Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Friday, February 11, 2011

Vanilla Bean Yogurt Cake

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, I thought something sweet to finish off the week would be nice.  I know chocolate is the usual selection for this day, but this is a beautiful, easy to make treat ( no mixer required!) to please any sweetheart.  Vanilla is derived from the vanilla orchid which is native to Mexico.  It is the second most expensive spice after saffron, due to the extensive labor involved in growing the seed pods.  It's flavor has been described as "pure, spicy and delicate."  Pure vanilla extract can be pricey, but it is well worth the cost.  The vanilla bean can be difficult to find, but as of recent, has become more readily available for purchase locally.  This recipe works with either a vanilla bean and pure vanilla extract or just pure vanilla extract.  Not all pure vanilla extracts are created equal in price or flavor, so you might have to search a bit until you find one that suits you.  With all it's exotic complexities, you can see how vanilla actually is the perfect flavor to serve up to your sweetheart for Valentine's Day!

This recipe is originally from Ina Garten's book, Barefoot Contessa at Home.  I have never been disappointed by one of Ina's recipes that involved baking.  I have always admired her simplistic approach to food.  I changed the recipe by making the main flavor of the cake vanilla, instead of lemon, and lowered the fat content by using nonfat Greek yogurt.  To highlight the vanilla flavor, I used one vanilla bean, and pure vanilla extract.  The cake turned out very moist with a strong vanilla flavor.  When I was done with the vanilla bean pod I used, I popped it into a jar of granulated sugar so I could have vanilla sugar for another day.

Vanilla  Bean Yogurt Cake:  Moist loaf cake bursting with vanilla flavor!

Vanilla  Bean Yogurt Cake:  Moist loaf cake bursting with vanilla flavor!

Vanilla Bean Yogurt Cake adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Servings - 16 ( yields one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf )   Serving size - 1/16th of cake   PP per serving - 5 points+
Calories - 187.1,   Total Fat - 7.9g,   Carb. - 26g,   Protein - 3.7g,   Fiber - 0.3g

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt ( can use plain or vanilla flavored, nut info calculated for plain)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract ( if not using bean, increase to 2 tsp., 1 tsp for batter and 1 tsp. for sauce)
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 TBS. skim milk

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan generously with cooking spray.  

2.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk until well mixed.  In another large bowl,  whisk together the yogurt,  3/4 cup granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Split the vanilla bean down the middle long ways, and scrap out the seeds with the back side of a knife. Set pod aside for later. Add the seeds to the wet mixture and combine well. 

3.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  With a rubber spatula, fold in the oil until well incorporated.  Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 - 70 minutes  ( my oven took the full 70 )   or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  

4.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, cook the remaining  1/4 cup of granulated sugar with a 1/4 cup of water and the vanilla bean pod.  Cook until sugar dissolves and the sauce is clear.  Turn off heat and set aside with the vanilla bean still in it.  ( if you are not using a vanilla bean, add the sugar and water to the pan and cook until clear, then off the heat, add 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract )

5.  When the cake is done, allow it to cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes.  Carefully place on rack which has been placed over a sheet pan.  Take the reserved sauce mixture and remove the vanilla bean pod.  ( toss into a glass jar of granulated sugar for vanilla sugar to be used at another time!)  Strain the mixture.  Spoon the mixture onto the warm cake, a little at a time, letting it absorb into the cake, before adding more.  Allow cake to cool completely.  

6.  For Glaze:  Mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1 - 2 TBS. skim milk to make a glaze.  Drizzle glaze over cake.  Allow the glaze to harden a bit, and then cut into 8 pieces and then those eight can be cut in half to make 16 servings.  

My husband really liked this cake...he isn't much of a chocolate fan.  I suppose there are people out there that choose something other than chocolate when they have a chance...but that's not me....I LOVE chocolate anything and will choose chocolate over any other flavor most of the time! 

How about you? Chocolate or Vanilla?   

Just a reminder that my giveaway for Anywhere Scrambles ends tonight at 11pm EST...I will be announcing a winner tomorrow, so if you are interested and haven't gotten your comment in, you still have time!

I am also submitting this recipe for this week's BSI : vanilla!  Rules for BSI can be found here.


  1. I am SO not a chocolate girl (most of the time)- so this sounds like the PERFECT valentine's day recipe to me! I agree- Pure vanilla extract is totally worth the money. It makes a huge flavor difference. And Ina's recipes are some of my favorite. She may not be the most exciting chef to watch- but she sure knows how to cook! Enjoy your weekend

  2. This looks amazing, thanks so much for posting this!

  3. Question: are the slices in your picture actually 1/16th of the loaf?

  4. @ the slices are 8ths. Then I cut those eight pieces in half for a serving ( 1/16th)...that is what is on the plate. You could slice the loaf in 16 pieces as well, if you wish. The pieces would be much thinner.

  5. Hi Renee, WOW, that looks amazing, and only 5 PP+ each slice? I'd take vanilla cake over chocolate ANY day. Thanks for posting this. Have a great day!!
    PS: Thanks for the sweet comment on my blog today! xo

  6. Thanks for linking up to BSI: Vanilla. This cake sounds so good!

    Around My Family Table

  7. I only very like chocolate at certain times of the month... other than that I am definitely not a chocolate girl at all. This cake sounds out of this world and looks equally amazing. Definitely going to be giving this one a try!



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