Genius Recipes

The Dorie Greenspan Cake We All Should Know

Plus, a sneak peek from our so-close-we-can-taste-it new cookbook ‘Simply Genius.’

July  6, 2022

If you asked me to choose one Dorie Greenspan recipe—from her fourteen cookbooks, and three decades of welcoming bakers to the fold—to recommend to any beginner or busy cook, the lemony cloud of her French Yogurt Cake would already be baking in my brain.

The one. Photo by MJ Kroeger. Prop Stylist: Molly FitzSimons. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.

Because yes, we all need a simple, trustworthy cake that requires only bare-bones ingredients and gear, but especially one like this, with a signature step so joyful Dorie has named it The Smoosh.

The gist of The Smoosh, which she learned from pastry chef Pierre Hermé, is this: Pinch lemon zest—or other citrus, fresh herbs, or the belly of a vanilla bean—into sugar; watch (and smell) it all become exponentially more lemony than the zest alone. "Smoosh any time you can," Dorie says.


And, by the way, I did have to choose one Dorie recipe—but I also got greedy. When I asked Dorie if I could include her iconic cake in our forthcoming Simply Genius cookbook, she generously handed it over, and three of her favorite riffs on it, too.

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Top Comment:
“replace "blueberries" with "wild blueberries". (You can usually find low-bush aka wild blueberries from Maine in the frozen fruits section outside of their brief season in early August). Wild blueberries have a much more complex flavor than their high-bush cousins. ”
— Karl

One of them was a summery spin streaked with blueberries and thyme, but still simple enough that the college students in her latest Zoom class had baked it in their dorm room toaster ovens.

While the rest of Simply Genius, the third child in our Genius Recipes cookbook series, will be here in September, in the meantime I wanted to hustle this one to you, while there are blueberries to pick and picnics and road trips to outfit, though you can also bake it forever with frozen blueberries—or any other fruit you want.

(For anyone who pre-orders the book now, there’s also an instant bonus sneak peek of 14 new recipes and riffs to start cooking before the whole caboodle gets here—here’s more on that.)

And now, here’s Dorie’s latest riff on her any day, any season, any way you want it cake, as it will appear in Simply Genius. Smoosh away.

Got a Genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Poonkie
  • Andrea Mygrant
    Andrea Mygrant
  • porchapples
  • Oriana E Gonzales
    Oriana E Gonzales
  • Linda
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Poonkie December 25, 2023
How does it taste with olive oil?
Andrea M. December 1, 2022
hello - what are storage recommendations and how long will the cake last for (assuming we don't eat it up immediately!)
porchapples August 10, 2022
Forgot to add the blueberries -- cake still delicious!!!
Oriana E. August 10, 2022
Can I use brown sugar instead of white?
Karl W. August 10, 2022
Baking is playing with chemistry.Brown sugar contains molasses, which is hygroscopic - it holds on to moisture so that the resulting texture is denser. The taste will of course change. Molasses is more acidic, so its presence interacts differently baking soda/powder, which means leavening amounts may need to be change. The amount of flour may also need adjusting as well as other liquids.
Linda July 18, 2022
Made it with peaches last week…..delicious?
KMBurns July 11, 2022
The cake is delicious and forgiving. (I needed forgiveness when I forgot the oil!)
My guest liked it anyway.
Lorin K. July 10, 2022
Thank you for posting this! I just made this cake yesterday for a friend's birthday. My friend, no slouch at baking herself (she made me a perfect dacquoise on my last birthday) asked for this, one of the easiest recipes in my repertoire. I made it round, filled it with lemon curd, and frosted it with creme fraiche whipped cream. Everyone rapturously ate multiple slices. I can't wait to try the blueberry/thyme version!
Karl July 6, 2022
replace "blueberries" with "wild blueberries". (You can usually find low-bush aka wild blueberries from Maine in the frozen fruits section outside of their brief season in early August). Wild blueberries have a much more complex flavor than their high-bush cousins.
Kristen M. July 7, 2022
Sounds excellent!
Jul July 6, 2022
Lemon zest is not in the ingredients listed. Can you share how much is needed, please? Thank you
Kristen M. July 7, 2022
It's the Microplaned zest of the whole lemon listed in the ingredients (and then you can save the naked lemon for salad dressings).
Milanka S. July 6, 2022
Does Dori know if a full fat coconut yogurt would work or an almond yogurt or an oatmilk yogurt in this recipe in place of the normal yogurt? The reason I ask is because sometime the cake just doesn't come out right when you use non traditional yogurt in place of normal yogurt.
We cant do sourcream either.
Kristen M. July 7, 2022
Yes, I think all of these would work fine—it's a very flexible recipe.
Terry July 6, 2022
Will nonfat Greek yogurt work?
Kristen M. July 7, 2022
Yes, definitely!
Jude July 7, 2022
That is what I used (Nonfat Greek yogurt) as that is what I had on hand and it turned out excellent! I also used my other non dairy yogurt I had on hand, Vegan creamy organic cashew yogurt, to use in another cake since I made a few of these and that worked as well. In the third cake I used vegan sour cream and surprisingly that came out just fine too. The cashew yogurt gave it just a very minimal nutty flavor - but it was NOT overpowering in any way. Since I just finished the third cake, I wanted to add that I put in a little vanilla and that added a nice flavor but NOT overpowering.