Coconut Yogurt Cake with Roasted Peaches

Jody and I both like simple, unfussy desserts with a couple of dominant flavors that compliment each other.  A couple of weeks ago I laid my hands on a quart of wild blueberries, so my original vision for this included a wild blueberry compote.  Jody, however, wanted to go with peaches.  Since I couldn’t get my hands on any wild blueberries for the day we were scheduled to blog, she won.  This is a simple Coconut Yogurt Cake with Roasted Peaches.  The crumb is moist, with a rich coconut flavor.  And the peach accompaniment, oh man.

Part of my reticence about peaches had to do with the fact that I’d all but given up on American peaches.  A New Yorker article about peach hybridization some years ago highlighted my objections when it observed that children are now likely to grow up thinking a peach is an extremely sweet crunchy fruit.  Extremely sweet.  Crunchy.  No thank you.

And yet… I haven’t done enough research to know whether the hybrids themselves have changed, or farmers are just finding that not everyone is in love with crunchiness, or super sweet white peaches, even if they do ripen to softness.  But the peaches I’ve been eating from farmers’ markets lately seem to have taken a step back toward their old-timey selves.  You still have to ripen them at home–I alternate between a brown paper bag and a shoebox, which is more protective–but they do get soft, not quivering-custard soft, but soft enough.  Also, you’ll notice the peaches in these photographs are distinctly yellow/orange.  I can attest that yellow peaches have a peachier flavor than white, along with an element of tartness in the finish.  If anyone reading this notices a similarity to my white-versus-yellow comments about corn last week, yeah, I noticed too.  It’s weird.  But I stand by both sets of observations.

In any event, this is a lovely cake–kudos to my wife–with a peachy accompaniment.  One recipe note: we didn’t specify the fat content of the yogurt or the coconut milk.  You can do what you want but, for the record, we used full-fat Greek yogurt and regular coconut milk, not the lite version.  But you knew that.  Enjoy.  Ken

Coconut Yogurt Cake


Roasted Peaches

Makes 1 10-inch single layer cake

Cake Ingredients:

  • ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
  • 4 ounces unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ cup semolina flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange flower water
  • 3 jumbo eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Peach Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe peaches
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rub ½ tablespoon butter inside a 10-inch spring-form pan to form an even coat.  Dust with 2 tablespoons flour, knocking the pan around to distribute the flour evenly on the bottom and sides.
  3. Spread 3 ounces of the coconut on a sheet pan.  Bake until toasted, about 5 minutes.  Cool.  Chop in a food processor.  You should have a heaping ½ cup.
  4. Toss the remaining all-purpose flour, the semolina flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
  5. Put the sugar and lemon zest into the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Mix to release the oils from the lemon zest for a minute or so.  Stop the mixer and add the yogurt, coconut milk, oil and orange flower water.  Mix until well combined.  Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat well after each addition.
  6. Stop the mixer.  Add the combined dry ingredients (flour-baking powder-salt) and mix briefly until just combined.
  7. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks.  Use a rubber spatula to fold into the batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the remaining coconut and 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar over the cake.
  8. Bake 40 minutes.  If you have a convection oven, turn on the fan for the last 5 minutes or so if the coconut on the top isn’t toasty.
  9. While the cake is baking, cut the peaches into 8ths.  Toss with ¼ cup sugar. Arrange in a single layer in a baking pan and dot with the remaining butter.
  10. Bake on the lowest rack in the over for 30 minutes.  When the cake is out of the oven, turn the oven to broil and broil the peaches until slightly charred.  Cool.  When cool enough to handle, remove the skins, if you like.  Serve with the accumulated juices in the pan.

Jody Notes:  

I’ve wanted to try a yogurt cake ever since I read in Dori Greenspan’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours, that every French mother has a recipe for this cake.  I don’t think of French mothers as cake bakers so I was intrigued.  I did a little digging and found versions of  yogurt cake in all kinds of cookbooks–some with nuts, some without.  It’s  a family cake, meaning one you’d make for your family rather than for a fancy dinner party.   It’s “rustica,” a little wet, a little crumbly, it’s not too sweet and after a few days when it gets a little dry, it can be morphed into a breakfast treat with a little toasting.   

It’s the kind of cake you make when you have a colander full of peaches that you need to use right away.  You cook all those peaches and then they need a vehicle.  Make the cake. 

28 thoughts

  1. Hi from Menerbes Jody and ken!
    I am going to try this out for my goodbye dinner tonight (back to Paris tomorrow), since we had a great peach season. Unfortunately already planned your cod in butterfly for main dish which makes a coconut milky dinner, mais tant pis! As a sort of French mom I can attest to having made yoghurt cake with kids on rainy days dozens of times- little kids can make it because the yogurt ‘pot’ is the unit of measure (un pot huile, deux pots sucre etc).
    I highly suspect though that your recipe will be a good deal tastier.. Not to mention the peaches!
    Thanks honies

    • That’s a great story–I had forgotten that you can still buy French yogurt in little ceramic pots. What I wouldn’t give to be part of your goodbye dinner! It must be gorgeous in Provence right now. Last night I had a glass of wine with a woman who cycled to the top of Mount Ventoux a couple of years ago. Next summer… Bisous. Ken

      • Next summer? It’s a deal!
        FYI , the cake was perfect.
        Had to do some replacements for the cod papillotes: sweet red onions instead of scapes and no mint so used basil to make a kind of Provençal curried fish but it was fantastic! I even threw in some salicornes that the fish man gave me- salt replacement and pretty green…
        I loved the coconut touch to the cake and my (all french) guests couldn’t believe it was ‘just’ a yogurt cake.
        I wish you’d been there too…

      • Stop, just stop, I’m dying imagining it, the people, the wine, the food, the view from the terrace of the Luberon valley… Ken

        P.S. Nice touch with the salpicornes. I was just reading about them a couple of days ago in an NYT article about fleur de sel harvesters.

    • Merci, Lydie! The plate holding the cake (and another in green) is all that remains from a wonderful set of café au lait cups and saucers from the marché aux puces at St-Ouen de Clignancourt in Paris. Despite the fact that they’re both chipped on the edges we can’t bear to let them go. Thanks for stopping by. Ken

  2. Hello Jody and Ken,

    Where can one find orange flower water? I too am in the Boston area (shout out: Somerville!). This ingredient is both new and intriguing to me.

    Thanks for your always witty and beautifully crafted blog posts.
    -Megan S.

    • Hi, Megan. We buy a lot of stuff like rose and orange flower water from the Middle Eastern shops in Watertown. Whole Foods in Brighton carries it, so there’s a good chance the others closer to you have it as well. Good luck. Let us know how the cake turns out. Ken

  3. Oh, I can’t wait to make this–you guys make sure I use those jars of orange and rose water I can’t help buying. Also, any cake that can be eaten at breakfast works for me.
    On the peaches: I was recently lamenting the state of most peaches as well–we grew up with the worst ones. The ones I’ve been finding at the farmer’s markets have been excellent, which makes sense–they’re not picked green and hard. And you’re right about the yellow vs. white–the white are always advertised as lower acid (and per Food in Jars, need additional lemon juice for safe canning).
    Megan S–I bet you can find orange flower water at Whole Foods, or at a specialty mideastern store.

    • No, I don’t think so. Is separating eggs complicated? That’s about as wild technically as it gets. There are a few places where you need to pay attention–about the same level of attention that you use to avoid burning a piece of toast (when you’re toasting the coconut flakes, when you’re running the peaches under a broiler). The hardest (and simplest) hurdle for beginners making a cake is to resist overbeating the batter. When Jody says to mix just until things are combined, then that’s what she means. A lot of people want to beat a cake batter until it’s perfectly smooth, everything perfectly mixed. That’s a mistake. Just beat it until everything more or less comes together–no dry spots, no big smears of egg–and then that’s enough. Look at the photo of our batter, there are probably a few lumps in there. If you do overbeat it, that’s okay too. The cake won’t have as delicate a texture, but it will taste fine, and I can guarantee that if there’s some leftover for toast the next day no one–absolutely no one–will complain. Everybody should overbeat a few cakes in their lives, just so they learn to trust themselves to beat it just enough. Go ahead, give it a shot–you can do it! (And roasted peaches make up for a lot of other errors.) ;-) Ken

  4. Pingback: Prune Plum Walnut Butter CakeThree Clever Sisters

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