Lemon yogurt cake invites spring into any occasion.
There's just something about a lemon. The look, the smell, the taste, the versatility: Brightening dull soups, bringing out the flavor in fish, spiking a sauce, soaring to the heavens on the wings of sugar and spice. You can use it to soothe a sore throat, keep apples from browning — and if you have one left over, you can use it to scrub clean a cutting board and then deodorize the garbage disposal.
Meanwhile, no one who hasn't tried hand-squeezed lemonade sweetened with real sugar syrup has really lived.
April and lemons go hand-in-hand in my book. This is mostly because I love baked goods with lemon and April is my birthday month. You do the math.
This cake is moist, tangy, sweet and you'll want to eat every crumbly crumb. It would be an easy contribution to a potluck, a treat for co-workers on a dreary morning, a perfect partner to a cup of afternoon tea. Or coffee. Or motor oil. It's really just about the cake. If it helps, you can call it "Lemon Yogurt Bread." I think that automatically whacks about 60 calories off of every slice.
If you want to make it extra pretty, take a zester to the outside of a lemon and make a handful of stringy lemon peel pieces, a couple of inches long. Dredge them in sugar and place them decoratively on top of the loaf right after you take it out of the oven.
Or simply eat the darned thing. (Just let it cool first.)
Lemon Yogurt Cake
This recipe was adapted from www.foodnetwork.com.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons), plus 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
To make the cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of an 8½-by-4¼-by-2½-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the sugar with the yogurt, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and place the rack over a lined baking sheet. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Let cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, make the glaze: In a second medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Once the cake is cool, pour the glaze over the top of the cake. Serve.
For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.
Jennie Geisler can be reached on Twitter: @ETNGeisler.