Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lemon Yogurt Cake

It's mid-March already. How did that happen? 

I've had a serious case of the lazies. This post has been sitting incomplete in my drafts folder for over a month. Aside from updating my blog I should be working on my thesis but instead I've been giving myself 'a break' spending my mornings in a pensive trance as I moved around my kitchen measuring, whisking, stirring, dreaming. 

I'd taken to sitting out for hours on my sunny patio observing my daughter and her friends do this:

and this 

and more of this 

When I began writing this post weeks and weeks ago the sunny lemon cheeriness of this cake was meant to be a reflection of the cool but sunny days we had been enjoying here. But we've been experiencing a lot of sand storms this past week. An unfortunate but recurring theme for this time of the year forcing us to remain stuck indoors. 

This gives me time to catch up on some projects, and reading. So there are books and my google reader, and copious amounts of Rooibos Tea. Which brings me to this lemon cake. I have been searching for the perfect lemon pound cake recipe for ages. And while that doesn't sound like a huge challenge, it was. Cakes I have tried in the past have been usually too dense with just a bare hint of lemoness. What I really wanted out of a lemon cake was an intense, zingy lemon flavor. I wanted it to be moist and light, zesty without being either too tart or cloyingly sweet. 

So let me just say I love this version by Ina Garten - demonstrated by the fact that I've made it three times in the previous month. Twice as a loaf cake, once as cupcakes. The second and third time I made it, I threw in extra lemon zest into the batter and once it was baked I lightly pricked the top of the loaf/cupcakes with a fork while it was still warm so that the lemon syrup would soak a little better instead of pooling at the bottom of the cake. The recipe calls for extra-large eggs, which I didn't have, so I just threw in an extra egg because mine were on the smaller side. 

This cake is all about the lemons - moist and tangy with just the right amount of sweetness. It actually tastes better the day after it is baked. If it lasts that long. 

Lemon Yogurt Cake
barely adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home, Pages 168-9 (recipe can also be found here)
Yield: I loaf or 12 cupcakes

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
grated zest of 3-4 lemons
1 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze: 
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8.5" x 2.5" loaf pan or line muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. If  using loaf pan, line bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan. 

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup of sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold in the oil. 

Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes. Or 30 mins if making cupcakes. 

Meanwhile cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining sugar over low heat in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside. 

When the cake is done, let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove and place on a cooling rack placed over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar syrup over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool completely. 

Combine the confectioners sugar and lemon juice and pour glaze over cooled cake. 


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