Lemon Yogurt Cake

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Lemon is probably one of my all time favorite flavors. Lemon drops, lemon Italian ice, chicken piccata, lemon meringue pie, lemon squares, you name it I probably like it. This cake came about because I wanted something lemoney but simple since we were living in Brighton and our kitchen was so small the dishwasher and refrigerator couldn’t be open at the same time. I could touch both walls by simply stretching out my arms.

Tiny kitchen cooking escapades circa 2009
Tiny kitchen cooking escapades circa 2009

The linoleum floor was cracking and the holes in the walls where the stove and sink attached to the walls were the perfect way for rodents to enter our apartment. The cabinets were warped because of the heat from the oven and we had to keep our dishes and glassware in the living room to prevent them from sliding out of the cupboard and breaking. This proved interesting once we got our kitty, Olive, because she was insistent that she belonged in among our glasses, dishes, and booze. She was convinced that if she sat still enough we wouldn’t notice her.

Nice try, booger.
Nice try, booger.

Did I mention that the board of trustees refused our formal request for a vicious hunting beast even though the 4 visits from exterminators we’d hired had been unsuccessful? We clearly didn’t listen. Illegal cat ownership! We brought her home in February and didn’t see another rodent until the day we moved out that July. She’s a brute and we love her.

That tiny slum hole was a weird, weird place, but it’s where Rob proposed, where we spent our year of engagement, and first year of marriage. I made a lot of fly by the seat of your pants meals there. Which brings me to this lemon cake: it’s probably the easiest and least fussy baked good I know how to make and doesn’t even require a mixer. I always add extra lemon zest and use less sugar in the glaze because I like a really strong lemon flavor. We eat this with a simple blueberry sauce but it’s just as good on its own.

Lemon Yogurt Cake
from Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook, 2006

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.

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Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

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With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.

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Pour the batter into the prepared pan

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bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

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

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When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

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For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

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Blueberry Sauce:
1C frozen blueberries
½ C sugar
splash of vanilla
splash of Chambord or Kirsch
1TBS lemon juice
1/2C water (or juice, I used cherry juice this time)
1TBS cornstarch

whisk together corn starch and water (or juice), pour over all other ingredients in a saucepan and cook until liquid is clear, shiny, and thick. Serve warm or at room temp.

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Note: for some reason I always glaze this cake upside-down. I’m not sure why, but you can really glaze whatever side you want. I’m just weird.

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