Lemons scream Spring to me. Their vibrant yellow color calls for attention whenever I pass them at the market. I bet there are a few of you out there who would agree with me that when confronted with the choice of chocolate or lemon, lemon wins most of the time. Lemon tarts, lemon meringue pie, lemon poppy seed muffins, lemonade, or margaritas bursting with fresh citrus are my favorites.
I remember Martha Stewart saying that lemons were what she missed most while she was stuck in the slammer. I laughed with everyone else when she said it since it was classic Martha, but I know that eating good food directly impacts my own state of well-being, so I don't really hold it against her so much. I don't know that I would say lemons, per say, as I feel it has slightly frigid undertones, but homemade ravioli, aged serrano ham, even ice cream might make my list! Or hell, a glass of red wine!
So, it might not make my prison list, but sometimes I do yearn for a real shot of lemon. Something so tangy it makes my mouth pucker from the initial sourness and then smile as I savor the lingering sweetness. This lemon cake does the trick. This is a yogurt cake, similar to the yogurt cakes I've made in the past, but baked in a loaf pan this time around. This is somewhat like a pound cake, but lighter in texture and slightly moister because of the oil. It's wonderful for breakfast or dessert!
Lemon Yogurt Cake
(recipe adapted from Ina Garten)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 cup whole-milk plain yogurt (or low-fat)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 Tbsp lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
scant 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup powdered sugar
4-5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until well combined. Finally, whisk in the oil very lightly until it is incorporated. Do not overmix.
Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 55-65 minutes. While the cake is baking, bring the lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar to a simmer over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Remove the cake from the oven when it is done and let it cool about 10-15 minutes. Remove it carefully from the pan and place on a cooling rack or plate. Slowly pour the lemon syrup over the top of the cake so it can soak into the cake giving it a lot of flavor. Cool completely.
If you would like the add the glaze, mix together the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice until smooth and pour evenly over the cake. I left the glaze off this time but I would definitely use it if serving for dessert.