Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Super Lemony Yogurt Cake with Lemon Juice Glaze

This little lemon cake is a bit of a chameleon, making an equally grand entrance whether served with brunch or dressed up a bit for a light evening dessert.

While I admit I kind of forget about this recipe through the fall and winter, the slightest hint of spring brings it quickly to mind. Not only is it super simple to make, but its light and refreshing lemony tang makes it a perfect warm weather option when you're looking to make a cake.

I especially like its understated elegance...just a simple loaf-pan cake drizzled with glaze. It's unassuming and unpretentious, yet that very simplicity is what makes it such an appealing little cake. And while lemon cakes aren't exactly unique, the addition of yogurt and a generous dose of fresh lemon juice and zest make this particular cake especially moist, super lemony, and deliciously delightful. Partnered with some fresh cut berries, its a great spring or summer dessert.

Super Lemony Yogurt Cake with Lemon Juice Glaze
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa
makes 1 loaf

for cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole-milk yogurt (I've used Nancy's Organic Whole Milk Yogurt as well as organic plain Greek yogurt..and both work very well)
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 4 lemons)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil

for glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" loaf pan. Line bottom of greased pan with a piece of greased parchment paper. Flour pan.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in one bowl. Set aside.

3. In a larger bowl, whisk together yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon extract. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Whisk until well blended. Then, with a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter until it is well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

4. While cake is baking, cook the remaining 1/3 cup lemon juice and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture appears clear. Set aside.

5. When cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and place it on a baking rack positioned over a sheet pan. While still warm, gently poke holes in the top of the cake surface (with a long toothpick or thin skewer). Pour lemon-sugar mixture over cake, allowing it to soak in. Cool completely.

6. Combine confectioners' sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice to make glaze. Pour over cooled cake. Serve with fresh berries, if desired.

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