I love anything lemon. It's tart, sweet and so refreshing...it just "oozes" summer to me. As both a baker and a cook, I'm also taken with lemon because of it's ability to be both sweet and savoury at the same time. Just a hint of lemon zest sauteing in a pan with onion and garlic or a splash of fresh lemon juice to perk up a sauce - these are aromas that make me happy.
Then there's the sweet side of lemons - and one of the most incredible lemon desserts I've ever had is this lemon yogurt cake from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. After watching her make this cake on TV, I had to try it for myself. It is the best lemon cake I've ever made - and it's really quite easy. This is a guaranteed showstopper for any Sunday Brunch event. It's light, moist and super-lemony.
Lemon Yogurt Cake
(adapted from Ina Garten's book: Barefoot Contessa at Home)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt (you can substitute this for lemon yogurt for an extra-lemony punch!)
1 cup sugar, divided
3 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
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 2/3 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and vegetable oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
While the cake is cooking, heat 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.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cooling rack with a baking sheet, parchment paper, or foil underneath (to catch the drips.) While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
When the cake has cooled, make the glaze: combine the confectioners sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake; it will dribble down the sides and that’s just fine.
Makes 1 loaf.