crumb of lemon yogurt cake

I don’t know where you sit today, but I hope your view is as nice as mine, where the air smells sweet and the sun is high. Charcoal grills send smoke through my windows, green grass surrounds blooming tulips and daffodils, restaurants open their walls so we can dine al fresco as the sun sets.

I’ve realized as much as I hate Chicago winter, I love it for this: what else could make me so aware of the beauty of Chicago spring? And as spring turns to summer and summer to fall, I will keep enjoying the beauty of seasons, the joy of watching change unfold around you, irrespective of you and what you want. It’s nice to be a part of that.

I guess what I’m saying is that these almost-summer afternoons are the good stuff, what we’ve been waiting for, so maybe you’ll understand why it’s hard to resist all they tempt me towards? Things like a sunny weekend game at Wrigley Field, hours antiquing in northern Illinois, long walks on tree-lined streets of ivy-colored brick buildings.

lemon yogurt cake, close

Last week, I met a three-year-old girl with an easy smile, while we walked down creaky steps in a vintage building near a Metra station, surrounded by trees with blossoms as big as my hands. Saturday, after lunching at one my favorite places with an old blogging friend, I strolled along Clark to Broadway, passing bakeries and restaurants and adorable little shops. And this week, after work each day, I’ll come home with no plans but to be outside, watching the tomato plants grow and ready for the sky to turn orange and crimson before I pillow my head.

Also last week, because I wasn’t done with Oikos Greek yogurt yet, I made this cake.

lemon yogurt cake, above

After I ate the easy dish of vanilla yogurt drizzled with honey, the remainder went into a fragrant lemon cake that baked spongy and soft, with a sturdy crust made for holding in your hand. This cake is really the definition of simple, both in its creation and in its results: just mix ingredients, pour into pan, bake, drizzle glaze on top, and cut a thick slice of it to eat for a late-night snack or a weekday breakfast. At least that’s what I’ve been doing, beginning with Tuesday and then for breakfast at my work desk every day after.

Lighter and more sponge-like than a pound cake, this dessert is as soft as spring clouds and no less satisfying. Plus, its total prep time is mere minutes, meaning you’ll have hours to spend elsewhere, preferably outside, in 60-degree weather, when you throw on a light jacket and sit by something beautiful. Or at least, that’s where you’ll find me.

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Adapted from Salt & Chocolate, as seen on Tastespotting

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup Greek yogurt (I used vanilla)
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (1 to 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a metal loaf pan with nonstick baking spray.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. Take the dry ingredients you set aside and slowly whisk them into the wet ingredients.

With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter until it’s combined. 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.

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

Setting the cake on a wire rack,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. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then remove from the pan to finish cooking on a rack.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. maris

    This looks so decadent! I love lemon yogurt cake because it’s so easy to throw together – a no-fail recipe if you need a good dessert in a pinch!

  2. The Duo Dishes

    We made a citrus yogurt cake with lemon, lime and orange flavors, and it was fantastic. Yogurt and citrus go very well together.

  3. Sara

    I love lemon yogurt cake, it is one of my favorites. Yours looks great.

  4. dawn

    I love, no adore, that shot of the crust. Mmmm

  5. Susan

    That’s what I love about Boston too- the winters are bad, but it’s all worth it when it becomes Spring and everyone goes outside to enjoy the weather. Boston loses its cold reputation at the beginning of Spring.

    I’ve never had lemon yogurt cake, but it looks amazing.

  6. Jessica

    Oh my gosh I love lemon cake. It’s so good. The winters here suck but now that it’s getting nice, it’s all a memory.

  7. Lan

    everytime i see this cake (because i keep clicking on your post with the intention of leaving a comment but then getting distracted), i think of crisp spring afternoons out on a patio or deck with a slice and a cup of tea. and i bet this cake has just the right level of tartness to evoke a smile. :)

  8. lo

    Ah. That cake just oozes spring.
    What is it about lemon that seems so appropriate at this time of the year? Is it just the cleansing properties of citrus?

    You’re right on with regard to spring in the MidWest. I often think the gentleness of spring is a truly just reward for the brutality of winter.

  9. sue

    That looks just delicious! On the topic of beauty, I am always reminded of God making all things new- isn’t spring a beautiful picture of that?

  10. Shannalee

    Maris – Exactly. Super easy and delicious!

    DD & Sara – Yogurt and citrus are a winning combo!

    Thank you, Dawn! Your photos are INCREDIBLE so I’m honored.

    Susan – I can think of a lot of other things I love about Boston, too! (OK, I have city envy, just a little bit.)

    Jessica – Yep, a far and distant one. Love it.

    Lan – I can vouch for the fact that this is excellent with a hot cup of tea. Most things are!

    Lo – I have a theory on that. Something about how fresh and clean citrus seems mirrors the newness and freshness of new life and new buds and new green. Makes me happy just thinking about it.

    Sue – Yes! Love the way you put that and yes!

  11. Naailah

    What is greek yogurt? can i use plain yogurt?

  12. Shannalee

    Naailah, Greek yogurt is different than plain yogurt; it’s been strained and has a slightly different consistency and taste. You could use plain yogurt, sure. I’d like to hear how your results turn out if you do!

  13. Elizabeth @ Dapper Paper

    Okay, so I had some Meyer lemons and was looking for a recipe to make…and i stumbled upon this! And i love your blog anyways!

    and my husband and i love it! …it’s kind of sneaky addictive: at first i was like wow, “tart and interesting” with the meyer lemon…and then i couldn’t stop eating it!

    It reminds me (with regular lemon) of the cake my grandmother has always made. Totally tastes like my childhood to me :)

  14. Shannalee

    Yay Elizabeth! That makes me so happy! And ps – your blog is gorgeous!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>