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.
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.
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.
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
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.