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January 17 2012 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Breakfast,Dessert,Recipe » 27 comments

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Every January, I end up on a citrus tear.  I’m not much for resolutions, and January is far from my favorite month (I grew up in Minnesota, and I live in Chicago, after all), but I do love the sunny spectrum of citrus that shows up at the grocery store this month.  Weekly, I haul home a heaving bag of ruby red grapefruits.  Each morning, I top segments of their tart flesh with yogurt and granola.  A pair of clementines accompany me to work every day; a crate of the little orange guys rarely outlasts the stretch between our weekly grocery trips.  Less frequently, but still dependably, I get hankerings for key lime pies, the urge to make a citrus-hued curd, and an inexplicable desire to squeeze blood oranges until my hands are stained with their brilliantly-colored juice.

Lemon Cake

And always, there is a lemon cake.

Lemon Cake

It might be a towering, layered affair, enrobed in billowy frosting.  Or a lemon-swirled cheesecake.  Or a pound cake speckled with poppy seeds.  Or a blueberry-studded bundt.  Or an olive-oil enhanced round, sliced into fat wedges and dolloped with creme fraiche.  This January, though, I was in the mood for something simpler.  Just a lemon cake, plain and simple.  Nothing folded in, no frosting, no unique pairings.

Lemon Cake

So I opted for an Ina Garten recipe, one that I made a long time ago and one that my mother-in-law makes frequently.  I checked my site for the recipe and was surprised to see that it wasn’t in the archives.  I figured I’d better fix that, and that’s what I aim to do today.  Because this is a recipe that should be in your repertoire, for when you need the perfectly fragrant, light and moist lemon cake—which is  to say, every January.

Lemon Cake

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Ina Garten

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper.  Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. 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. 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. Cool.

27 comments so far. »
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  1. Jacqui says on January 17 2012 at 7:53 pm:

    Lemon cake is a regular around these parts come January, too. Welcome back, Kristin!

  2. Notyet100 says on January 17 2012 at 8:27 pm:

    Mmmm I am drooling :)

  3. Rosa says on January 18 2012 at 12:54 am:

    A beautiful cake that seems to be very popular! Will have to try it soon.



  4. zoe says on January 18 2012 at 6:23 am:

    your cake looks absolutely gorgeous. i can almost taste it, i haven’t had a lemon cake for so so long. thanks for posting, i’ll be whipping this up this weekend for a friend!

  5. Leanne says on January 18 2012 at 2:35 pm:

    This sounds, and looks, incredible! I love simple citrus cakes, and I trust basically everything Ina. Question: Do you think it would be alright to use Greek yogurt, or would that make the cake too dense?

  6. Kelsey says on January 18 2012 at 2:59 pm:

    Love this, so bright and joyful.

  7. Anna @ the shady pine says on January 18 2012 at 8:41 pm:

    I too recently made a lemon cake after getting some lemons from a neighbour.

    Your cake looks delicious and I’m sure was much enjoyed.

  8. Keetha says on January 18 2012 at 8:43 pm:

    Saw this post right after it went up and had to try it. I can smell the sweet lemon scent wafting from the oven right now. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Rebecca says on January 19 2012 at 8:59 am:

    I loved reading this post!! I grew up in MN and now live in Chicago too :) Stay warm in this chilly weather we have today!

  10. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says on January 20 2012 at 9:39 am:

    I suddenly have a craving for a lemon poppyseed muffin (my favorite). :)

  11. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on January 20 2012 at 2:51 pm:

    Thanks, all!

    Jacqui: It was fun to see you pop in my Reader this week, too. Happy 2012.

    Leanne: Yes, I think Greek yogurt would work well. If you try it, please let us know how it goes.

    Keetha: I’m so glad you tried it!

    Rebecca: Hope you’re staying warm (and out of the snow, today), too.

  12. Tammy says on January 21 2012 at 9:36 am:

    That looks so yummy. You can almost smell it :)

  13. A Plum By Any Other Name says on January 22 2012 at 6:41 pm:

    Just stumbled across you blog, and I’m so glad I did! It’s beautifully written with inviting food. I’m a sucker for lemon come January too. I’m not in Chicago, but Boston is no picnic this time of year either. ;)

  14. Alison says on January 23 2012 at 8:11 am:

    Just made this with Greek yogurt – turned out awesomely! A great January citrusy treat!

  15. Liza in Ann Arbor says on January 23 2012 at 11:43 am:

    I made a very similar cake this weekend for my mom’s birthday (she requested it after all after I made it for mine). It was Molly Wizenberg’s French Yogurt Cake from her book. I had to use half whole wheat flour, because that’s all I had, and it turned out delicious. I agree with you, January is the perfect time for citris recipes…it’s probably our bodies trying to stay healthy.

  16. Neil | Butterfield says on January 24 2012 at 5:39 am:

    Sounds really yumbo as Anthony Robbins would say :-). I would add heaps of vanilla ice cream or cream with this. I bet the lemon is really tangy?

  17. Ida says on January 25 2012 at 2:32 pm:

    Hi, what size is your pan? 8 inch?

  18. Laura says on January 28 2012 at 7:16 pm:

    I’m going to make this soon! Just wondering though, would it be okay to use non-fat plain yogurt? What kind of plain did you use? Thanks!

  19. Susan says on January 29 2012 at 3:36 pm:

    This is great! I made it with Greek yogurt. I think it would be better without the sauce, though it is delish with the sauce on, too! If you want it to be sweeter, perhaps a lemon-powdered sugar glaze? (lemon juice, powdered sugar, & h2o)?

  20. Cookie and Kate says on February 05 2012 at 1:34 pm:

    Gorgeous cake! I’ve had a hankering for lemon bread or cake lately and this may be just what I’ve been looking for. Thank you!

  21. Eleana says on February 08 2012 at 9:28 am:

    Made this last night with Greek yogurt and Meyer lemons … so good and moist!

  22. [...] used Ina Garten’s recipe from this site: The Kitchen Site recipes (Beautiful blog with some stunning photography!) [...]

  23. Deeps @ Naughty Curry says on February 09 2012 at 9:48 am:

    oh wow! that looks gorgeous

  24. Manzaroo says on February 12 2012 at 10:26 am:

    Fabulous! I needed another recipe for the 400 lemons growing in my backyard. One can only drink so much lemonade!

  25. Boomer says on June 03 2012 at 8:09 am:

    I have made this recipe a bunch of times lately, thanks to needing to work through a delivery of gorgeous eggs, lemons, and olive oil from my father-in-law in Kefalonia, Greece. A couple of observations: olive oil works perfectly fine, I cut the baking powder to 1 1/2tsp to lower that ‘nya’ feeling in your mouth and upped zest to 3tsp. Even an extra squeeze of lemon is nice. Today I tried a tip from Heidi and sprinkled about 2-3tbs of raw sugar on top – adds a bit of a crunch. Fragrant, rich, gorgeous, yummy!

  26. Boomer says on June 03 2012 at 8:16 am:

    ps- now I see the comments re the yogurt. Greek yogurt all the way! The regular is preferably to going low fat. By the way olive oil cakes are very popular here in Greece, and a much better snack for kids than butter oriented baking or a processed snack

  27. Asia says on April 11 2014 at 1:50 pm:

    I made this cake a couple of days ago, just using olive oil (had no other oil at home) and it turned out perfect! Thank you!!!
    Would it work as an orange cake if I just used the same amounts of orange zest and juice? Or would it need other adjustments too?

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