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REAL Lemon Yogurt Cake

Lemon Cake

I have a love-hate relationship with lemon-flavoured things.  I can’t stand, for example, yellow gummy bears or yellow skittles, or anything with fake lemon flavour.  I also don’t particularly like the colour yellow.  It reminds me of ugly grocery store flyers and dollar stores, and I especially hate it on cars…or pants.

But I love, love, love naturally lemon flavoured things.  Lemonade, for instance, made with fresh lemons.  Cranberry-lemon muffins.  And Orangette’s lemon yogurt cake.  The smooth creamy pale yellow batter was so beautiful, it stole my heart when I was mixing it, and the contrast between the tart lemon glaze and the sweet lemon cake completed the seduction.  I might just have to paint my walls that perfect pale yellow colour.

Ok, quick confession.  The first time I made this cake, I overbaked it, even though Orangette’s recipe specifically said not to!  But although the cake turned out drier than it was supposed to be, it was the perfect accompaniment to a steaming cup of tea.  The second time I made it I actually baked it properly.  My oven must have been running hot, because it took just under 25 minutes instead of the recommended 30-35.  I don’t really like super syrupy cakes, so instead of making a thin glaze that soaked into the cake, I made a thicker glaze that stayed mostly at the top of the cake.  The cake had two contrasting layers of lemon flavour – one sweet and cakey, and the other tart and syrupy.  You can adjust how thick you want your glaze by simply changing the amount of lemon juice and using a bit more or less powdered sugar.

This lemon cake would be the perfect canvas on which to throw a handful of cranberries, or maybe some poppy seeds.  It’s great plain though, as the true flavour of the lemon shines through.

Orangette’s recipe gives the measurements in “jars”, which refers to the glass yoghurt jars typically used in France to measure the ingredients for this kind of gateau au citron, but I’ve changed the measurements to cups just to make it easier.

slice of cake

Lemon Yogurt Cake
From Orangette

½ cup plain yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp grated lemon zest
½ cup oil


Juice from 2 lemons
¼ cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine yogurt, sugar and eggs in a bowl until blended and smooth.  Add flour, baking powder (I always mix my bp in the measuring cup with the flour first), and zest, and mix till just combined.  Add the oil, and keep mixing it until it turns into a smooth, creamy batter.

Bake in a buttered 9-inch round pan for 25-35 minutes (depending on your oven).  When the top is just getting a little bit golden, test with a toothpick.  If it comes out clean, you’re good to go.  Cool 15-20 minutes – the cake should pull away from the edges of the pan and should turn out nicely onto a plate.  Mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar to make the glaze, and when the cake is cool, spoon it over the cake and let it absorb.

Lemony yumminess is yours!

My modifications:

I only had sweetened plain yogurt – they don’t have unsweetened local yogurt here in China – so I reduced the sugar to ¾ cup.  Also, for the glaze, I used the juice from only 1 lemon, which made the glaze thicker.  The local yogurt here was super runny – more like drinkable yogurt, so I added an extra ¼ cup to make sure there was sufficient fat to make the cake stay moist.

Also, we don’t have an oven here in China, so all my cakes are baked in a tiny little Chinese toaster oven.  That’s why they often turn out striped, or rise unevenly (hard to avoid when the top of the cake is an inch from the heating element!).  But no matter what they look like (and I think the crack on the top of this cake is adorable), as long as they taste good, no complaints!

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