I’ve had to work very hard on my mixing skills. When I first started cooking I was convinced that a hand mixer was the perfect solution for all mixing and in my enthusiasm I would beat all batters to death then wonder why my muffins looked and tasted like hockey pucks. I didn’t have Dorie or Ina hanging over my shoulder sharing tips on how to fold gently, but boy could I have used their help. I still shudder when I see “gently fold” in the recipe instructions, knowing that my technique isn’t quite up to par. My batters always deflate a bit because I either become impatient while wondering when the flour and the wet ingredients will finally unite or I have to hurry up so I can stop the boys before they destroy the house or do something silly like ride a flattened cardboard box down the stairs.
But I persevere, hoping someday I’ll get the technique down perfectly and all my future muffins, cakes, and quick breads will be wonderfully light and have that perfect peak on top. I hoped that I would make a pretty peak on this cake so the glaze would drizzle elegantly down the sides, but no. It rose but didn’t achieve the perfect peak I was striving for. It was flat on top. Again. Maybe someday, but not this time.
Michael’s parents came to visit back in February, and I wanted to make a dessert that was simple and used lemons because that’s one of his mother’s favorite flavors. I had heard from Lydia at The Perfect Pantry that Ina’s lemon yogurt cake was wonderful and I decided to give it a try. Except for my botched folding, this truly is one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made. The recipe is one of those mix by hand cakes that’s you can quickly whip up. There are three components (cake, soaking syrup, glaze), but all are quick and easy to make (except for the folding). The lemon flavor was perfect and light and the crispy glaze was delicious. Both his parents raved about the flavor and the moist texture. We served it plain, but you could whip some cream to dollop on top of you prefer a little decoration on your dessert.
P.S. I went back to look at the recipe online, and noticed the cake in the photo wasn’t peaked on top either. That makes me feel a little better.
LEMON YOGURT CAKE
Makes 1 loaf cake.
8-1/2 by 4-1/4 by 2-1/2-inch loaf pan
large mixing bowl
2 medium mixing bowls
1 quart sauce pan
1-1/2 cups (180 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (240 ml) plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup (175 g) granulated sugar
4 large eggs (or 3 extra large)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola oil
1/3 cup (58 g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (130 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted to remove the lumps
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F/175° C. Grease the loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
2. CAKE: In the medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In the large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, 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. The oil may not combine at first, but continue until the oil is fully mixed in.
4. 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.
5. SYRUP: While the cake bakes, cook the lemon juice and sugar in a small pan over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
6. 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, then allow the cake to finish cooling.
7. GLAZE: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sifted confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. Pour over the cooled cake and allow the glaze to set up.
8. Slice and serve.
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Source: adapted from Ina Garten