Lemon Yogurt Cake

One of my favorite breakfast treats is a nice, thick slice of a lemon loaf cake. Now I said “treat” because my loyalty to this breakfast item was first won by Starbuck’s iced lemon pound cake. A bright, refreshing citrus, lemon makes for the perfect wake-me-up flavor (and not just for mornings as personally a zingy slice of lemon pound cake more often fueled me through late-night study sessions freshman year at Penn).


But because Starbuck’s iced lemon pound cake is far from healthy, I actually haven’t had a slice in a while. However on our recent trip to Spain, my family and I ended up eating one breakfast from Starbucks and I just had to get a slice of their Spanish equivalent. It was admirably much less dense (lemon cake vs. pound cake) and was finished with a thin coating of lemon syrup rather than the usual thick layer of icing. Inspired by these differences, I was excited to come up with my own version. This lemon yogurt cake was the first thing I baked back from vacation and now it’s one of my staple recipes. The star ingredient (arguably aside from the lemon) is Greek yogurt, which gives the cake incredible moistness and reduces the amount of oil needed to just 1/4 cup.

Although I love this lemon yogurt cake as is, you can easily layer in additional flavors. I’ve paired the lemon with lavender. Another time, I folded in pomegranate seeds. However, because the texture of this yogurt cake is light and spongy, I didn’t fancy the crunch (I’d advise staying away from harder mix-ins). Perhaps blueberries are a better choice or one could even swap the lemon for orange or lime… Get creative!

Or savor simplicity.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Makes 8 servings2015-12-28 09.13.40

2015-12-28 09.39.53Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt*
  • 1/3 cup milk*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the lemon syrup

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (~ 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar

*nonfat or whole milk work just as well


For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare (grease and flour) a standard 4 ½” x 8 ½” loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt).
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest; rub the two together until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the rest of the wet ingredients (yogurt, milk, eggs, oil, vanilla extract) and mix until well combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined (batter will look lumpy).
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes or until cake passes the toothpick test. Let the cake cool slightly; meanwhile, prepare the lemon syrup.

For the lemon syrup

  1. Over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice.
  2. Evenly spoon the lemon syrup over the cake (you can use a knife to help loosen and guide the syrup down the sides of the loaf if the syrup starts pooling around the edges). Let the cake absorb all the syrup and cool slightly more before enjoying warm.

2015-12-28 08.37.032015-12-28 11.00.092015-12-28 10.48.232015-12-28 10.42.52


4 thoughts on “Lemon Yogurt Cake

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