I have a soft spot for lemon flavor in cakes and cookies. I love the freshness and the tang you get from the citrus. So when I saw Ina Garten make this cake on Barefoot Contessa it was a must try. I made this cake for the first time a few years ago, but recently found myself thinking of it again when I saw that it was included in my recent purchase Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You’ll Make Over and Over Again by Ina Garten. In the preamble to this recipe, Ina says that this cake was inspired by a yogurt cake recipe she came across from Dorie Greenspan. There is a yogurt cake recipe in Baking which I would assume is at least similar to the one that Ina is referring to.

This cake is wonderful because it is tasty and satisfies my sweet tooth yet it is not full of butter. It has all the flavor with half the guilt (did I really just write that?).

Follow up:

The original recipe can be found here, on the Food Network website. If you own Barefoot Contessa at Home, this recipe is on page 168. I adapted it slightly to fit my own preferences.

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Original recipe by Ina Garten, adapted by Sara at Imafoodblog.com

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup fat free plain yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan with no stick baking spray. I use canola spray with flour for baking. Flour the pan as well.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the yogurt, 1 cup of sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
  5. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  6. With a rubber spatula, fold the canola oil into the batter until it is all incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until the cake tester placed in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Meanwhile, combine the 1/3 cup of lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small sauce pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
  9. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from the pan and place onto a baking rack over a sheet pan. If the sides of your cake are too brown or not looking pretty (see mine below) then cut off the sides with a serrated knife. Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a long cake tester or toothpick. Then, while the cake is still warm, pour the lemon sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Once you have poured all the mixture over the cake remove the baking rack and roll the cake bottom and sides in the leftover mixture on the sheet pan.
  10. Allow the cake to cool completely.
  11. For the glaze, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Clearly this is loaded with sugar, so I would not say that it is healthy, but it is not the worst thing you could be eating. I have been looking at the nutritional information that Kim at Scrumptious Photography provides for some of the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes, and quite frankly it is scary. So I don’t feel too bad about eating a slice or two of this cake. (Though I do feel bad about eating five - I pretty much ate half the cake myself this time before I forced myself to give the rest away). The problem is that it is hard to resist when it is just sitting on the counter staring at me. It is so sweet and moist, and rolling the entire cake in that lemon/sugar mixture creates somewhat of a sugary crust on the outside.

I suppose you could further lighten this by using less sugar or a sugar substitute and maybe using some low fat buttermilk in place of the eggs. Using less sugar would require some trial and error to make sure that the tartness of the lemon is still properly balanced. I think I am up for trial and error experimentation with this cake.

Here are some process photos:

These sides are not looking so good, so I just cut them off. Problem solved.

Look how shiny and moist the cake looks after it gets a bath of sweetened lemon juice.

Yes, I may have went a little overboard with the glaze, but it is so good.