Spring into the Season with Lemon Yogurt Cake

I don’t know where you sit today, but I hope your view is as nice as mine, where the air smells sweet with a freshly baked lemon cake in the oven, and the sun is high and bright.

Vertical image of thick slices of a yellow loaf cake on a white plate in front of lemons, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Charcoal grills send smoke through my open windows, birds are loudly chirping, and vibrant green grass surrounds blooming tulips and daffodils.

Today I realized that as much as I hate Chicago for the winters, I love the city for this: what else could make me so aware of the beauty of a Chicago spring?

And as spring turns to summer and summer to fall, I will keep enjoying the beauty of the seasons, the joy of watching change unfold around me.

Vertical top-down image of a whole baked light yellow dessert in a loaf shape on a rectangular white plate surrounded by lemon slices, plates, silverware, a white towel, a mug, and a knife.

It’s nice to be a part of that.

These almost-summer afternoons are the good stuff: what we’ve been waiting for after so many months of winter.

Things like a sunny weekend game at Wrigley Field, hours antiquing in northern Illinois, long walks on tree-lined streets of ivy-covered brick buildings.

Although this year’s summer events will be altered slightly due to quarantine, I have no complaints.

Vertical image of a whole baked light yellow loaf with browned edges on a white plate next to lemon wedges and a jar of sugar.

Even without baseball games to attend or restaurant porches to enjoy, I love being home with no plans but to be outside, watching the tomato plants grow, and ready for the sky to turn orange and crimson before I pillow my head.

And I love having the time to bake whatever and whenever I please, like the lemon yogurt cake I made as the sun was setting.

Vertical image of a loaf cake with three slices on a rectangular white plate in front of a mug and lemon wedges.

After I ate an easy dish of vanilla yogurt drizzled with honey, the remaining yogurt went into this fragrant lemon dessert that baked up spongy and soft, with a sturdy crust perfect for holding in your hand.

This treat is really the definition of simple, both in its creation and in the final results: just mix up the ingredients, pour them into a pan, bake, drizzle some glaze on top, and cut a thick slice of to enjoy for a late-night snack or a weekday breakfast.

Lighter and more sponge-like than a pound cake, this dessert is as soft as springtime clouds and no less satisfying.

Vertical image of a fork on a white plate with a piece of a yellow baked dessert in front of the same dessert in a loaf shape with slices cut out of it.

Plus, you can complete the prep in mere minutes, so you’ll have hours to spend elsewhere – preferably outside in 70-degree weather, sitting next to a beautiful garden with the sun shining on your face.

That’s where you’ll find me.

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Horizontal image of a loaf baked good sliced into thick pieces on a white plate on a bright blue surface.

Lemon Yogurt Cake


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

This lemon yogurt cake is slightly tangy, moist, and delicious. The simple recipe can be made in a flash and has tons of lemony flavor.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (from 1-2 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 lemons)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a metal 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In another large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
  3. Take the dry ingredients you set aside and slowly and gradually whisk them into the wet ingredients.
  4. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester stuck in the center of the loaf comes out clean. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
  6. Remove cake from the pan and place it on a wire rack set over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon glaze over the top and allow it to soak in. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: lemon, Greek yogurt, cake

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Zest  and Juice Lemons, And Measure Remaining Ingredients

Horizontal top-down image of assorted wet and dry ingredients in glass bowls on a gray surface.

Zest one to two lemons until you have two teaspoons total of grated zest.

Juice enough lemons until you have 1/3 cup total of juice.

Measure out all remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.

Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick baking spray.

Step 2 – Make Batter

Horizontal image of a light yellow batter in a metal loaf pan on a gray surface.

Add all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt to a large bowl, and stir to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large separate bowl), add yogurt, 1 cup granulated sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Beat to combine (you can also use a whisk). Slowly and gradually beat in the dry ingredients until combined.

Use a rubber spatula to fold in the vegetable oil until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Step 3 – Bake

Horizontal image of a whole baked loaf with a light yellow color.

Bake for 50 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

When done, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Step 4 – Make Glaze

Horizontal image of a pot with a light yellow swirled liquid mixture on a gray surface.

Add lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves. The mixture should be clear.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 5 – Finish and Cool

Horizontal image of a whole loaf cake on a white plate next to lemon slices on a blue surface.

Remove cake from the pan and place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.

Pour the lemon glaze evenly over the top, allowing it to soak in. Let it sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

What’s the Difference Between a Yogurt Cake and Pound Cake?

At a glance, this cake looks a bit like pound cake. But even though it is similar in color and shape, there is a big difference. That would be that yogurt cake includes… yogurt!

Horizontal image of a loaf baked good sliced into thick pieces on a white plate on a bright blue surface.

The yogurt gives the cake a lovely moist texture, and in addition to the bright lemons, it adds a bit of extra tanginess. The other major difference is that this cake is made with oil instead of butter. This makes it a bit lighter – and downright addictive.

Want more loaf cake inspiration? Check out these recipes from Foodal next:

Will you eat this delicious cake for breakfast, a snack, or dessert? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe as well!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on May 18, 2009. Last updated: June 10, 2020 at 14:22 pm. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Nikki Cervone.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

Spring into the Season with Lemon Yogurt Cake

16 thoughts on “Spring into the Season with Lemon Yogurt Cake”

  1. This looks so decadent! I love lemon yogurt cake because it’s so easy to throw together – a no-fail recipe if you need a good dessert in a pinch!

    Reply
  2. We made a citrus yogurt cake with lemon, lime and orange flavors, and it was fantastic. Yogurt and citrus go very well together.

    Reply
  3. That’s what I love about Boston too- the winters are bad, but it’s all worth it when it becomes Spring and everyone goes outside to enjoy the weather. Boston loses its cold reputation at the beginning of Spring.

    I’ve never had lemon yogurt cake, but it looks amazing.

    Reply
  4. Oh my gosh I love lemon cake. It’s so good. The winters here suck but now that it’s getting nice, it’s all a memory.

    Reply
  5. everytime i see this cake (because i keep clicking on your post with the intention of leaving a comment but then getting distracted), i think of crisp spring afternoons out on a patio or deck with a slice and a cup of tea. and i bet this cake has just the right level of tartness to evoke a smile. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Ah. That cake just oozes spring.
    What is it about lemon that seems so appropriate at this time of the year? Is it just the cleansing properties of citrus?

    You’re right on with regard to spring in the MidWest. I often think the gentleness of spring is a truly just reward for the brutality of winter.

    Reply
  7. That looks just delicious! On the topic of beauty, I am always reminded of God making all things new- isn’t spring a beautiful picture of that?

    Reply
  8. Maris – Exactly. Super easy and delicious!

    DD & Sara – Yogurt and citrus are a winning combo!

    Thank you, Dawn! Your photos are INCREDIBLE so I’m honored.

    Susan – I can think of a lot of other things I love about Boston, too! (OK, I have city envy, just a little bit.)

    Jessica – Yep, a far and distant one. Love it.

    Lan – I can vouch for the fact that this is excellent with a hot cup of tea. Most things are!

    Lo – I have a theory on that. Something about how fresh and clean citrus seems mirrors the newness and freshness of new life and new buds and new green. Makes me happy just thinking about it.

    Sue – Yes! Love the way you put that and yes!

    Reply
  9. Naailah, Greek yogurt is different than plain yogurt; it’s been strained and has a slightly different consistency and taste. You could use plain yogurt, sure. I’d like to hear how your results turn out if you do!

    Reply
  10. Okay, so I had some Meyer lemons and was looking for a recipe to make…and i stumbled upon this! And i love your blog anyways!

    and my husband and i love it! …it’s kind of sneaky addictive: at first i was like wow, “tart and interesting” with the meyer lemon…and then i couldn’t stop eating it!

    It reminds me (with regular lemon) of the cake my grandmother has always made. Totally tastes like my childhood to me 🙂

    Reply
  11. Hi, is it possible to use any other form of sugar, like coconut sugar, raw cane sugar or even honey for this recipe. I’m trying to make it more healthy.

    Reply
    • Feel free to substitute the granulated sugar that this recipe calls for with another less processed sweetener of your choosing, but keep in mind that darker sweeteners (like brown sugar, which contains molasses), will result in a darker/more browned finished product, and a slight adjustment should be made to reduce the total amount of liquid added to the recipe if you choose to substitute granulated sugar with a liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup.

      Coconut sugar and raw cane sugar can be used as 1:1 substitutes in baking. A cup of granulated can be substituted with 3/4 cup of honey – but keep in mind that using honey to make the lemon glaze will result in a different texture, since it won’t harden like glaze made with granulated sugar.

      You can read more about different types of sugar and the nutritional makeup of different types of sweeteners here.

      Reply

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