Every cook – whether they consider themselves a baker or not – should have one go-to cake recipe up their sleeve, don’t you think? The classic lemon olive oil yogurt cake is mine. Versions of this humble cake have appeared in all corners of the interwebs; the roots seem to be the Gateau au Citron, a simple, French-style yogurt cake infused with lemon, in which the ingredients are, most charmingly and efficiently, measured in a 125-mL glass yogurt pot.
I first saw a version of this cake years ago on Orangette, then came across Ina Garten’s classic, glazed version, followed by Smitten Kitchen’s blueberry-studded iteration. And because 1) if given the choice I will always go for a citrus dessert, and 2) I’m an incredibly lazy baker, so I appreciate a delicious, easy cake that doesn’t require separating eggs, doing anything over a double boiler, or dirtying every bowl in my kitchen, it’s become my very own only-cake-I-ever-make.
My version calls for extra-virgin olive oil in place of the vegetable oil that most recipes call for, both because I love the subtle flavor that olive oil imparts and also because I try to avoid vegetable oil (it’s high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can drive inflammation in the body). I also use a combination of GF flour and finely ground almond meal in place of AP flour, since we mostly try to avoid gluten (though we’re not religious about it).
I often use unrefined coconut sugar in place of refined white sugar, which gives the cake a rich, golden hue and in combination with the olive oil creates an incredibly moist and flavorful crumb. (Though when I’m making this match-swirled version, I use lighter-hued organic cane sugar — otherwise the darker color of the coconut sugar obscures the lovely pale green of the matcha.) I’ve made various versions with plain yogurt, thicker Greek yogurt, and coconut milk yogurt (for a dairy-free cake), all with top-notch results.
For this year’s Easter dessert I decided on a lemon poppyseed version drizzled with a lemon-poppy seed glaze (my friend Shahla likened the look of the poppy seeds to tiny pearls, which I love!). I used fragrant Meyer lemons (a variety that originated as a cross between a lemon and a mandarin) since the natural foods store near me happened to have some real beauties in stock the day I was shopping; but if Meyers aren’t available you can use regular lemons (preferably organic since we’re using the zest here) for the cake and glaze. Happy baking! Read More