This easy to make Lemon Yogurt Cake is bursting with fresh lemon flavor! It’s extra moist thanks to Greek yogurt and is perfect to serve with brunch or as dessert.
This recipe and photos have been updated since the original post on 3/26/2015
I first saw the recipe for lemon yogurt cake in one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks. I loved the idea of using yogurt to give the cake extra moisture without all the fat that oil would. I took her recipe and made some healthier adjustments to it such as cutting back on the amount of sugar used and substituting some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat.
The cake itself isn’t overly sweet, but with the addition of the lemon juice simple syrup that soaks into the warm cake and the glaze drizzled on top it balances it out. You can serve this cake as a sweet addition to brunch or a wonderful spring dessert.
What Do I Need to Make the Cake?
- All purpose and whole wheat flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking powder
- Plain Greek yogurt, non-fat, 2% or whole will all work
- Olive oil
- Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Making this lemon cake is very easy and you don’t need any special equipment to make it. In one bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a second bowl, pour in the sugar and lemon zest. Use your hands to rub the zest into the sugar. This will release all of the lemon’s natural oils and bring out a nice lemon flavor.
The remaining ingredients are added in with the lemon sugar and whisked together. Pour the flour mixture in with the wet ingredients and stir everything together with a rubber spatula until combined. Line the bottom of either an 8 inch round cake pan or an 8×4 loaf pan with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray. Pour in the batter and bake it until a toothpick comes out clean.
While the cake is baking either microwave or heat on the stove lemon juice and sugar to make the lemon simple syrup. Once the cake comes out of the oven poke a holes in the top with a toothpick and brush the syrup all over the top off the warm cake. This will infuse even more sweet lemon flavor into the cake and keep it moist.
Once the cake has cooled drizzle on the lemon vanilla glaze which is simple lemon juice, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. As you can see from the photos, this is a denser cake, similar in texture to a pound cake.
What Can I Replace the Olive Oil With?
If you don’t have olive oil or would prefer to use something else, I recommend subbing it with vegetable/canola oil, melted coconut oil or melted butter. I don’t recommend eliminating the oil and using only yogurt. This will change the texture of the cake and make it spongy.
Do I Have to Use Both All Purpose and Whole Wheat Flour?
No. If you only have one or the other you can still make this cake. The texture will be lighter if you use only all purpose and denser if you use all whole wheat. There will be a nuttier taste to the cake as well if you are using only whole wheat.
As far as cake is concerned, this one is on the lighter side in terms of calories. It’s not overly sweet which is why I also suggest serving it as part of your brunch spread. It’s a nice alternative to some of the traditional quick breads or sweet rolls that you normally see.
More Lemon Desserts
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cup plain non fat Greek yogurt, 2% or whole may also be used
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 T lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8 inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper as well.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
- In a smaller bowl combine the sugar and lemon zest. Use your fingers to rub the sugar and zest together so that the oils are released from the zest. whisk in the yogurt, oil, eggs and vanilla
- Pour the flour mixture in with the wet ingredients and stir everything together until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 27-33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before removing it to a wire cooling rack.
- In a small microwave safe bowl combine the lemon juice and sugar for the lemon syrup. Microwave until the mixture boils, about 45-60 seconds. Using a toothpick, poke holes into the top of the still warm cake. Brush the lemon syrup on top of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.
- In a small bowl whisk together the glaze ingredients. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and serve.
If you bake this cake in an 8x4 loaf pan it will take between 50-60 minutes to bake.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 231Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 235mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 2gSugar: 23gProtein: 7g