I’ve had my eyes on this cake for a long while. With antioxidant-rich blueberries, vitamin-packed citrus, whole grains, and protein-, calcium-, and probiotic-rich yogurt …. oh who am I kidding, the health benefits of this loaf are but a footnote. I mean, the original recipe is one of Ina Garten’s most famous! In Ina’s language that means, (1) “how bad can that be?” and (2)” how good can it be for your waistline?” All kidding aside, this is a great snack cake to keep around when a craving for sweets occurs (which tends to happen regularly in this household) – and partly because it can be made less sinful.
Rice Kernel decided to skip his afternoon nap today so I enlisted his help. Not a bad idea, per se. Let’s just say my “helper” made a few unexpected modifications. First, he claimed the alluring container of full-fat yogurt I had purchased for the recipe (we only buy Fage 0%). Thinking I better pick my battles wisely with a sleep-deprived toddler, I let him have it. I could see his expression: “Why have you kept this rich goodness from me?!” While he was eating, I grated and squeezed some lemons. In the time I threw away the peels, Rice Kernel decided the yogurt in the mixing bowl (for the cake) needed some citrus. And, in a heartbeat, the cake inherited fat-free yogurt and an extra 1/3 of a cup of liquid. New motto: baking is an art, not science.
Despite the personalizations, our loaf was delectable. The inclusion of yogurt and oil create a moist, custard-like center with a tender crust. (Ours was probably a bit more cheesecake-like, rather than poundcake-like, with the substitution of nonfat yogurt and additional liquid.) The blueberries and lemon add a tart and refreshing lightness. If you prefer the taste of oranges, grapefruits, or limes to lemons, don’t hesitate to make the substitution. This cake can handle your imagination – poppy seeds, raspberries, nuts, chocolate. Utterly simple and versatile, this cake will certainly become a part of your repertoire.
(Will report on my Orange Creamsicle (Popsicle) and Orange Olive Oil Pignolia Nut versions of this cake soon!)
Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Cake, from Smitten Kitchen, with minor adjustments
- 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat will make the tender cake a bit too tough)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt (we used non-fat; full-fat was used in the original recipe)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp of agave nectar (or 1 cup granulated sugar)
3 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil)
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
- Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
- When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, as does using a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool.