What is this?

It's a mystery!
This is not cornbread. This is cake, but it is not the cake for winter, or fall, or even chilly spring days. This is the cake you make when it is June, and it is 78 degrees in Seattle, and when you've spent the day hiking in sunlight so bright it makes you remember that you've forgotten what it's like to squint when you're out of doors and into real air. 

Big Four Mountain (though I think it looks more like Big Five Mountain)
It's the cake you make after being invited to a neighbor's short-notice cookout. You will make this cake using one bowl, some plain yogurt, a few lemons, and a spatula. You will then eat this cake, at home, probably without a fork, when the neighbor uninvites you because their baby and toddler are having a rough day. You will be totally ok with this, mostly because there is still cake. 

Please don't be judgy about this cake. I know, it looks like plain old cornbread: 
Exhibit A: Cornbread
But I promise, it's much, much different:
Exhibit B: Cake
Don't be fooled by its folksy appearance, its humble visage, its unassuming decorum. This cake means business, people! Here's why you will love this cake: 

  • It is fast and easy. As I said, it's a one-bowler. 
  • It is awesome with or without accoutrements. Sure, put jam or marmalade (what IS that?) on it if you want. Plop some whipped cream on it and top it with some raspberries. Layer blueberries as you pour the batter in! Or...eat it surreptitiously, out of the fridge with just your hands. 
  • It is moist, but not soggy.
  • It will become your go-to picnic/river baptism/graduation/baby shower/whatever-summer-occasion-you-have cake.

Now go get yourself some organic lemons, because you're going to be zesting them, and you don't want any of that waxy stuff in your cake. I recently ordered this zester because I used it at Svetlana's and fell in love. (Highly recommended, even without a handle. Wrap a dishcloth around it.) As I've noted before, I prefer self-rising White Lily flour. If you can find it, by all means, use it--just omit the baking powder in the recipe.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

1/2 c. plain yogurt (preferably whole-milk)
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp grated lemon zest (roughly the zest from two lemons)
1/2 c. canola oil (or other neutral-flavored oil)


Juice from 2 lemons (I microwave mine for 30 seconds. It helps the juicing!)
1/4 c. powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray with baking spray a 9-inch round cake pan. (Alternatively, line it with parchment, and butter the parchment.)

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs, stirring until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder (if not using self-rising flour), and zest, mixing just to combine. Add the oil and stir to incorporate. Pour into the pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake, or the cake will be dry and sad.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then turn it out of the pan directly onto the rack to cool completely.

When the cake is cool, mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and gently spoon it over the cake. The glaze will be thin and soak in like syrup.

This cake keeps well at room temperature or in the fridge for at least three days. It's never lasted longer than that when I'm around.


  1. I miss you and I miss this cake! When I read your blog, I imagine your voice narrating it in my mind. I'm glad I was able to introduce you to that zester, but really, wrap a kitchen towel around it. That zester does not PLAY.

  2. Ha, I knew EXACTLY what this was the moment I saw the picture. Yum!! Like Svetlana, you also narrate your blog in my mind. I miss you and this cake also!! Hugs!


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