Monday, February 2, 2009
THE ONLY LEMON CAKE RECIPE YOU'LL EVER NEED
I love all things lemon. This love of lemons did not begin in childhood; rather, it sneaked up on me as I got older. But it's only recently that I've begun to hoard lemons so that I'm able to add zest to everything from drinks to entrees to desserts. As a child I thought lemon meringue pie was revolting. That assessment was based on looks alone; I never tasted it until I reached my 40's. Now it's my hands down favorite.
Over the past few months I've begun to appreciate the subtle nuances of foods enhanced with lemon zest. In a wet rub it adds flavor and succulence. In a dessert, it plays counterpoint to the sugar. I'm amazed and awed by the lemon's ability to heighten flavor without taking over the taste.
Half paying attention to to the Barefoot Contessa's Sunday program on Food Network, I heard the words "lemon yogurt cake with blueberry sauce" and my ears immediately perked up. Ina poked fun of herself as she noted that instead of beginning with a pound of butter as she has been accused of doing on many occasions, this reworking of Dorie Greenspan's recipe used plain yogurt in place of fat. That is not to say that Ina eschewed the use of sugar and eggs and vegetable oil, but small steps.
I knew that I had to make this cake even if all I got to eat was one piece. I decided to use one of my new favorite foods: Greek yogurt. If you haven't tried this, I highly recommend it. It has the consistency of sour cream and is so much better than regular yogurt. I usually eat a low fat version, but Ina's recipe called for whole milk, so I deferred to her in this.
The cake is so easy to make. t's enhanced with a lemon syrup. Ina also served hers with a blueberry sauce. At first, I thought I'd skip the blueberry sauce, but then I decided to go for broke. I'm so glad I made it. This simple sauce would be incredible over vanilla ice cream, too. It provided just the right amount of contrast for the cake.
I know this recipe will be a favorite. I can't wait for an occasion to make it for friends and family.
Recipe - 10 servings
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest (1 large or 2 small lemons)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2 X 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup of the sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slow whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil completely into the batter. It's important to make sure all the oil is incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes.
For the syrup:
Cook the 1/3 cup of lemon juice and the remaining 1/3 cup of 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. Unmold it and carefully place it on a baking rack set over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, brush it all over with the lemon syrup. Allow the cake to cool as the syrup soaks through it.
1 1/2 pints fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tbs freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the sauce into a bowl and press the solids through a sieve. Stir the thickened sauce.
Serve slices of the lemon cake topped with blueberry sauce. Refrigerate leftover sauce.