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Low-Fat Lemon Yogurt Cake

April 29, 2009

I’m all about decadence when it comes to my desserts (take a look through the chocolate recipes if you don’t believe me), but sometimes I just want something light and flavorful. With the days quickly becoming warmer (hello, 90°!), I started craving something lemony and bright, like the sunshine outside. I debated trying a new lemon bar recipe, but ultimately decided to revisit an old favorite: Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake.

(See? I don’t hate Ina!)

The first time I made this recipe, I fell in love with it’s intense lemon flavor. I’d rank lemon in the top 5 of my favorite flavors and this cake really delivers. A lot of recipes you find have just a hint of lemon, but this cake gets it’s lemon flavor in three infusions: in the batter itself, in the lemon syrup it’s soaked in, and finally in the lemon glaze on top. Despite all the lemon flavor, it’s neither too tart nor too sweet. It also bakes up super moist, and did I mention that it’s delicious?

Since I’ve made this recipe as written a few times before, this time I decided to change things up a bit. Shocking, I know! I was aiming to get the same great lemon flavor and moist cake, but to cut out a little bit of the fat. My version uses low-fat yogurt and only one egg yolk. I also omitted the lemon syrup, as I feel the cake has enough lemon flavor without it. I’m happy to report my lower fat version is just as satisfying but with only half the guilt. Which means I can eat twice as much. That’s how it works, right?

Later this week I’ll share another recipe that pairs really well with this cake. Don’t worry if you accidentally eat all the cake before then (I wouldn’t blame you) – the recipe is also equally delicious on it’s own!

Low-Fat Lemon Yogurt Cake

Low-Fat Lemon Yogurt Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake
Makes one 8 by 4 inch loaf cake

The texture of this cake is somewhat unusual. It’s dense like a pound cake, but also super moist. In my opinion the texture doesn’t take away from the cake at all, but it helps to know what to expect. Also, the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. I ended up using a little less, about 1/3 cup, and the cake came out just fine. Feel free to adjust the amount of oil to your liking.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I used Stonyfield this time, but Greek yogurt also works)
1 cup sugar
1 whole large egg, 3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Limoncello (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

Measure the flour (scoop and level), baking powder, and salt into a small bowl and whisk until combined. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and slowly whisk together. Fold the vegetable oil into the batter until it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of Limoncello). If the glaze is still too thick, continue adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or Limoncello) until it’s runny enough to pour.

Carefully place on the cake a baking rack over a sheet pan or a sheet of parchment paper. While the cake is still warm (but not hot!), pour the glaze over, allowing it to drip down the sides.

  1. April 29, 2009 10:45 am

    I love the fact that you’ve converted an Ina recipe to be low-fat! I never thought it’s possible :P I’m definitely going to give this a try!

  2. April 29, 2009 3:36 pm

    Sounds delish! My husband loves lemon cake – I think I’ll make this soon. Looking forward to the companion recipe.

  3. April 29, 2009 3:55 pm

    I have this baking in the oven as we speak. My husband and son love “plain” style desserts (i.e. without icing or frivolous sprinkles and bits) so this sounded perfect. I had all the ingredients luckily!

    Although note to self: Get a zesting tool.

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      April 29, 2009 3:57 pm

      Yay! I hope they love it! :) And I can’t recommend a microplane zester enough. It makes zesting a million times easier, and I use it for all sorts of other things (garlic, cheese, chocolate) too.

      • April 29, 2009 5:57 pm

        It came out great! I love that it’s a little more dense. Will be good with coffee in the morning!

  4. April 29, 2009 7:56 pm

    Wow, what a perfect looking loaf. Your photography is really beautiful!

  5. May 10, 2009 6:11 pm

    i made this cake this morning and it got rave reviews especially with a cup of strong coffee and strawberries on the side. a new favorite for sure!

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      May 10, 2009 7:01 pm

      I’m so glad it was a hit, Meegan!

  6. March 28, 2014 10:37 am

    Does plain yogurt or vanilla yogurt work better?

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      March 28, 2014 10:45 am

      I prefer plain (or even lemon flavored!), but if you like vanilla and lemon together, I’m sure vanilla would work fine too :)

  7. Briget permalink
    April 5, 2014 12:17 pm

    I used 1/2 cup of applesauce in place of the oil, and it turned out good! Thanks for the recipe :)

  8. Cheryl permalink
    May 20, 2014 7:26 pm

    Baked this today, and it is amaaazzzziiing!

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