Here’s a recipe for a quick cake, easily adaptable, bright and citrusy (Winter is my very very very least favorite season, so I’m always on a search for recipes to brighten the dark and short days). This recipe is modified from Salma Hage’s Pistachio and Yogurt Cake in her cookbook The Lebanese Kitchen, which I use more than any other cookbook I own, hands down. This past year I discovered (I’m late to the game, I realize) plain yogurt as *the* secret ingredient for everything. Besides using it in dips and salad dressing, I’ve been putting it in pretty much every cake I make – it adds extra softness and tanginess. I found this yogurt at the farmer’s market a few months ago, and I haven’t bought anything else since (it’s very lightly sea salted, so if you use it you can skip the bit of salt you would usually add to a cake recipe).
This cake is soft, tender, and lemony, and can be eaten plain or topped with confectioner’s sugar or an icing (I like plain cakes, so I rarely make icing, but icing would definitely be appropriate!). I use a combination of cake flour and white whole wheat flour (a softer wheat flour than regular whole wheat flour), because I’ve grown unable to make ANYthing with all white flour lately, but you should use whatever kind you prefer for cakes. I also use a little less sugar than cakes often have – I like cake that I can eat for breakfast, which means not too sweet for me.
3 cups flour (any combination)
3/4 – 1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbls baking powder
1 cup plain yogurt (Greek or otherwise)
2/3 cup olive oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbls vanilla
Grated zest of 1 large lemon (or two smaller lemons)
Juice of 1 – 2 large lemons (you can make this as lemony as you like)
- Preheat oven to 350º and prepare a 9-inch round baking pan (I layer the bottom with parchment and then grease with butter).
- Combine dry ingredients and mix well.
- Add wet ingredients and lemon zest to dry and combine gently until just mixed.
- Bake for 45 minutes (test at 45 minutes – it may take up to 60 minutes)