Lemons! I love lemons! They smell so fresh and clean, and the flavor brightens up any dish, sweet or savory. I use lemons nearly every day in my cooking. I love to roast broccoli in the oven and then sprinkle with lemon zest and Parmesan cheese just before serving. I’ll add a squeeze of lemon over any seafood or pasta dish. Lemon or lime juice makes a great alternative to vinegar for salad dressings, too.
One of my favorite recipes using lemons is my Lemon Yogurt Cake. This is great for a breakfast, a summer picnic, a party, or as a goûter (French afternoon snack). You probably have most of these ingredients in your pantry!
gâteau au yaourt français au glaçage au citron
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- zest of 2 lemons
- ¾ cup whole milk plain yogurt
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- juice of 1 lemon, strained
- ¼ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds only (or ½ tsp vanilla extract)
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
- Prepare a loaf pan by cutting parchment paper to fit bottom of pan. Spread butter on bottom of pan and place parchment on top so paper will stick. Butter and flour top of parchment paper and sides of pan. Tap excess flour into sink.
- In medium bowl sift flour and baking powder together and stir in salt, and set aside. In large bowl mix sugar and lemon zest together. Add yogurt, vanilla and eggs. Whisk until well blended.
- Gradually add dry ingredients until blended, do not over mix. Fold in vegetable oil and pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top, tap pan on counter to remove any air bubbles in cake batter.
- Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean. If cake surface is becoming too brown before finished baking, cover the pan with tin foil and cook until done as specified above.
- When cake is removed from oven, insert a toothpick ¾” deep into the cake, making holes all over the cake surface. Spoon lemon syrup (below) all over the top of the cake.
- Let cake cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then run knife around the inside edge of the cake pan and invert cake onto a baking rack. Turn cake right side up and leave cake on rack until completely cool. If not serving cake right away, place cake in sealable plastic bag and refrigerate. This can be made a day ahead.
- Mix lemon juice, sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon zest. Syrup should be slightly thickened.
- Pour heavy cream into a cold stainless steel bowl and whip with hand or stand mixer on high. When whipped cream begins to thicken add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, the vanilla bean seeds and mix until stiff peaks form. The same recipe can be used in a whipped cream dispenser.
Many more great recipes using lemons (like my delicious Lemon Tarragon Deviled Eggs or a refreshing Lemon Spritzer) can be found in my new cookbook Ooh la la! French Inspirations for Entertaining and Travel, available at a reduced COVID-19 price. Ooh la la!
TIPS FOR USING LEMONS
Tip #1: Zero Waste: Zest lemons (or any citrus) before squeezing, which uses all parts of the fruit. If you don’t need the zest right away, store in a plastic baggie in the freezer and you’ll always have zest for when you need it.
Tip #2: Flavor Enhancer: If using citrus zest in baking, rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers. This allows the oils in the zest to absorb into the sugar and it really increases the flavor you taste.