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As we enter the dog days of summer, the last thing we want to eat are heavy, cloying dishes. Now is the time for light, fresh and bright desserts that pair perfectly with the summertime heat. So, it’s no wonder we are obsessed with Ina Garten’s lemon yogurt cake recipe. It’s a sunny take on lemon pound cake, minus the pounds — literally and figuratively.
Instead of a pound of butter, Ina Garten’s recipe for lemon yogurt cake uses yogurt to soften this rich dish into a dessert that feels as airy as sunshine itself. The recipe calls for plain whole milk yogurt, but you can also substitute plain Greek yogurt, which has more protein and less sugar.
You will also need sugar, eggs, flour, salt, vanilla, baking powder and vegetable oil, though you can always replace the oil with plain unsweetened applesauce to make it a bit healthier. When using applesauce in place of oils, Food Network suggests swapping half the oil for applesauce so that the applesauce flavor does not overpower your baked goods. This is a great way to reduce calories while retaining moisture.
Of course, you’ll also need fresh lemon juice and freshly grated lemon zest. If you’re looking to reduce the sugar even more, you might be able to swap Meyer lemons for regular lemons in this recipe. Meyer lemons are naturally sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, so you may be able to cut back a tad on the white sugar that Garten uses for her lemon yogurt cake. You could also try using a sugar substitute like honey or coconut sugar for a healthier twist on this cake recipe.
The final step for this lemon yogurt cake is the glaze, which is made with confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice. Cookie and Kate offers a handy way to make your own powdered sugar with coconut sugar or turbinado sugar if you want to avoid using heavily refined store-bought confectioner’s sugar.
Find the full recipe here or in Ina Garten’s 2006 cookbook “Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You’ll Make Over and Over Again.”
Looking for a dish that’s a little more decadent? Try Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for lemon bars, which are utterly perfect when paired with a cup of coffee for a summery mid-afternoon snack.
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