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Lemon Yoghurt Cake and a Confession

August 21, 2010 · 30 comments

in Baking,Sweets

lemon yoghurt cake photo

Confession: I used to have no idea how to cook. When I first moved out when I was 17, I used to subsist mainly on toast and I thought that putting every vegetable I had in the fridge in pasta sauce was a good idea. I could just about manage to make misoshiru.

lemon yoghurt cake picture

I lived in town in a huge and dirty warehouse that I’m surprised wasn’t condemned and if you leaned out the window of the living room, you could always amuse yourself with the latest drama; one memorable time a woman was so drunk that when she tried to drive out of her (parallel) park, she merely went back and forth, bashing loudly into the car in front, then behind, over and over again.

The enormous pile of dishes in the barely functioning kitchen was no incentive to improve my skills either, but sometimes, a girl’s gotta have cake. At 3 am. While I didn’t know the basics of cooking, I could read and follow instructions so I tried this lemon and yoghurt cake recipe I got from Leon of chocolate picnic fame’s) mum.

yoghurt cake image

Since then I think I‘ve probably made it more than 100 times. I still make it today. It’s my go-to cake.

When did you learn to cook?

Lemon and Yoghurt Cake

This is such a forgiving cake. I’ve used limes instead of lemons, fruit yoghurt instead of plain, overbaked it and underbaked it and beat it for not long enough and each time, it’s still been a delight and garnered lots of compliments. The syrup is what gives the lemony flavour, you pour it over the still hot cake.

For the cake

2 eggs

The zest of 2 lemons

225g grams (1 cup) caster sugar

250 grams yoghurt

125 grams (1 cup) flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 150 celsius (300 fahrenheit) and grease a loaf tin.

Beat the eggs, lemon zest and sugar together until light.

Sift in the flour and baking powder, then fold in the yoghurt.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out not completely clean but not completely sodden.

For the syrup

The juice of the 2 lemons

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) water

150 grams (3/4 cup) caster sugar

Boil together until reduced to about 1/3 of the original volume and pour over the hot cake.

Print this recipe

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SMITH BITES August 21, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Interesting question and one I’ve thought about more than once. I don’t really remember cooking w/my mother but more about having the responsibility of cooking some part of our dinner. Followed a recipe from a cookbook or on the back of a package, etc. Back in the day, girls were required to take a HomeEc component in Jr/Sr High school and basic cooking was a very small portion of the overall course. I guess in all honesty, I’ve always ‘cooked’ but only the last 5-6 years have I really discovered the true ‘joy’ in cooking – putting menus together, blending tastes, textures, colors – it’s a real creative process for me and one that I love. But I’m also quite drawn to the stories behind those recipes – just like this one about your cake – which looks lovely – one can never go wrong with a lemon cake!

Anna August 21, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Perfecto! It is Bopha’s Birthday today and I was just trawling through cookbooks looking for a cake to whip up when your post popped up. I am currently functioning on diminished capacity and this old favourite, which I think I have eaten at least 50 times, looks just right!

Sasa August 22, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Diiminished capacity? Is that code for hungover?

Alessandra August 22, 2010 at 9:37 am

One of the cakes I am doing for the book is a yogurt cake, so far I have made it 8 times (golly, and usually I taste a recipe 3 to 5 times) and I am not happy yet. But I learned one thing: If I use fruit yogurt you really taste the flavour… we have a nice lemon yogurt from Trentino here, so I don’t even need to grate the lemon zest hehehehe

I didn’t cook with mum. She cooked everyday of course, but my assistance was limited to cleaning the parsley, making stripes on the potato gnocchi with a fork, and occasionally I was allowed to make a cake.

Anna Johnston August 22, 2010 at 10:28 am

I do like your ‘go to cake’ :)
Where did I learn to cook you ask? Funny story…, I’ve always been an arty type and yet as much as I enjoy the process of painting & creating with colours I had to admit during school I would never be enough when it came to my art. Just quietly, I was even more so ‘not enough, when it came to being a cook – but then I saw a competition to go to culinary school that promised a scholarship & I proudly announced at dinner one night that I was going to be a chef. The response was stunned silence (you see I couldn’t bare touching raw meat) – eat it yes, touch it… nah :(
With sniggers of laughter they left me to create an original recipe, so I poured over cookbooks all night & at breakfast I asked my mum (a great cook) what she thought. Wiped the smile right off her face…., she loved it. I entered…., I competed, I won… & the rest as they say….. is history! Yes… I did conquer my dislike of raw meat you’ll be pleased to know :)

Anh August 22, 2010 at 11:58 am

beautiful cake! I love yoghurt cake! and this one looks light and yummy

Maria @ ScandiFoodie August 22, 2010 at 9:20 pm

This looks so lovely and super moist! Delicious! Hey, I didn’t always know how to cook either (sometimes I still think I can’t), but we had compulsory classes at school and mum always pushed me into cooking. I think the real test was when I moved out at 18 though! I had no choice but to learn!

Sasa August 22, 2010 at 9:22 pm

So interesting to hear your stories! We had home ec for a year or two too actually (also metalwork and woodwork) but I have no idea what we learned…Scones, maybe?

Old Cow August 22, 2010 at 9:57 pm

This cake looks delicious. I must try to make it one day.

Your story of the drunk lady made me giggle at the thought. I remember watching a drunken neighbour trying to make his way home. He ended up in someones hedge!

sally August 23, 2010 at 7:40 am

beautiful cake, looks scrumptious yo.

Kerry@Foodlovas August 23, 2010 at 10:03 am

I also was forced into cooking for myself when I moved out to go to university. For some reason I gravitated to a stirfry frozen meal that I ate most nights of the week. It came with veggies and sauce, add meat and rice and voila – a “healthy meal”! To this day, I can’t help but smile when I see the red box in the freezer section.

catty August 23, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Ahhhh you and ScandiFoodie both doing lemony things today.. makes me want some lemon!!! Learn to cook? I still dont know how. I still feel like I fuddle through everything!

Zoë August 24, 2010 at 11:36 am

I learnt from my mum – I remember cooking quite a lot for my parents and I as a teenager. It was the era of Delia Smith and her Summer Collection (which seemed positively avant-garde) and Nigel Slater’s Real Food. There was perhaps an overabundance of feta and sundried tomatoes, vegetarian moussaka and scone-dough pizza but for the most part my food was edible…

Liam O'Malley August 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm

While I would occasionally help with the odd batch of cookies back when I was a kid, I really never started seriously cooking until I was maybe 24, 25? It took awhile. I learned a couple dishes earlier in college, but frankly my diet in most of high school and college was atrocious. Like bologna sandwiches and mayonnaise atrocious. All the time.

But it’s all good though… I just use it as an excuse that I need to make up for lost time, now, and it’s nothing but another motivating factor for me =)

Justin Orde August 25, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Been way too long since I’ve checked this blog – work work work :( So, glad to return and not be disappointed by the stories or the the recipes! First started cooking when I got my Home help badge in Cub Scouts – Chicken Maryland was the dish!

my little expat kitchen August 26, 2010 at 6:35 pm

I learned to cook from my family. My granddad, my grandmom, my mom. Everyone cooked so it only came natural to me to do it as well.
I wasn’t good though at a young age. I made all sorts of mistakes. Hopefully I learned from them and certainly evolved :)
Your cake looks fantastic. So fresh!

Couscous & Consciousness August 29, 2010 at 3:37 am

Great cake, Sasa. It’s wonderful to have a few stand-bys in your repertoire that you keep coming back to over and over again.
I first started to learn to cook when I left home at 19 and moved to Sydney for a couple of years – prior to that I was mostly banned from the kitchen because of the amount of mess I used to make (still a messy cook). The first dish I learned to make was a ghastly “Apricot Chicken” that everyone used to make in the 70′s – put chicken pieces in a shallow dish, sprinkle with a packet of Maggi onion powder, pour over a tin of apricot nectar, and bake for 45 minutes. Makes me shudder now to think of it, but I sure made it a lot back then :-)

Carla September 2, 2010 at 2:37 pm

The first time I actually had to cook more than a bowl of pasta for myself I was 20… Or 21…
Yes, I’m serious.

Yuliya September 2, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Hey Sasa!
I am not a baker by any means but I am going to bake this cake! One question though – when do I pour the syrup over it? On a slice or on the whole thing (let me repeat myself – I have no idea how to bake)?
I moved across the ocean at 21. I used to put cilantro (yes, you heard me…) into every dish I made back when I started cooking for myself. It was very exotic for me and I really liked the tase of it :-)

Sasa September 4, 2010 at 4:29 pm

The whole cake while hot, as in right after it comes out of the oven but you can keep some to pour over each slice if you’re a sweet tooth!

Yuliya September 8, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Hi Sasa!

This cake was my first success in baking! I served it to my future in-laws and they loved it! We finished the whole thing in one sitting! It looked just like yours and I also scattered some blueberries on top! Making it again for a dinner party with my girlfriends next week (so excited)!!!!

Thank you so much,

molly September 8, 2010 at 3:31 am

This looks perfect, like the best sort of everyday fare. Yum…

Cherine October 7, 2010 at 9:04 am

Wonderful cake!

sue October 10, 2010 at 9:23 am

Hi there Sasa,
I had the pleasure of meeting you while on my hoilday in Feltre with Alessandra and the kids. Reading thru your friends comments many memories of cooking for and with my mother and grandmothers came rushing through me. It was always a way to stop a fight starting as my older brothers began picking on me, a call would come from the kitchen “Sue come and stir this” or “oh Sue come and peel these”. Being one of the youngest but able to see into a sauce pan saved me many times.
I’ve really enjoyed your blog and what great video, looking forward to lots more.

Lucy October 18, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Hi – I made this cake today – it’s beautiful – do you mind if I post it on my blog? Will give you full credit of course!

Kerry November 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Yum! I saw this on Lucy’s blog (above) and am definitely going to give it a whirl too!

su December 2, 2010 at 11:04 pm

sasa, your recipes are addictive. a record of my last two hours: i craved for cake badly, with 20 cm of fresh snow outside, i wouldn’t take a step to get me some. found out there was no butter in the fridge, gave in frustrated, then found this recipe and barely an hour later have already eaten half of it. grrrr… very bad for the figure but good for the soul :)
funny to say but i improved my cooking skills a lot through food blogs (!) whereas cook books i found mostly intimidating. my mum never let me do something in the kitchen (belonging to a complex generation, she didn’t like the notion of women doing housework) so i had to find my own ways.

Clare March 4, 2011 at 4:52 am

Hi, I made your lemon cake yesterday for a friend who doesn’t love chocolate (always my first choice). It was so easy and absolutely delicious. I halved the recipe, used a brown rice/tapioca/potato starch gluten free flour mix and soy yoghurt. It might not have browned as nicely as with wheat flour but was gobbled down appreciatively. I overdid the lemon syrup a little but that didn’t matter either. It is already one of my favourites. Thanks for sharing it.

Sasa March 4, 2011 at 8:14 am

I’m glad you both enjoyed it! It’s such a fail-safe number.

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