Every year about this time, I feel the need to discover the summer’s best dessert. Last year it was this ethereal Berries on a Cloud (you must make it). This year it’s lemon cake. But not just any lemon cake. Glazed Lemon Yogurt Sheet Cake.
It’s a spin off from one of my favorite quick breads and quite honestly, I think I prefer the cake version over the bread version. It’s less dense and well, more light and fluffy and cakey. And I guess what I’m saying is, while I love lemon bread, I really, really heart lemon cake.
The cake itself is not overly sweet but gets a boost of lemon flavor and sweetness from the light lemony glaze poured over the top while it’s still warm. Let’s pause as we all contemplate the loveliness of warm, glazed cake. Ok, moving on.
Basically, if you love lemon desserts and if you like lighter fare during the summer and if you appreciate and admire from-scratch cakes that come together quickly and are unfussy, this cake is for you (PS if you feel zesting a lemon is fussy, then ignore that last statement).
This cake, well-covered, stays moist for several days and dare I say, it may even taste better a few hours or half a day after baking instead of being eaten right away. But as mentioned above, we’ve been guilty of diving in while it’s still warm and actually, I take that whole better thing back – it’s divine either way. I have a feeling our summer is going to be filled with (in no particular order): sun, popsicles, mosquitoes, bike rides, late bedtimes, and lemon yogurt sheet cake.
If you don't have applesauce or don't want to use it, just up the oil amount to 3/4 cup instead of 1/2 (conversely, you could experiment adding more applesauce in place of the oil although I haven't tried it). With the freshly squeezed lemon juice in the cake and in the glaze, you'll probably need about 4 large lemons for this recipe. Don't forget to zest them before you juice them! Also, if you don't have a zester, you can use the small holes of a box grater to zest the lemon - just take care not shred too deep into the rind of the lemon (the white part is bitter!).
- 2 3/4 cups (about 13.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup oil (coconut, canola, etc.)
- 1/4 cup no-sugar added applesauce (see note)
- 1 cup plain lowfat yogurt or plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the lemon zest and sugar and lightly rub together with your fingers until well combined (this releases the oils in the zest and amplifies lemon flavor). Whisk in the eggs, oil, applesauce, yogurt, lemon juice and vanilla; mixing well.
- Stir in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined (don't overmix!).
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs.
- While the cake is baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth and pourable (I use the full 2 tablespoons lemon juice but you might want to start with the lesser amount and add more, as needed, if you don't want your glaze quite as runny). Let the cake rest for 10 minutes after baking and then pour the glaze over the warm cake.
- Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. This cake, if well-covered, stays moist for several days.
Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (adapted from one of my favorite quick breads – this Lemon Yogurt bread)