Warning, you are about to enter the Lemon Zone. This recipe has got all the lemon you can handle in one baked good!
I think it’s pretty obvious how much I adore anything lemony. If not, just scroll up and check the name of this blog! I’ve been a huge lemon yellow lover from the beginning. When all the other little girls were painting their rooms pinks and mauves, I convinced my parents that I needed a yellow and green room. And that has never changed. Those colours are still ones that just make me feel…happy! 😀
There is something just so charming and homey about a lemon pound cake. Doesn’t it make you think of living in the country, with gingham curtains fluttering at the window, the breeze cooling off a freshly baked cake, with a cat snoozing on a chair in the corner of the kitchen?! Whether it is filled with poppy seeds or blueberries, a glazed slice of lemon pound cake will always bring a smile to my tastebuds. But through the years I have baked up some recipes that just left me wanting. Either too dry, not lemony enough, too sweet, the sugar overshadowed the lemon, etc. I want to taste lemon first and foremost. And sure, I want it to be sweet. But I need to have that tang!
About 4 years back I thought I would give the lemon pound cake another try. This time I would use Adrianna’s recipe from her blog, A Cozy Kitchen. It baked up perfectly. It was moist, lemony and easy to make. I made it over and over, and was sooo happy every time.
Instead of butter for the fat, this recipe relies on yogurt, and olive oil. It makes for such a moist cake. It comes together so easily. Two bowls, one for the dry, the other for the wet. And a whisk or spoon. That’s it! The glaze is milk and icing sugar- pretty straightforward, right? And to top it all off, Adrianna uses candied lemon slices.
So, what was there for me to improve on? Nothing, you would say. And when I use the word ‘improve’ it is not in the sense that the recipe needed help. Not at all, it was exactly what you want from a straightforward, happy lemon pound cake. But I still felt that the lemon factor could be amped up.
So here’s what this cake morphed into. First of all, instead of the two teaspoons of lemon zest in the batter, I use 3 heaping teaspoons. I replaced some of the milk for the glaze with lemon juice. And then things get interesting.
Instead of the candied lemon being a final step, because it is simply a garnish, I move this step to the beginning. And instead of using slices (which don’t cut up easily when you actually want to serve up the cake) I take a bar zester, a tool that creates those long curly cues from the lemon peel and use it on 3 or 4 lemons. Now, if you can’t find one of these tools, go ahead and use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to slice thinly along the skin, trying to avoid grabbing the bitter pith along with the skin. Cut of large pieces, and then slice these into thin long ribbons. Whatever way you create these ribbons, they will get placed into bubbling water for a minute to soften. Drain the water and repeat. This is especially necessary if you are using the ribbons created with a knife or peeler. You want to boil them several times to remove any bitterness from attached pith.
Then you’ll drain them well on paper towel. Meanwhile, bring some water and sugar to a simmering boil. Add the lemon ribbons and simmer them until they have softened and become somewhat translucent. Carefully remove these onto a parchment lined plate. The remaining syrup in the pot will be used in the cake later on. The slightly cooled lemon ribbons will get tossed in a small bowl of sugar. Shake off any excess sugar and leave to dry in fresh bowl. The sugar may have bits of lemon in it. Great, this will also be part of the cake batter!
You may wonder, what do I do with all those peeled lemons? Only a little will be needed later for the glaze. So what I do, is slice them up, lay them onto a parchment line baking sheet, and put them in the freezer. Once frozen, they’ll get added to a freezer bag of lemon slices that I keep to make our lemon water with. I also have a container of zest. Yes, I am that girl! Before I usually slice up the lemons for freezing, I zest them, and keep the frozen zest ready for when I need some zest. I also add the zest to our lemon water. It’s very good for you!!
After the cake has come out the oven, I take a skewer and poke holes all over the cake. Then I drizzle some of the reserved lemony simple syrup into the holes. The cake gets topped off with the lemony glaze. And then the sugared lemon ribbons are scattered on top. So yes, this cake has lemon from beginning to end!
Oh, did I forget to mention the mint?! That’s right. I had some fresh mint in the fridge one day when I was getting ready to bake this baby up. I thought, sure, why not?! I’ve added thyme leaves to the batter in the past and loved it. So this time I would try mint. I chopped up a couple of tablespoons and added it to the dry ingredients. Then I sprinkled some more mint confetti over the glaze. It’s a lovely fresh accompaniment to the lemon. Lemon and Mint really do go well together. And it JUST hit me. This is the colour combo that I wanted for my bedroom when I was 10!! So I guess you could say, this cake was inspired by my bedroom!!
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. I baked it up the other week again, but I used a lovely Red Spring wheat flour. It is an all purpose flour, and bakes up with a lovely texture. However, it has a reddish hue to the grains, and this translates into a flour that has a whole wheat colouring. So when the cake came out of the oven, it was a russet orange, instead of a happy yellow. Oh dear. Of course, if I closed my eyes, it tasted wonderful. But I knew the colour would be off-putting to some. So I ran out and got a bag of regular, unbleached flour, and baked another cake. Yep, it was YELLOW. And it was GOOD!
Lemon and Mint Yogurt Pound Cake
This has all the lemon you can desire in one cake. It's in the glaze, it's in the candied lemon ribbon garnish, zest and lemon syrup in the cake itself. And if that wasn't enough, fresh mint is a lovely accessory! A moist and tender pound cake that would make your grandma proud.
Candied Lemon Ribbons
- 3 to 4 organic lemons washed
- 1 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup
Lemon and Mint Cake
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped mint packed
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup white granulated sugar start with the lemon sugar above to make up this amount
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tsp grated lemon zest From about 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped mint
Candied Lemon Peel:
Using a bar zester or vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemon in vertical strips, trying to leave as much of the bitter white pith behind.
In a small saucepan, combine the peels with 2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil. Immediately drain, refill the pan with water, bring to a boil and drain again. Repeat this process three times to remove the bitterness from the peel. After the third dunking remove the peels from the pan and set aside. (if using ribbons created by a bar zester, you will only need to go through this process once)
Measure 1 cup of the sugar into a saucepan, and add 1/2 of water. Set over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Drop in the peels, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until the peels are tender and translucent. Drain and cool the peels. Keep the syrup for pouring over the cake.
Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl and add the peels. Toss with your fingers until the peels are thoroughly coated. Remove one peel at a time shaking off the excess sugar. Place on a clean plate until needed.
Reserve the unused sugar (even if there are lemon bits in it) for when baking the cake- you will need a total of 3/4 cup of granulated sugar for the cake, start with this batch for measuring.
Store any unused lemon peel in an airtight container. Keeps for several weeks in an airtight container.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. (I used a 4 x 10 in the photos) Line the pan with parchment paper, so that it overhangs the long sides by about an inch on either side. Spray with non-stick spray on all four sides.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the mint and toss to coat evenly with the flour.
In another medium-sized bowl, whisk together the yogurt, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs and lemon zest.
Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
With a rubber spatula, fold the olive oil into the batter, making sure it’s completely incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean. The size of your pan will affect baking times. I often find I am baking this for a good 55-60 minutes. But start checking after 45 minutes.
Once out of the oven, let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes, on a cooling rack.
After 15 minutes, take a wooden skewer and poke holes randomly all over the cake. Go about 2/3's of the way in. Using a small spoon, take the remaining lemon simple syrup from the candy-ing proccess and pour slowly over the cake, allowing the syrup to flow down the holes. I use about 4 tbsp.
To make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and the milk, and mix until smooth.
Remove the cake from the pan using the overhanging parchment paper. Place the cake on the cooling rack set over a wax paper or parchment lined baking sheet.
Pour the glaze slowly over the cake and then garnish with the lemon ribbons and freshly chopped mint.
Save any leftover lemon simple syrup for iced tea etc!
Lemon Yogurt Pound Cake inspired by A Cozy Kitchen
Candied Lemon Peel instructions adapted from The Splendid Table