Yogurt, fresh lemon and almond give this sunny Almond Lemon Cake a unique flavor and texture that everyone will love. Perfect for brunch, tea or dessert!
I’ve long been a fan of yogurt, replacing it in my favorite savory recipes for anything that calls for mayonnaise or sour cream, but also in sweets and baked goods. Don’t knock it until you try it- hubby didn’t even notice a difference!
Yogurt in Baked Goods
Yogurt is a versatile and delicious ingredient that deserves to be celebrated! You can even make your own yogurt at home super easy in the Instant Pot.
A recipe that I have prepared several times now is the Almond Lemon Cake, a versatile sweet treat that complements coffee or tea and can be served for any meal or course of the day. Some might call it a lemon pound cake, however the crumb is slightly less dense.
Simple to prepare, I prefer to get my arm workout in and hand beat with my trusty whisk rather than lug out any heavy machinery. You can still use your stand mixer or an electric hand mixer if you prefer.
I always have all of the ingredients lying around to make a lemon loaf cake, especially an extra large container of plain Stonyfield yogurt, making it a no-brainer for last minute meals. I have also substituted other citrus flavors and vanilla for almond in a pinch.
Why You’ll Love This Cake
There are infinite reasons that this cake is loved by all, but here are a few of our favorite reasons.
- Light and fresh – I don’t know about you, but I love anything with lemon. The lemon flavors of this cake are light, bright and fresh and perfect for spring and summer.
- Easy – The ingredients are simple, and you don’t need a special cake pan to make it. Just a loaf pan and that’s it.
- Easily customizable – Although we love this recipe exactly as is, there are plenty of ways for you to make it your own.
Almond Lemon Cake Ingredients
All of these basic ingredients can easily be found at your local grocery store. You might even have some of them on hand already.
- Unsalted butter – I always prefer to use unsalted butter when baking. If using salted butter, just leave out the salt. Room temperature butter is best to work with. You’ll also need soft butter for greasing the pan.
- Flour – Regular all purpose flour is what we need for this lemon almond cake recipe. I’ve never made a flourless lemon almond cake or gluten-free lemon cake, but feel free to experiment.
- Baking powder and baking soda – Baking soda releases tiny bubbles into the cake during baking to make it light and airy. Baking powder acts as a leavener.
- Coarse Kosher salt – If using unsalted butter, this is a must to really bring out the flavors of your cake. If using salted butter, you can omit this altogether.
- Almond meal – This can be found near the flour in your baking aisle. But check the section below for instructions on how to make your own too.
- Lemons – You want these lemons to be relatively large. All we need them for is the zest and a little but of juice- but don’t throw out the lemons! Use them to make lemon curd, add lemon slices to the top of the cake or even make a lemon cream cheese frosting. Take this up a notch by using preserved lemons.
- Granulated sugar – Just good old plain white sugar is all we need for this delicious cake. I’ve never tried using a sugar substitute in this recipe, but feel free to experiment.
- Eggs – When baking, it’s always best to use eggs that are room temperature. Always assume that a recipe is calling for large eggs if it doesn’t specify. Some recipes call for only egg yolks or beaten egg whites, but we use the whole egg.
- Almond extract – To really amp up the almond flavor of this cake, we need almond extract. This is easily found near the vanilla extract down the spices aisle.
- Yogurt – Use either plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt, not Greek yogurt for this almond flour lemon cake. Vanilla flavor can also be used, as can lemon for extra lemon-y goodness.
- Confectioners’ sugar – Also known as powdered sugar, we will use this along with some lemon juice and yogurt, to make the delicious icing.
Make Your Own Almond Meal
Almond flour is very expensive, partially because almonds are so expensive! You can save a little bit of money buy making your almond meal or almond flour, which are the same thing and used interchangeably.
- Almond flour is the easiest to be made in the food processor. Use one cup of raw or blanched almonds in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse for 50-60 times in 1-second increments.
- Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl of the processor every 10 seconds to make sure that they are ground evenly.
One cup of raw almonds will result in about 3/4 cup almond meal. Of course since almonds are all different shapes and sizes, this can vary greatly.
How to Make Almond Lemon Cake
No cake pan? No problem! This cake is made in a loaf pan and it’s surprisingly easy to make.
- Prepare oven and pan. Preheat the oven with a rack in the center position. Generously butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
- Sift dry ingredients. Into a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the almond meal and lemon zest.
- Beat wet ingredients. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides as needed. Beat in the almond extract.
- Add dry ingredients. Slowly beat in half the dry ingredients, then the yogurt, then the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Raise the speed to medium and beat for a few minutes to develop some structure.
- Bake the cake. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until risen and golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack. Slide a knife around the perimeter and invert the cake onto the rack. Cool completely, then flip right side up.
- Ice the cake. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the yogurt and then the lemon juice until the icing is smooth, thick, and drips slowly from the whisk. Wave the whisk over the cake to drizzle lines of icing, or scrape the icing over the cake and smooth with an offset spatula.
What to Serve with Almond Lemon Cake
I usually serve this cake after dinner as dessert. The fresh lemon flavor makes it perfect for spring! You can serve it exactly as is, sliced.
We like this almond lemon cake recipe exactly as written, but feel free to change things up to your liking.
- Toppings – You can really top this cake with anything you’d like to. Top with a lemon syrup, poppy seeds, almond flakes, raspberry sauce or any other thing that pairs well with lemon desserts.
- Icing – Instead of the basic glaze I used, you can substitute it with a lemon cream cheese frosting, regular cream cheese frosting or even buttercream if you’re looking to go ultra sweet.
- Citrus – You could totally swap out the lemon for orange or even key lime if you’d like to switch things up totally.
Storage, Make Ahead and Freezing
Storage: Once the icing firms, cover the cake with plastic wrap. It can be kept at room temperature for up to 48 hours, or covered with a layer of foil and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Make ahead: I would make this Almond Lemon Cake no more than 24 hours in advance. Any cake is best served fresh.
Freezing: You can also freeze this cake. Be sure to wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a plastic freezer bag for best results. You can freeze for up to 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have not tried it personally, but others have and reported success. We’d love to hear how it worked for you!
I do not suggest doing this. This recipe needs the gluten in the flour to rise and bake properly.
Don’t like lemon? Sure! Make this into an Almond Loaf Cake instead! Omit lemon zest in the cake batter and use milk or water for the lemon juice in the glaze.
If you don’t have almond on hand, you can surely use vanilla extract. You can even use lemon for even more lemon flavor.
- Easy Lemon Bars
- Lemon Poppy Seed Scones
- Lemon Cheesecake Bars
- Easy Lemon Bars
- Lemon Blueberry Cake
- Lemon Cupcakes
Iced Almond-Lemon Loaf Cake
For the cake:
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature, plus soft butter for greasing the pan, 1¼ sticks
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- Zest of 2 large lemons
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure almond extract
- 1 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt not Greek
For the icing:
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt not Greek
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the center position. Generously butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
- Into a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the almond meal and lemon zest.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides as needed. Beat in the almond extract. Slowly beat in half the dry ingredients, then the yogurt, then the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 to 2 minutes to develop some structure.
- Bake the cake. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until risen and lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
- Cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Slide a knife around the perimeter and invert the cake onto the rack. Cool completely, then flip right side up.
- Ice the cake. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the yogurt and then the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the icing is smooth, thick, and drips slowly from the whisk. Wave the whisk over the cake to drizzle lines of icing, or scrape the icing over the cake and smooth with an offset spatula.
- Store. Once the icing firms, cover the cake with plastic wrap. It can be kept at room temperature for up to 48 hours, or covered with a layer of foil and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!