I made a New Year’s Resolution, did you? Instead of making one to lose an astronomical amount of weight or even vow to be healthier (which I fail annually), I resolved to cook at least once per week from my ever growing collection of cookbooks.
It is now May and I fear I’ve failed at my resolutions once again. That was until I received my new favorite cookbook: Yogurt Culture, written by award-winning food writer Cheryl Sternman Rule. 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. Rule shares my love of yogurt with 115 tasty recipes that teach you how to pair yogurt not just with fruit but with meat, not just with sugar but with salt and not just with herbs but with fragrant spices.
A recipe that I have prepared several times now is the Iced Almond-Lemon Loaf Cake, a versatile sweet treat that complements coffee or tea and can be served for any meal or course of the day. Simple to prepare, I prefer to get my arm workout in and hand beat with my trusty OXO whisk rather than lug out any heavy machinery.
I always have all of the ingredients lying around, 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.
- 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
- 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.