Recipe: Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Cake

Sometimes you bake things because you need to use up what's in the fridge. Recently I've be struggling real hard with using fruits and vegetables and eating leftovers before they find there way to the back of my fridge to turn and grow mold (adulting is hard, folks!). So when the weekend hit and I had some time to spend in the kitchen, I decided to figure out a simple recipe that would use up some blueberries, lemons, and yogurt instead of running out to the store. 

This recipe looks like a lot of steps, but it's fairly simple to make. Plus, unlike cookies or cupcakes or even a layer cake, this batter all goes into one pan and into the oven, with just a few check-ins needed. No running back and forth to the oven to load in more cookies or refill cupcake pans, which was just what I wanted from this Saturday morning baking session. 

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Cake

Yields one loaf
adapted from this Bon Appetit Magazine

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon zest, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 handfuls of blueberries
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
8 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, divided
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a loaf pan by lining with parchment paper so the hangs over on the long sides and spraying it with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. In a separate bowl, toss blueberries with 2 teaspoons of flour until coated. Side aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add granulated sugar and lemon zest and work the zest into the sugar with your fingers until slight clumps appear and mixture is fragrant. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla and beat until light and thick, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, then 3/4 cup of yogurt. Scrape down the bowl. Add the rest of the dry ingredients followed by 5 tablespoons of lemon juice. Using a spatula, fold in blueberries until they are evenly throughout the batter and scrape into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven. Poke holes into the top of the cake and brush with remaining 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Cool for 15 minutes and then lift cake out of pan with parchment paper and let cool completely on a wire rack. 

Whisk together powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon of water, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl until combined and drizzle over cooled cake. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest (optional) and let glaze set, about 30 minutes, before slicing.

Recipe: Simple Lemon Curd

I think lemon curd will always and forever remind me of my mom. We both share a love of British Tea houses and we've spent a lot of time eating little tea sandwiches, drinking tea, and covering scones in lemon curd and clotted cream. It's just this quirky thing we like to do on weekends or when we both have the same day off from work, and it's usually followed up with a stop at a thrift store or the mall.

This recipe is very simple: lemon juice and zest, eggs, sugar, and butter. I like my lemon curd on the tart side, so this is pretty tart with the right amount of sweetness for me. I was having a really hard time not eating this entire jar.

Simple Lemon Curd

Yield about 1 cup

  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick of butter, cut in half
  • You'll also need a fine mesh strainer

Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, lemon zest, eggs, egg yolk, and salt together over a double boiler over medium-high heat. Whisk continuously for 7-10 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken and begins to smell distinctively like lemon curd. Turn off heat and add butter, folding in with a spatula. Mix butter into curd until the butter is completely melted and incorporated.

Place fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Pour curd into strainer, and lightly push it through with a spatula. This will make sure your curd is smooth and strain out any small pieces of egg or seeds. Place into a air tight container and store in refrigerator for up to 4 days. Curd will thicken further after a few hours in the refrigerator.

The goal is to just keep whisking. It's a grand arm workout!

If you're wondering what the put your homemade lemon curd on, try toast, scones, biscuits, pancakes, cupcakes. Really any kind of breakfast carbs or desserts. Or, place it into a pretty jar, tie some ribbon around it and give it as a gift! 

Recipe: Lemon Scones

Each season has it's own particular flavors that are associated with it for me. Fall is obviously pumpkin. Summer is mint and watermelon, and ice cream (Can I call ice cream a flavor?). Winter is gingerbread and I guess peppermint (which I don't like). And Spring? Spring is lemon because it's zesty and fresh. And lemon anything is better than plain ol' vanilla. At least, in my opinion.

I feel like I need to tell you that I am by no means a scone expert. I love scones, especially eating them, but this is my first time baking them at home. The ingredients are familiar: butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and soda, eggs, buttermilk. And the method doesn't seem too hard: mix everything together, cut in butter, form scones, and bake. But somehow it still seemed foreign to me. After a couple attempts, I nailed down something that was pretty tasty. Here's the end result:

Lemon Scones

Makes 12 scones

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 stick cold butter (I used salted because that's what I had), cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons additional buttermilk and coarse/decorating sugar for toppping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar with a wooden spoon. Add butter chunks and cut in with your hands or a pastry blender until the mixture is coarse/sandlike and butter pieces are the size of peas. In a mixing cup, lightly beat buttermilk and egg to combine. Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring with wooden spoon just enough to soften the dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead about 7-10 times. Roll/pat into a 1-inch thickness. Using a pairing or steak knife, I cut off the rounded edges created a large square, then cut nine 2x2 inch squares out of it. Reshape the scraps and create three more scones. Place scones on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush lightly with buttermilk and generously sprinkle with coarse or clear decorating sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown in the upper third of your oven. Serve warm and top with butter, lemon curd, or jam.

Scones don't last too long, so eat the same day or store in an airtight container for an additional day. 

These would perfectly accompany any weekend brunch. Who needs toast when you've got these babies.

Recipe: Basic Lemon Bars

Sometimes you need to cut the crap and get down to basics. And that is what this recipe is all about. I remember making these basic lemon bars with my babysitter during the summer when my parents were at work. They're everything that you want in a lemon bar. Gooey, buttery crust, tart, and slightly sweet. Sometimes you don't need to mess with the basics.

Basic Lemon Bars

Yields 9-12 bars (depending on how big you cut them)

  • 1c flour
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/4c powdered sugar
  • 1c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8x8 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In an electric mixer, combine flour, powdered sugar, and butter until crumbly and the butter is evenly distributed throughout. Press the dough evenly into the pan with your hands, making sure to go up the sides slightly. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Whisk together eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, baking powder, sugar, and salt until combined and fluffy. Pour over hot crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until no indentation remains when touched slightly in the center and is slightly darker in color.

Let lemon bars cool completely, then cut into 1 1/2 inch squares. Dust with powdered sugar.

They're as good as they look. No joke.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

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Even though I make cupcakes at home and rarely eat the ones I make, I still can't help but buy cupcakes if Tim and I stumble upon a cute cupcake shop. I love seeing the decor and how they frost and decorate. I also like to compare my cupcakes to what people are making on a larger scale and selling for $2-4 a pop. In most cases, I always get some kind of lemon cupcakes because I couldn't quite figure it out at home. With a little guidance from many many lemon cake recipes, here's what I came up with and are pretty darn tasty!

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Lemon Cupcakes

Yields 24 cupcakes

  • 14tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 3/4c castor sugar (I took regular sugar and pulsed it in my food processor for a few minutes)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/4c milk
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 3 1/2c flour
  • Lemon curd

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add each egg one at a time. Once combined and fluffy, add lemon zest and juice, vanilla, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until combined.

Add flour to the butter mixture, alternating between flour and milk. Only mix until combined so you don't overmix. Overmixing=dry cupcakes.

Fill each cupcake liner maximum 3/4 full. You want them to stay light yellow, so be sure to not overfill as the batter will touch the sides of the pan and darken. Maybe you don't care about that, that's fine too.  Bake for 15-20 minutes. After 15 minutes, keep a very close eye on them as you want them to almost be uncooked, but still set inside. You want them to stay pale on top. Let cool completely, then top with lemon curd.

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Gooey Marshmallow Meringue Frosting

Yields enough for 48 cupcakes

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1c sugar
  • 1/2tsp cream of tartar
  • 1tsp vanilla

You'll remember this recipe from the S'mores Cupcakes from two weeks ago.

Whisk egg whites, sugar, and cream and tartar in a double boiler over medium-high heat. Whisk frequently until mixture reaches 160 degrees (I used a candy thermometer). Transfer mixture into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beginning at low speed, gradually increase speed to medium-high until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes. Mix in vanilla.

I piped my frosting on with a 1M Wilton tip and then used a creme brulee torch to toast the marshmallow topping. Please excuse that in these photos, I made the mistake of not whisking the meringue enough and the peaks weren't stiff enough. But hey, you win some, you loose some. They are still quite delicious!

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Adding the lemon curd is optional of course, but it definitely adds a little bite to the sweet cakes and sugary meringue. Tim actually said to me after eating one, "You know I'm a chocolate person and I think they're really good!"  So that must mean something!

Happy Baking!