This cake is probably the first recipe I ever tried off of somebody’s blog. It is also the first thing I baked after going gluten-free. With regular flour out of my life, I turned to the internet for answers and inspiration. I discovered food blogging. First, I found Shauna, a.k.a the Gluten Free Girl. I loved how honest her blog was, and I loved her attitude towards food. I didn’t have any desire to sit around and feel sorry for myself or mourn the loss of wheat; instead, I was excited about feeling better, and ready to embrace my new lifestyle. Reading her blog, I felt as though I had found a kindred spirit. I went back to the beginning, and read every single post, I talked about her blog to my friends (imagine a conversation that goes something like this: friend: “how was your day,” me: “good, I read this amazing post on that blog I’m reading…”). I spent hours, literally hours a day reading every word, until one day I caught up to the present. All of the sudden, I was limited to one post, every couple of days or so… desperate, I turned to her links, and I found Molly (a.k.a Orangette).
While reading Shauna’s blog I felt a connection over our shared attitude towards being gluten-free, but with Molly it was something else. Her blog has, of course, wonderful food. But it wasn’t the food that kept bringing me back day after day to read every single entry of her blog. Instead, it was the fact that Molly’s blog was both exhilarating and frightening to me. She had faced herself, her true loves and passions, and had left her graduate program, and it was the best decision that she could have made. Having just gone through a very busy, stressful semester of graduate school, and unsure what I wanted from my life, her blog, to put it lightly, pushed my buttons.
And when I read about this cake…the cake that led her husband to her. I had to have it. Never mind, that it had gluten, never mind that I had never baked anything gluten-free. I wanted lemon yogurt cake. I somehow felt that my ability to be satisfied with my own life depended on my ability to successfully recreate that cake. So I read Bette Hagman’s suggestions for converting recipes, and dove in.
Amazingly, it was spectacular the first time. All summer, every time I had any excuse to make a dessert, I made this cake. By the end of the summer, I had the recipe memorized, and could whip the batter together in minutes. I tried all sorts of flour mixes, and never had a problem with any of them, that is, until I tried a flour mix that involved garbanzo beans (beans and lemons in a cake = yuck). The yogurt helps give the cake a fabulous texture and moisture, regardless of flour choice. I’m not sure if my happiness ever really rested on this cake’s success, but if it did, the results were felicitous.
By the end of the summer I was moving on to exploring new recipes, ready to face a new semester of graduate school, and this cake faded to a fond memory, until the other night. Asked to bring dessert to a dinner party, with my tongue still remembering last week’s Meyer lemon bars, I couldn’t not make this cake.
Lemon Yogurt Cake
This cake is light and refreshing, and the glaze packs a tangy lemony punch. I’ve also made it with orange zest and orange juice, and sometimes I throw some almond flour into the mix (the almond works especially well with the orange flavors). I am convinced that it would make a good layer cake with a very lemony buttercream frosting (I would probably still do the glaze in addition to the frosting, but then again, I like a lot of lemon). Molly also makes a strawberry version, which looks heavenly. Even if you don’t think you are a cake person, you should try this recipe, it is nothing like a box mix cake, and if you don’t like it, your friends will.
For the cake:
½ cup plain yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup tapioca starch
½ cup potato starch
¾ tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
½ cup canola oil
For the glaze:
Juice from 2 lemons
¼ cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs, stirring until well blended. In a small bowl, combine the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, and zest, mixing to just combine. Add the oil and stir to incorporate, continue stirring until it comes together into a smooth batter (this will take a little while). Pour and scrape the batter into a buttered 9-inch round cake pan (you can also butter, then line the bottom of the pan with a round of wax or parchment paper, and then butter that too).
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake.
Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes; then turn it out of the pan to cool completely.
When the cake is thoroughly cooled, combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.