For me, spring and summer are the perfect time for simplicity. Time for relaxation over long, lazy meals al fresco and good conversation. And dessert should be equally simple and fresh. So during these months, I like to emphasize fresh fruit and unfussy pastries and rustic desserts.
If you're a lemon fan, you’ve probably already discovered Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake. It’s a luscious cake with great lemon flavor and a beautiful crumb, a recipe that works for lots of different applications. It’s delicious all by itself or alongside your favorite fruit. Here I reach for the new delivery of bright red cherries, among the very best gems at the market. Let's hope this year provides us with a bountiful crop.
The cherries this season are terrific. Here I’ve prepared them with some sugar, orange zest and a splash of balsamic to lend a note of acidity and brightness. A quick simmer on the stove softens them to a tender juicy bite.
Lemons and cherries, definitely a winning combination. Happy spring!
- Fresh cherries don’t need much sugar. Sweeten to your own taste and add balsamic a bit at a time until the compote has just enough of an acidic pop.
- The original cake recipe calls for an 8 1/2” x 4 1/4” x 2 1/2” loaf pan, so you can prepare this as a loaf cake if you wish. Bake for about 50 minutes.
- Garten soaks the cake with 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar that has been boiled to dissolve the sugar. Then she garnishes it with a glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. I just used a lemon simple syrup.
Lemon Yogurt Cake with Cherries
3 cups fresh cherries (about 1 lb, 2 oz)
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) sugar, to taste
zest of 1 orange
1 - 2 tablespoons balsamic, to taste
few grains of salt
Lemon Yogurt Cake
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (8oz) plain yogurt
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
3 eggs @ room temperature
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (4 oz) canola oil
1/4 cup (2 oz) lemon juice
1/4 cup (2 oz) water
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8” x 2 1/2” cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment.
For the cherry compote, pit the cherries and place them in a saucepan with the sugar and the orange zest. Cook over low heat until the juices begin to flow. Add the balsamic vinegar and a few grains of salt and cook just until the cherries are tender. Take off the heat and let cool while you prepare the cake batter.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until a tester placed in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 28 – 30 minutes.
While the cake is baking, make the glaze by bringing the lemon juice, water and sugar to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Place the baked cake on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake and remove the pan. Gently remove the parchment paper. Invert the cake again so it’s right side up and place on a wire rack that has been set on top of a sheet pan. Slowly pour the glaze over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool the cake completely.
Garnish the cake with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and serve with the cherry compote.