Lemon Zing Coffee Cake Recipe

I thought this rainy, dreary week called for something sunny—like this cake, which is dense and moist like a pound cake, bright and zingy, and with a few simple recipe changes, low-fat.  The genius Ina’s original lemon yogurt cake recipe is flavored with lemon only, but as you might have noticed, I have a thing for ginger.  The combination of the bright citrus and the subtle extra punch of the ginger gives this cake something special.

Magic, especially with some fresh berries, a pinch of citrus mint from my potted herb garden and a girlfriend to share it with (thanks for the company Heather Jane!) . . .

*One basic baking tip:  if cooking is art, baking is science–chemistry to be exact.  Precise measuring is really important.  I was a flour packer for years (you know, scoop up your flour in the measuring cup and smoosh it against the side of the bag to pack it in) . . . which is a sure way to give yourself too much flour and heavy baked goods.  Instead, if you don’t have a sifter (I don’t), gently spoon the flour into your measuring cup, DON’T tap on the counter (that packs it in too), and level with the flat edge of a knife.  Bingo, perfect balance of dry and wet ingredients!  It’s also important not to over-mix your wet with your dry ingredients, especially on low-fat recipes.  Just gently incorporate until you don’t see any more dry bits of flour.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth.

Lemon Zing Coffee Cake
(Adapted from Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake)


Ever made a paper snowflake? Then you have the skills to make a perfect parchment paper circle to line your springform pan.

Ever made a paper snowflake? Then you have the skills to make a perfect parchment paper circle to line your springform pan.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt (regular or Greek is fine)
1 cup sugar
1 large eggs and 3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)*
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

*This is Ina’s measurement.  I grated one lemon and got a LOT more zest, so it’s all going to depend on how big your lemons are.  I used all that zest (probably 4 teaspoons), ’cause I wanted my cake super lemony.  I recommend it!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a nine-inch springform pan (or an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan). Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Photography compliments of Heather Jane Rolff

Photography compliments of Heather Jane Rolff

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, applesauce, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.


When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Unhook your springform pan and place on a plate to cool for another 10 minutes.  For the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, grated ginger, and lemon juice together until smooth and pour over the cake.  The thickness of your glaze can be controlled with more or less lemon juice.  Decorate with berries and fresh mint.

Casey Clark