- 1⅔ cups granulated sugar
- 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
- 5 large eggs
- 1½ cups plain yogurt
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon extract (optional)
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (0.8 ounce) package freeze-dried strawberries (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup powdered sugar, plus more as needed
- 3 tablespoons whole milk, plus more as needed
Whenever I’m in need of a quick breakfast, an iced lemon loaf cake from my nearby coffee shop is always the answer. There’s just something about the bold lemon flavor and moist, pound cake-like texture that can’t be beat. That’s why I decided to start baking my own version of the beloved cake, so my go-to breakfast is never out of reach (and more truthfully: to save myself some money).
This version — a somewhat copycat version of the coffee house cake — relies on both oil and yogurt to lend the cake a lush texture that keeps it moist for days. A combination of both lemon zest and juice gives the cake its signature peppy brightness while a hearty dose of vanilla rounds it out. The star of the show — the striking strawberry glaze — is what takes this cake to the next level. While the classic lemon loaf is glazed with a simple vanilla icing, my version ups the ante with a technicolored strawberry glaze. It takes the concept of the coffee house cake to a whole new, more colorful level.
The secret to the glaze’s bold color and assertive flavor is freeze-dried strawberries. These can be found in the dried fruit or snack section of grocery stores and are not only great for eating, but wonderful for adding a pop of fruity flavor to baked goods. In this recipe, the berries are pulverized into a powder and mixed into the glaze to tint it a ruby hue, which also lends a bold berry flavor. The glaze gets poured over the lemon loaf, taking things to a whole new level.
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Make the cake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Spray a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with a strip of parchment paper that hangs over the long sides of the loaf pan about 2 inches to create a sling.2.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Use your hands to massage the zest into the sugar until very fragrant. Add the lemon juice, eggs, yogurt, oil, vanilla and lemon extract to the sugar and whisk until smooth and no streaks of unincorporated egg remain. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix using a rubber spatula until a smooth batter forms.3.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread into an even layer. (The batter will come up about three-fourths the way to the top of the pan. It doesn’t rise as much as a normal cake, so don’t fret.) Place the loaf pan on top of a sheet pan and bake until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached, 60 to 70 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully remove it from the pan, place on a wire rack and cool.4.
As the cake is cooling, make the glaze: Place the freeze-dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment and process until the strawberries are broken down into a very fine powder with no visible pieces, 20 to 30 seconds. (Alternatively, use a blender or place the strawberries into a large zip-top bag and smash with your hands, then pass through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any large pieces.) Transfer the strawberry powder into a large mixing bowl and add the powdered sugar and milk. Whisk until the powdered sugar is completely dissolved. The glaze should be thick but pourable. If it’s too loose, add more powdered sugar. If it’s too stiff, add more milk. Pour the glaze over the top of the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides, and let set for 1 hour before slicing.
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