Lemon, Olive Oil and Yogurt Cake (One Bowl)

All desserts are better when they’re made in one bowl. This one has the tarty lemon flavor bolstered from the yogurt, and an intensely moist and tender crumb thanks to the olive oil. A guaranteed hit with the family!

Hey, hungry people! Looking for a quick, easy, no-mess recipe to serve for guests or treat yourself? This is your best bet! When it comes to summer desserts, lemons are winner for me. Anything with lemons in it, I’m sold. And this lemon, olive oil and yogurt cake is so soft, moist and tender. It nearly melts in your mouth without being dense or overly sweet or tart. Yep, this cake is so light, you’ll head for seconds and thirds in no time.

Add to that, the lemony sugar syrup abosrbs through the cake, giving it an added tarty sweetness. Just remember to poke the heck out of your heck without destroying it of course. The more holes you poke, the more you get those extra moist spots with a burst of lemon!

Gâteaux de mamie

This recipe is inspired from the traditional French Gâteaux de mamie, translated to Grandmother’s cake, called so due to the fact that it is considered a popular dessert baked by grandmothers using fresh lemons an yogurt. I have modified the traditional recipe slightly, of course, with the addition of olive oil giving it extra richness and a balance of flavor. You don’t really taste the olive oil, but it does balance out the sweet and the tart wonderfully while providing extra fat.

I recently made this for a family friends and those 10 slices disappeared among 4 people in no time! So don’t hesitate, this lemon, olive oil and yogurt cake recipe is the one to beat them all!

So let’s talk ingredients.

The three key components that give this cake life are the lemons, olive oil and yogurt. While you can’t really go around the lemons if you’re making lemon cake, the yogurt and olive oil can easily be subsituted if you’re out of either ingredient without taking anything away from the texture and taste.

One Bowl Magic

I’m a huge fan of one-bowl recipes and a huge believer in trying to see if everything I bake can simply be done in one bowl, saving me from cleaning up a mess! This recipe is so simple, requiring you to dump all ingredients in, one at a time, and mixing and beating.

One key element of this recipe, however, is the mixing technique. We want our ingredients to incorporate a lot of air as we mix. So use an electric or hand mixer if available, or use a whisk to beat by hand, but either way, make sure you beat in enough air without overmixing anything.

Can I substitute the yogurt with something else?

I use regular full-fat yogurt in this recipe, but you can easily swap with greek yogurt or buttermilk. If you just have milk, add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the required amount of milk in this recipe and let it curdle slightly till it forms buttermilk. You can use low-fat yogurt, however, it will take away some of the richness in the cake that comes from the fat.

Can I substitute the olive oil with something else?

Answer: easily. Feel free to use any other oil here. Neutral oils like vegetable oil or canola oil can be great options. But don’t be afraid to use any mildly flavored oil you might have. Almond cooking oil or peanut oil will complement the flavor of the lemon.

Can I use butter instead of oil?

Melted butter can replace oil in this recipe 1:1. But the best technique if using butter would be to cream it, which will require butter softened at room temperature. Creaming should be your first step in this recipe in this case.

What is creaming? Get softened butter that’s soft and moldable, but not greasy to touch. Letting the butter sit out at room temperature for about 1-2 hours should be sufficient, depending on the room temperature where you live. Next, using an electric mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter till it reaches a slightly creamy consistency. Add the sugar, and continue to beat till the butter becomes paler in color and reaches a fluffy consistency.

After that, continue with the rest of the recipe as instructed, adding the wet, and then the dry ingredients. You can do this all by hand, using a wooden spoon and a fork. Cream and whisk like you would an egg, but it won’t reach that same fluffy consistency.

Final touches

I use a simple lemon sugar syrup that I pour all over the cake while it’s still hot and fresh out of the oven. That allows the cake to absorb it inside and remain moist and tender, as well as adds an extra lemony kick to every bite. Highly recommended! If you don’t like sugar syrups however, there’s so many alternatives you can use to garnish, decorate and give final touches to your cake with.

You can use lemon icing, either on its own or on top of the lemon syrup. For the icing, mix 1 cup (120g) powdered or confectioners sugar with 1 tablespoon each of milk and lemon juice. Stir till combined. If too thick, add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice at a time till it reaches a thick but pourable consistency. Remove cake from pan after cooling and pour over the cake, letting it drizzle down the sides. Do not pour while the cake is still hot, because unlike the syrup, we don’t want it to melt and absorb or slide down the cake completely.

If you’re not a fan of syrups and glaze, you can keep it simply by dusting powdered sugar over the cake. Top it with some fresh berries like rasberries, blueberries, strawberries etc. Put a dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche on the side and you’re good to go.

Let me know how this super-easy, moist and tender, one-bowl lemon, olive oil and yogurt cake turns out for you guys! Post in the comments below or share a picture on instagram or twitter with the hashtag #hungrybyayesha

Lemon, Olive Oil and Yogurt Cake

The best yogurt cake you'll make! Moist, tender and lemony, so light to eat and the perfect balance of tart and sweet.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: cake, easy, french cake, grandmas cake, lemon, lemony, olive oil, one bowl, quick, sugar syrup, summer, tart, yogurt
Servings: 10
Calories: 309kcal

Ingredients

  • ½ cup regular yogurt or greek yogurt (125g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice or ½-¾ large lemon
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest or 1 large lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup olive oil (108g/118ml)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (130g)
  • ½ cup cake flour (can replace with equal part AP flour) (65g)
  • ½ tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

FOR THE LEMON SYRUP

  • ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice or ½ large lemon
  • ¾ cup water (120ml/g)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 360°F (180°C). Grease the bottom of a cake pan and line with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, add the yogurt, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice, as well as the vanilla extract, and mix together using a whisk or hand mixer (on low speed) till everything is combined. Add the olive oil, mix very well by hand or hand mixer (on low speed). The mixture might seem seperated at first, but keep mixing till the oil is fully combined.
  • Sift in the all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt. Mix by hand or hand mixer (on low speed) till everything combines and forms a smooth batter.
  • Pour into cake pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While the cake is baking, prepare the lemon syrup.

LEMON SYRUP

  • In a pan, add the granulated sugar, lemon juice and water. Bring to simmer and let the sugar dissolve completely. Let simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until it has started to thicken. The syrup will continue to thicken slightly once you take it off the heat, so remove from heat once you think it is close to syrup consistency. See blog post above for more information about the right consistency.
  • As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, use a skewer or knife to poke holes all over the cake, making sure your skewer or knife pokes till the bottom of the cake. Pour syrup gently all over the cake while it is still hot and in the pan.
  • Let it sit for 20-30 minutes, till the syrup has absorbed fully and the cake is completely cooled. Remove from cake pan and serve with lemon curd or some creme fraiche.

Notes

  1. Yogurt substitutions: I used regular yogurt, but you can easily substitute with greek yogurt or even buttermilk
  2. This recipe requires lemon zest, which means you need to zest before you juice. Clean lemons very well with water before zesting. 
  3. Olive Oil substitutions: if you don’t have olive oil, you can easily substitute with any vegetable oil or canola oil. You can also use equal parts melted butter, or cream the butter for a more tender crumb. See below for instructions on creaming butter.
  4. Creaming butter: use equal parts butter instead of olive oil, cream together the butter and granulated sugar first. Once the butter looks lighter in color and fluffy, add in the rest of the wet ingredients and continue as per the recipe.
  5. Cake flour: you can easily replace cake flour with all purpose flour. This will yield a slightly more dense crumb, but not a very noticeable difference overall. 
  6. Baking: place pan in the center of the oven, rotate half way if one side of the oven is too hot and cake is browning too fast from one side. Do not open the oven door otherwise. Make sure the temperature does not exceed 360F/180C.
  7. Lemon sugar syrup consistency: to know when the sugar syrup is thickened enough, run a spatula across the pan. If the liquid takes 1-2 seconds to merge back together, it is ready. When fully cooled, it should be the consistency of olive oil. It is okay if it is slightly thinner, however, if it is too thick, add some water and continue heating till it reaches the right consistency otherwise it will not absorb very well into the cake. Taste the syrup for lemon flavor, if you prefer it to be more tart, add more lemon juice. 
  8. Storage: place leftover cake in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap and keep in fridge for 3-4 days.
Ayesha Bilal
Ayesha Bilal

A 25 year expat, living currently in Turkey, and living my happiest life exploring the world, bit by bit, with my favorite travel buddy, and my partner, Argun. Follow my travel across England on FellowPrimo, and check out delicious recipes and the best spots to grab a bite around the world.

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