Back when I was in my late teens and early 20’s, yogurt was NOT the big money product it is now. It was just eaten by the earth mother types and hippies and people tended to look at you like you were crazy to be eating this runny soured stuff. I, of course, though neither an earth mother nor a hippie (a fact that I always mourned. Had I been born about 10 years earlier, I would totally have been a stupid teen at Woodstock or living near Haight Ashbury), loved yogurt. Not plain; I thought it was nasty. But give me a cherry Yoplait and I was in heaven. I recall my older sister warning my then husband to watch out for me or I’d exist solely on yogurt and granola bars. Yeah, my pattern of poor eating choices goes WAY back.
Now however, you can get so many different styles and/or flavors of yogurt that it boggles the mind. We always have at least a full shelf of yogurt here at our house and besides eating it as is (still no plain though; ick!), I love to use it in cooking. Regular style yogurt, Greek, plain, flavored, you name it, I’ll find a way to incorporate it into baking. Well, this time, I took a recipe I had had forever for a yogurt cake and messed with it. Because…me. This originally came from what used to be recipezaar and was a fair bit different. It had a syrup that was poured on it, which made me think of Baklava, one of my favorite desserts. So I flavored the syrup to taste more like the one that gets poured over baklava and added more spice to the cake itself, as well as using a lemon yogurt in it to give another added layer of flavor.
This is a wonderfully moist cake. The syrups soaks in, flavoring it all and the cake itself has a wonderful taste, spiced and a bit lemony with a background hint of almond and vanilla. I served this with a simple vanilla yogurt I flavored. This isn’t the worlds prettiest cake, but it’s completely delicious. This is great for family, for a church potluck or a picnic, a family reunion. It would also be fantastic late at night with a glass of dry red wine. Is this exactly like Baklava? Of course not. There’s no phyllo, not a ton of chopped nuts, etc. But it reminds me of it, thus the name.
You know the drill… 🙂
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (2 sticks)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 eggs, separated
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon oil (you can sub lemon extract, but you know how I feel about that stuff. Just break down and buy some lemon oil)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1/4 cup brandy or whiskey
- 1 cup lemon Greek yogurt
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup sliced toasted almonds, divided
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/3 cup honey
- zest from two lemons, in strips
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Yogurt topping-
- 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon sugar (it’s a bit too tart without it)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter or oil a 13×9 inch baking pan.Then start your syrup so that it has time to cool- Simply combine all the syrup ingredients in a medium pot, stir to dissolve the sugar somewhat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and let it gently boil for about 15 minutes. it will reduce some and thicken up, though it’s not very thick even then. When that’s done, set it off the heat to cool.
- For the cake- in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the egg yolks, the extracts and the brandy. Beat on low speed until well combined.
- In a clean (preferably glass) bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set to the side for now.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices. Add it to the butter mixture, alternating with the yogurt (flour, yogurt, flour, yogurt, flour), beating well after each addition.
- Gently fold in the egg whites and half the toasted almonds, then spread the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake at 350 for 45 to 60 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- When done, immediately (and carefully) pour the cooled syrup over the cake, letting it soak in as you pour. If you don’t want to use it all, it stores in the fridge well and is wonderful used in a cup of tea. Once the syrup has been poured on, sprinkle the top of the cake with the rest of the almonds.
- Let it cool completely and serve with a dollop of the yogurt topping, which you make by simply combining the topping ingredients in a small bowl; easy peasy.
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