Lemon Yogurt Cake!

We had some cousins visiting us from KSA and USA and I wanted to do something special for them. As I was going through the endless links of pins I had saved on Pinterest I came across a recipe by Donna Hay. I saw her featured on Masterchef Australia a while back and since then I’ve been a fan. She has that quality of keeping things simple which is what I like about Nigella Lawson as well. They cook like us, in real kitchens, with regular ingredients, for family and friends. Of course they have the skills to make things super fancy as well, as they are brilliant chefs. But my true regard and respect for them stems from the simple fact that if they can do it so can I.

Although Donna Hay has a lot of chocolate recipes to her credit I wanted to do something other than chocolate for two reasons; I knew my sister would have made her famous brownies for them already and everyone (read Mr. Mazhar) doesn’t always like chocolate. I know, I know, a person’s preference for chocolate should be discussed prior to accepting a marriage proposal! I’ve learnt my lesson and so I share it with you. Better luck to you 😉

I’ve adapted a little bit of the original recipe only because of our taste preference. It’s nothing major, just that where the original calls for finely sliced lemon rind, I replaced it with finely grated lemon zest. Quite a while back when I had been following a cookery show by chef Rachel Allen, also one of my favourites, I tried her lemon yogurt cake recipe and at that time I had followed the recipe to a T and used lemon rind. We, myself included, found the taste of the rind to be bitter and the texture unwelcome in every bite. It may have to do with the type of lemons we get here in the UAE, imported from Jordan and in some cases South Africa. So this time around I used lemon zest and I have to say it suited our palate more. The aroma that filled up my home as the cake  baked and when we cut into it after dinner for so refreshing and light, very appetising indeed. 

I consider this recipe a success in my book from the simple fact that when I brought out the dessert and said its name most of the guests were sceptical and took very thin slices of the cake but by the time I got round the table everyone wanted seconds of thicker and bigger slices. Oh and of course, Mazhar approved which is always a win. After all, I am doing all of this for him ❤️. So I will defiantly be making this recipe again and again. Be sure to share with me your experience of trying out this recipe. Happy baking everyone!!


  • 180ml vegetable oil 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 large lemon’s finely grated zest 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 280g thick natural yoghurt (I strained it in a sieve over a bowl for about 30 minutes)
  • 385g caster (superfine) sugar 
  • 300g all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder

Lemon frosting:

  • 120g granulated sugar 
  • 60ml lemon juice


  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and butter and flour your baking tin of choice. The original recipe called for a 24cm fluted ring tin but I used a 2lb loaf tin. I had a little extra batter left over which I filled into a cupcake mould, as a test piece for the chef.
  2. Place the oil, eggs, zest, lemon juice, yoghurt and sugar in a bowl and whisk with an electric whisk on low speed (1-2), to combine all the ingredients. The oil is the one ingredient that will sort of hang around the edges of your bowl separately from the rest of the batter but just have a little patience and everything will combine smoothly. 
  3. In a separate bowl sift in the flour and baking powder, mix them well with a spoon so that the baking powder is evenly distributed. Now sift over the flour mix in with the liquid batter and stir until smooth. 
  4. Pour the mixture into the cake tin, leaving room at the top for the cake to rise and bake for 45 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. One word of caution, since my cake mix was in a loaf tin and therefore dense in the middle it took almost an hour for the skewer to come out clean in the center. The original recipe using the fluted tin states the baking time as 35 minutes because I believe the center of the cake is not as dense. So be mindful of the baking tin you are using and the appropriate baking time.
  5. While the cake is still hot remove from the tin. Shake it gently to loosen and overturn it onto a plate. 
  6. To make the lemon frosting, gently stir together the sugar and lemon juice. One slight change here as well, the original recipe suggests that you spoon the frosting over the cake and allow it to set. I found the frosting taste to be a little too tart and cloying so I served it in a bowl on the side for my guests to help themselves with as much or as little as they liked. Serve and watch it vanish like magic! Enjoy!!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hiba says:

    Yess I should not have started with the sliver. In my defence, I ended up eating the leftover for breakfast the next day with coffee and it was even better. Can’t wait to try it out this week. We have to send some thank you cards and these might be included if any gets saved. Thanks for the recipe

    1. Nida Sami says:

      I’m so glad you liked it!! Hope to share more recipes with you here!! Keep reading and trying. Your appreciation and support is what keeps me going.

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