January 21, 2010

A Lemony Pick-Me-Up

Citrus fruits in winter just really do it for me.  I know, not the most profound or new concept, but there’s something about a lemon tart or a zesty vinaigrette that really lifts me right out of the doldrums of January.  So it was that on a regular (although stress-filled) Tuesday, I came home and baked myself a lemon loaf.  It was courtesy of Ina, of course.  Her lemon-yogurt loaf is one of my favorite simple breads.  I don’t even remember what we made for dinner that night – we’ve been eating a lot of leftovers – but the resulting bread was lemony and tangy with a delicate crust.  The smell lifted me right out of the funk I was in.  I don’t know about you, but there’s something wonderfully therapeutic about baking a simple bread or cake after a stressful day at work.  It’s comforting to know that even in my tiny toaster oven, in my tiny non-kitchen, I can still manage to make a gorgeous lemon loaf with a perfect crack right down the center.

In this recipe, I substituted ½ cup of vegetable oil with a ½ cup of melted butter.  I don’t keep vegetable oil in my “pantry” because I generally try to avoid using it in baking, and I found that at least with this recipe, the butter didn’t change a thing.  Except maybe the calorie count.

Lemon Yogurt Loaf (Slightly adapted from The Barefoot Contessa at Home)

1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 c. plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ c. melted butter (a little less than a stick)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 ½  by 4 ¼ by 2 ½ -inch loaf pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the melted butter into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 55 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

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