Delicious lemon yogurt cake with chia seeds! This baked good has healthy swaps that pack nutritional benefits into each bite.
Table of Contents
I came up with a baked good that celebrates citrus flavors. This lemon yogurt cake recipe is the perfect slice to enjoy in the morning, although it can be eaten anytime. I want to give you the balance of a healthier baked treat with a hint of indulgence.
The base of the loaf cake is a mixture of white whole wheat flour, olive oil substituted for butter, and chia seeds for added fiber instead of typical poppy seeds. These wholesome ingredients don’t leave out the sweet and tangy flavor that you crave in a delicious lemon cake.
“I was looking for a cake that I could get away with serving for breakfast during this lazy summer. I loved it! It’s not too sweet, and it’s got some whole wheat, chia, and yogurt to tone down the guilt.”—Christina
- Lemons: Freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest add a distinctive tangy flavor to the cake and glaze. They naturally brighten and enhance the sweetness in other foods, even though they taste tart. If Meyer lemons are in season, I recommend using those for their herbaceous and floral citrus notes.
- Yogurt: I use nonfat Greek yogurt, which is packed with protein.
- Chia Seeds: Adds fiber and a delightful crunch in the crumb. The gel formed as it swells binds moisture, keeping the cake soft.
- Flour: White whole wheat flour has a similar nutrient profile to whole wheat flour. However, the flavor is more neutral and yields a lighter-colored crumb.
- Oil: Light olive oil is used for a delicate fruity flavor and is a healthier alternative to butter or vegetable oil.
- Leavening Agent: Baking soda is used to help the cake batter rise when baked. Eggs also help with the lift and structure of quick bread.
- Seasoning: Salt and vanilla extract enhances the taste and aroma of the cake.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar balances the tartness of the lemons. Powdered sugar is used to make a smooth lemon glaze.
See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).
Prepare the cake batter
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177ºC) right at the beginning. The baking soda will lose its gas production the longer it sits before it bakes. That’s why you want the oven ready to go!
Step 2: To fully incorporate the ingredients together, start by mixing the yogurt, chia seeds, some lemon juice, and zest in a bowl. This will be added to the batter during the whisking process.
Step 3: Mix the dry ingredients separately to ensure the flour, baking soda, and salt become evenly dispersed. The particles are small, so a brief whisking distributes them together.
Step 4: Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand mixer. Mix the olive oil and granulated sugar on high speed to incorporate more air into the batter, similar to creaming butter and sugar together. The result is a light and tender cake. Stir in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time to help the batter gradually emulsify.
Step 5: Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in the mixer in three additions. Alternate adding two additions of the yogurt mixture in between. Do not overmix! Hydrate the flour so that the cake stays tender.
Bake the cake
Step 6: Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan; I like to use olive oil since it’s already in the batter. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth out the surface. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. Using an instant-read thermometer, you can quickly check to see if the center is done. The internal temperature should reach 205 to 210°F (96 to 99ºC).
Step 7: Let the cake cool and set in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to allow it to finish cooling to room temperature. If you want to keep sweeteners to a minimum, you can skip the lemon glaze. You’ll have a gorgeous golden brown cake with a nice shiny top.
Make the glaze
Step 8: The lemon glaze combines powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Just whisk together until smooth. The consistency should be like school glue. You may need to adjust it with more powdered sugar to thicken it up or lemon juice for a thinner consistency.
Add the glaze
Step 9: Now you’re to generously drizzle that glaze all over the top of the yogurt cake. Sprinkle a little bit of zest on top, too. It’s that little extra lemon love. I know you won’t be disappointed. Make this recipe for a special weekend breakfast or as a gift.
- Citrus: Different types of lemons can be used. Regular lemons from stores like Lisbon or Eureka will be more tart and tangy. Meyer lemons will have a milder tartness and a mandarin-like taste. This cake would work well with oranges too.
- Yogurt: Thicker Greek yogurt can be substituted with other types of yogurt. Plain yogurt works well, or add a flavored regular yogurt that complements the lemon flavor. Sour cream is a suitable swap that will add richness to the cake.
- Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil will add a stronger taste and rustic flavor. Avocado oil or melted coconut oil works well as a replacement.
- Flour: All-purpose flour, white wheat flour, or a half-and-half combination can be used. All-purpose flour gives the most soft texture but won’t be as hearty.
- Sweetener: Other types of sugar, like brown sugar, turbinado, or coconut sugar, can be used. They will add a unique flavor to the cake.
Frequently asked questions
White whole wheat is a lighter-colored variety of hard white spring wheat. The flavor is milder, also yielding a more tender cake. Whole wheat is hard red spring-winter wheat, resulting in a darker flour and more nutty flavor. They are equivalent in nutritional profile. They are both made of 100% whole wheat.
No! White whole wheat is a whole grain milled from a hard white winter winter wheat. All-purpose flour has the bran and germ removed. This yields a softer baked good but less nutrition.
Wrap the loaf or individual slices in plastic wrap. Store in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 1 month. Defrost and reheat if desired.
The benefit of adding chia seeds
Small but mighty, chia seeds are nutrient-dense and promote long-lasting energy. It’s a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, easily digestible protein, calcium, iron, and fiber. One tablespoon supplies about 5 grams of fiber. Chia seeds are used in this recipe for the little bits of crunch, similar to poppy seeds, but with added nutritional benefits.
Lemon Yogurt Cake with Chia Seeds
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
- 4 teaspoons lemon zest, divided
- 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup olive oil, extra-light
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Heat the Oven – Preheat the oven to 350°F (177ºC). Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil.
- Mix the Yogurt Mixture – In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, chia seeds, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon zest. Set aside.
- Mix Dry Ingredients – In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix the Egg Mixture – Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand mixer on high speed, whisk the olive oil and granulated sugar until combined, about 4 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Make the Batter – Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of the chia yogurt mixture.
- Bake – Pour batter evenly into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick comes out clean and the top has set, about 40 to 45 minutes. The internal temperature should reach between 205 to 210°F (96 to 99ºC).If the top begins to brown rapidly towards the final minutes of baking (around 35 minutes), tent the cake loosely with foil, but without touching the surface.
- Cool – Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the Glaze – In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon lemon zest. If needed, adjust with more lemon juice or powdered sugar until a glue-like consistency is reached.
- Add the Glaze – Drizzle the glaze over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon lemon zest. Let it set before slicing and serving.
- Using All-purpose and Whole Wheat Flour: I found that ¾ cup white whole wheat flour, plus ¾ cup all-purpose flour, gave a more tender cake. Make this substitution if you’re okay with not having all the whole wheat flour in the recipe.
- Substituting the White Whole Wheat Flour: It can be replaced with all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or a half-and-half mix.
- Using Poppyseeds: Add 1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons in addition to the chia seeds. Alternatively, the poppy seeds can be substituted completely for chia seeds.
- Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
Tried this recipe?
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