It’s always such a happy surprise to bite into a vegan dessert that actually tastes as wonderful as it looks, and here’s a cake that fits that description. It comes from Vinesh Johny and Andrés Lara’s excellent new book, New-School Sweets (Page Street Publishing, 2021), and it’s a winner. According to the authors (who are both pastry chefs), “When we’re in India we always end up working out together at the gym, and right outside there’s this tiny stall that serves up the absolute best nimboo paani (Indian lemonade). We can think of nothing better when you’re hot and tired than sipping on such a delightfully chill and tangy beverage. This elegant cake was dreamt up to recreate that refreshing feeling: it’s simple to make but beautiful to behold and bursting with citrus flavors.”
Yield: two 8 x 2-inch loaf cakes or one 8 x 4-inch loaf cake
Baking pan: two 8 x 2 x 2-inch (20 1/ 3 x 5 x 5-cm) loaf pans (available here) or one 8 x 4-inch (20 1/3 x 10 cm) loaf pan
Lemon Yogurt Cake:
- Coconut oil, for greasing pans
- 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) silken tofu
- 1 cup plus 2 1⁄2 teaspoon (210 grams) granulated sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons
- Zest of 1 orange
- 3⁄4 cup (190 grams) soy vanilla yogurt
- 3⁄4 cup (160 grams) grapeseed oil
- 1 2⁄3 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon (16 grams) baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon guar gum (available here)
- 1⁄4 cup (60 grams) lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (15 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 1⁄2 tablespoons (15 grams) trehalose (available here)
- 6 tablespoons (90 grams) water
- 3 tablespoons (15 grams) grated ginger
- 1⁄4 cup (45 grams) Ginger Infusion (from above)
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) lemon juice
- 2 1⁄4 cups (270 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Edible flowers, for garnish
Edible gold leaf, for garnish
Make the Lemon Yogurt Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Grease the pans with coconut oil.
- In a food processor, add the silken tofu, granulated sugar and zest of both lemons and orange. Blend for about 30 seconds to make sure the mixture is nice and fine. Add the soy vanilla yogurt and start to blend, slowly pouring in the grapeseed oil while mixing. Once the mixture is smooth as silk, use a spatula to fold in the sifted all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and guar gum, making sure there aren’t any lumps.
- Portion the batter equally between the pans (unless you are only using one) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes for the small pans, and 50 to 60 minutes for the large pan. Use a cake tester to check if the baking is done, or use a probe thermometer to know when the center of the cakes reach 203°F (95°C). After baking, carefully flip them out of the pans onto a wire rack to cool, ready for soaking and glazing.
Make the Soaking Syrup:
- In a saucepan, add the lemon juice, granulated sugar and trehalose and heat until the mixture turns warm. Use a brush to apply a nice layer of syrup to all surfaces of each cake, getting them moist and leaving them to cool to room temperature.
Make the Ginger Infusion:
- Bring the water to a boil, add in the grated ginger, and let it sit over medium heat for 1 minute. Cover it with a lid and let it cool before straining out this potent ginger infusion. Of course, the longer the ginger steeps, the more intense it will be, so the duration depends on how much you love ginger!
Make the Glaze:
- In a bowl, mix the measured ginger infusion, lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar to get a nice, smooth glaze. You can adjust the thickness of the glaze by adding more or less lemon juice than we’ve recommended.
Glaze the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put a plate below the cakes’ cooling rack to catch extra glaze, and then pour the glaze evenly over the cakes. Transfer the glazed cakes onto the prepared baking sheet. Turn off the oven and put the cakes in for just 2 minutes for the glaze to set. A good way to check if the glaze is just right is to touch it with a finger. If it doesn’t leave much residue on your finger, the glaze is set. Finish off by garnishing the cakes with some vibrant edible flowers and gold-leaf for a stunning natural look.
These zesty lemon yogurt cakes can be served chilled or at room temperature. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Reprinted with permission from New-School Sweets by Vinesh Johny and Andrés Lara, Page Street Publishing Co. 2021. Photo credit: Manek D’Silva