Lemon Basil Yogurt Cake

November 3, 2022

Extremely rarely do you find a new recipe that fully and utterly makes your day. This is it, my friends; today is the day.

Okay, I’ll admit that at first glance, those random green particles in this cake do make it appear like jalapeno cornbread or something. Seeing what appears to be dried parsley floating in your cake mix can cause some mental dissonance.

You’ll get used to it though because this cake is nothing short of wonderful. The pairing of lemon and basil is not an original one. It’s a fact attested to by an unlimited number of pasta dishes and luxury soaps.

No, but in a sweet treat? Oh, man.

Our large basil plant, which is blooming in our warm, sun-bathed, south-facing apartment, is the inspiration for this Lemon Basil Yogurt Cake. The change from Winter to Spring in Beijing is not gentle or pleasant.

The temperature can swing from below freezing to far above 80 degrees in a few weeks. However, until the state gives the go-ahead, the city’s air conditioners must remain off. Unfortunately, until then, all we can do is sit here and melt.


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of finely chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons


  • ½ cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of milk


  1. Put in a preheated (to 350 degrees Fahrenheit) oven. Prepare a regular loaf pan or a circular pan measuring 8 inches in diameter by greasing and flouring it.
  2. To make the flour mixture, combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, work the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar resembles moist sand. Blend in the lemon juice and yogurt. Then include the basil and vanilla bean paste along with the vegetable oil. Stir or whisk until smooth.
  4. Fold the dry ingredients in gently until incorporated. Put into the dish you’ve just set up. Baking time can vary depending on the pan you choose but should be between 40 and 50 minutes.
  5. Mix the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and milk together to make the glaze. Stir.
  6. Apply the glaze upon the cake’s cooling by drizzling it over the top.
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