Birthdays call for grand gestures in the dessert department. And yes, there should always be dessert. And I know we're all on a different path to wellness here, which might involve going gluten-free or sugar-free or what have you, but birthdays are the exception to all rules, as far as I'm concerned. Or, if you can make a gluten-free, sugar-free cake that tastes amazing, have at it. But I'm going to need a bit of convincing.
Or, you could always make this version of a yogurt pound cake with bright, sunny Meyer lemons and fresh, spicy ginger glaze. Oh, yes. I figured, I've done variations of this this cake with grapefruits (and you had your doubts, didn't you?) and oranges, and yes, even your run-of-the-mill lemons with a blueberry twist. All of which were, well, amazing. But when someone as awesome as my grandmother has a birthday (Hi, Gram!), you go all out. You go citrus-crazy, which is pretty much the only way to describe the heavenly-orangey-sweet-tartness that is the Meyer lemon.
For the cake portion of the recipe, you'll need:
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of plain yogurt (I used nonfat and you'd never know it. Except for, you know, now, because I told you)
1 cup plus one tablespoon of sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest (should take about 4, if they're on the smallish side, which they usually are)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
For the glaze, you'll need:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan (9"x5") and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, sift together your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and salt). In a larger bowl, add 1 cup of your sugar and your fresh zest. Scrunch it together using just your fingertips. If it sounds crazy (yes, it does), just wait until that lovely lemon smell starts wafting towards your face. Your just doing your part to help release a little more of that lemon flavor.
Once your sugar has been properly scrunched (don't overdo it now), whisk in your vanilla, eggs and yogurt evenly combined. Add your dry ingredients to the mix in stages, stirring until combined with each addition. Finally, add your olive oil to the batter and fold in using a rubber spatula. (I know, I know, it seems crazy and like it will take forever, but just keep folding, it'll happen.)
Pour your batter into your prepared cake pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Innn the meantime, add your remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and your 1/2 cup of lemon juice to a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until the sugar is just dissolved, stirring constantly to avoid burning. This will happen relatively quickly for such a small amount of liquid, so don't wander off.
When the cake has been out of oven for about ten minutes, flip onto a wire rack. Using a toothpick, poke several holes in the surface of the cake. Slowly pour your lemon juice-sugar mixture over the top of the cake (being sure to add a baking tray beneath to catch the overrun!) and let it soak up some more of that lemon goodness. Once you've evenly distributed the syrup, allow the cake to cool completely.
In the meantime again, you can pass some cooling time to make the glaze. In a small bowl, add your powdered sugar (sifting will help get rid of any big lumps), ginger and lemon juice. Stir together until smooth. At this point, it's totally up to you to decide if that last tablespoon of milk is necessary. For me, the texture wasn't quite right (and I was out of lemons...), so a little more liquid helped get the consistency a bit more glaze-y. But I trust you. The cake trusts you, too.
When the cake is completely cooled (ahhhh), carefully pour the glaze over the top and let it run down the sides. Hopefully you've still got the tray under there to catch any drips. All that's left now is to insert candles, sing, celebrate and eat! Happy Birthday, Gram - you love lemon and we love you!