Last week was my Spring Break, and the weather could not have timed itself more perfectly. With temperatures in the 70s and 80s from Wednesday all the way through Easter weekend, I had summery treats on my mind. I was assigned a dessert for our families Easter dinner, and I wanted to throw something together for Stu’s family for their dinner as well.

I turned to lemons, because I had a bunch of them on hand. (Insert the age old “When Life Hands You Lemons…” here.) I also turned to the Barefoot Contessa, because I can’t get enough of cookbook. I chose first a simple recipe from The Barefoot Contessa At Home.

Lemon Yogurt Cake
from Ina Garten

1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 and 1/3 cups of sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons of lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8 and 1/2 x 4 and 1/2 x 2 and 1/2 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, and the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture of the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice and pour over the cake.

I did not eat the cake myself, but did receive some rave reviews from Stu’s whole family. It also got a few comparisons to the lemon cake you can sometimes get at Starbucks, though I’ve never had that either, so I really have no idea. I will say that this was really easy to make, aside from grating the lemon zest, and that it’s quite different, with the addition of the yogurt and oil instead of butter. Much lighter, I’m sure. I’m planning on buying some lemons in bulk this weekend, and probably making a loaf for myself.

For Easter dinner, I felt that Lemon Bars were appropriate. They are lighter and sweeter, but still give you that fresh warm-weather feeling. I looked up a few different recipes, but for one reason or another, ended up with another Ina Garten recipe from the Food Network.

You can find the link for the lemon bars here.

Lemon Bars

I think I may have made them a bit too big, but they were sooo delicious. Oddly enough, these were also compared to Starbucks quality. Not sure how those taste either, but I’ll take the compliment. They were just the right amount of sweet, tart, and thick and creamy. These will have to make a comeback this summer, as they didn’t really travel well on the trip back from Connecticut to Philly.  Still eating up the sticky crumbs though. Yum!