Lemon Basil Cake

Back in medical school, I had a lovely little herb garden on my patio, and one summer had a flourishing basil plant. I've never had that kind of luck with basil again, but that summer, we added basil to everything.

I found this intriguing recipe for a basil cake on one of my favorite Chinese food blogs, and I immediately made it for dessert. Andrew went nuts for it. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised since lemon and basil are two of his favorite flavors, and this cake combines them in a light, bouncy, tangy package. We recently made this again and enjoyed it just as much.

Lemon Basil Cake
(Recipe from the Woks of Life)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup yogurt (we used whole-milk)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch round pan. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar has the texture of damp sand. 
  4. Add the yogurt and lemon juice to the sugar and mix well. 
  5. Add the oil, eggs, vanilla, and basil. Whisk until well-blended. 
  6. Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix. 
  7. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes for a 9-inch pan or 35-40 minutes for an 8-inch pan, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool. 
  8. Prepare the glaze by mixing together to the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and milk until smooth. When cake is cool, drizzle the glaze over the top. Serve.

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