Want a bright start to each day? Bake this easy yogurt lemon loaf

A yogurt lemon loaf tastes like sunshine.
(Caroline Marks / For The Times )

With so many of you having to stay home and cook for the first time — ever or more than you have in a long time — we get that it can be overwhelming to have to cook all your meals from scratch. So we’re here to get you started.

Each day we’re going to post a new skill here and go in detail about how to do it — a resource for cooking basics so you can get food on the table and get through this.

A series of simple tutorials for making some basic recipes at home.

Lesson 43: Orange Blossom Yogurt Lemon Loaf


What makes this lemon loaf stand out is the addition of orange blossom water. Distilled from orange flowers, it encapsulates the heady scent of blooming citrus trees. It’s that perfumed air you catch on some sunny Southern California mornings, that happy smell that transports you to bucolic groves and wide open spaces. Here, the water is baked into the batter and soaked into the cake, and for extra credit you can reinforce it with an optional glossy citrus glaze.

Iced lemon loaf.
(Genevieve Ko/Los Angeles Times)

To make the most of lemons, I blend the zest, which contains essential oils that hold the floral aroma of the fruit, with the sugar. I don’t love biting into wispy strands of zest in a finished cake, so I grind the zest into the sugar in a food processor, then use the machine to quickly mix the rest of the batter. (If you don’t have a food processor or don’t want to wash yours, you can rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips and mix the batter by hand.)

All of the tangy juice from the fruit gets used too. A splash is mixed into the batter, its tartness echoed by yogurt, and the rest simmers into simple syrup for soaking the baked cake. I like to brush it only on the bottom and sides to preserve the caramelized crispness of the top crust. The juice delivers a sunshine brightness, making this loaf as great for breakfast as it is for dessert.

Orange Blossom Yogurt Lemon Loaf

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Makes one 8 ½-by-4 ½-inch loaf