My boys love that Starbucks lemon loaf cake, so I was on a mission to create a healthier version I could make at home. This is still a dessert recipe, but definitely a lot lower in sugar than the original. I added in some whole wheat flour for some extra fiber and sweetened the loaf with honey. A little yogurt keeps the cake super moist and tender. Plus, it’s super easy to make–no mixer needed! This would be the perfect dessert for a brunch or just as an afternoon treat. Happy to say that my lemon loaf lovers gave this healthier cake two thumbs up!
Kids in the Kitchen: Healthier Lemon Loaf Cake
- Gather all the ingredients before you invite your little one to bake with you. It will get things off to a smooth start. If you are baking with a very young child or if you would like to keep the mess down to a minimum, consider pre-measuring the dry goods like flours.
- Zest and juice: this recipe is all about lemons so make sure to show your little baker how to zest and juice. Hold the lemon and microplane zester together. Show her how to get only the yellow part of the lemon skin and not any of the bitter white pith. Juice the lemons together then measure the juice for the recipe.
- Make sure to crack the egg into a separate bowl in case any shells get in there. If the child isn’t cracking the eggs, he/she can help dump the eggs from the small bowl into the larger bowl.
- Dump! Teach kids to add ingredients to the center of the bowl to avoid spilling.
- Mix! Have a little one that wants to do everything herself? Ask if you can take turns mixing. Kids usually understand that concept well and that way the child can have some independence and you can get things well mixed.
Subs and Tips for making Lemon Loaf:
- Gluten-free: Instead of wheat flour, use a cup-for-cup style gluten-free flour blend.
- Egg-free: I haven’t tested it, but I’m pretty sure a flax “egg” or other egg substitute would work well in place of the one egg in the recipe.
- Dairy-Free: This recipe has yogurt and milk. To make it dairy-free, use a plain, unsweetened dairy-free yogurt such as a coconut or soy yogurt. You can use any kind of dairy-free milk that’s unflavored and unsweetened.
- Refined sugar-free: the cake is sweetened with only honey, but the glaze is made from powdered sugar. If you want a less-sweet cake, you can leave the glaze off or just dust it lightly with powdered sugar before serving.
- Helpful Tools: my favorite zester and citrus juicer are on my Amazon “kitchen essentials” list. Find those by clicking HERE (affiliate link).
- Make ahead? This cake is great to make ahead of time if you are serving it for a party or get together. Bake it one or two days in advance, let it cool completely, then cover it very well with foil and store at room temperature. Glaze the day of serving.
Healthier Lemon Loaf Cake
- 9-by-5-inch loaf pan
- 1 cup white whole wheat or whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour or more whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp fine salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup avocado or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup but the loaf will be darker in color
- 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt I use full-fat but any kind will work
- 1/4 cup milk (any kind)
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest from about 3 lemons
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 to 2 Tbsp lemon juice or use half milk for a less sour glaze
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. I like to place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom and up the sides like a "sling" so the loaf is easy to remove.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the remaining ingredeints together until combined. (Tip: measure the oil in a 1/4 cup measuring cup then measure the honey in there twice. It will come out really easily.)
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined and no dry flour remains. It's ok if there are some lumps in the batter. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to even out the top.
- Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.
- Add powdered sugar to a small bowl. Stir in the lemon juice (or milk) a little at a time until you get a thick but pourable glaze.
- Spread the glaze evenly over the top of the cooled loaf. Allow to sit for 15 minutes for the glaze to harden then cut into slices.
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