A Polymath’s Lemon Rosemary Yogurt Pound Cake

Let me tell you a tale of places and people before us. Once upon a time people were experts but not specialists in fields that knew few boundaries. The Renaissance Man or Woman, the Jack of all Trades, a polymath. In this world an individual could be considered an expert, learned even though they covered a variety of topics.

In this long ago world this was who I wanted to be. The modern world said this was no longer possible because each topic has become so complex an individual could not be an expert in the field unless they devoted their life to it. The world said I was unsettled and needed to choose a single path. A stubborn individual, I sought one that would allow me to dabble in everything, but I would settle for as much as possible. Writing, I thought, is what is for me.

Alas, this long ago world is only a tale. We move now to what is. The Sara Lee company has not been doing too well. I first heard about this listening to NPR on my way home from work. Recently, the unnamed company that employs me has been thinking and focusing. Focusing sounds a lot like specializing. They’re not quite synonyms, but they are connected by concentrating.  The news report’s reasons for this downfall included Sara Lee failing to transform…adapt to changing markets and secondly of diversifying too much. The frozen pound cake took on coffee and sausage and cotton underwear and more.

Here we are now. Where I’d been wanting pound cake ever since this report. Every day at work has me thinking about the world pegging itself into a smaller more specialized, conveyor belt style world and wondering when I’m going to be forced into one. And I’m talking with a couple friends and one says “I was told recently that there is no such genre as Rock n’ Roll anymore.” Bands, apparently, now belong to specific sub-genres within what once was Rock n’ Roll.

That’s ridiculous. It’s exactly what I’m talking about. I impulsively exclaimed to myself. Does that mean that the band can only play one type of music? If a second album is released with a new approach is it really an entirely new genre? 

Isn’t there some saying about variety?

Many times I admire the friends and family who have wanted, worked towards and achieved a single path. Individuals who have sought a specific specialization. But, I’ve never wanted just pound cake.

It’s possible that you might be thinking this isn’t really pound cake. It’s not a pound recipe. There is no butter. It even has yogurt in it. Is it sweet? Is it savory? What’s with that? Perhaps you would be right. So perhaps, what it is, is loaf cake. Perhaps pound cake is the specialized version of loaf cake and what I have done is returned to the roots by expanding the field. I have said, sure I want pound cake, but I want to look at all the world around me and make that.

If I hadn’t you, my co-workers and I would never have experienced the deliciousness of this.

Lemon Rosemary Yogurt Pound Cake
adapted from recipe found on Food Network by Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa

1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1 small sprig, about 3 inches, rosemary whole
1 cup plain yogurt
1 ⅓ scant cups sugar
2 eggs
zest from two lemons
⅓ cup lemon juice
½ cup vegetable oil

Grease and bottom line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Heat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl mix together the flour baking powder, salt and chopped rosemary. In a smaller bowl whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs and lemon zest. Mix the yogurt into the flour mixture. Gently stir in the vegetable oil.

Pour into loaf pan and bake until beautifully browned, about 50 minutes.

In a small saucepan combine the lemon juice, ⅓ cup sugar and small rosemary sprig. Heat over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Cool in pan for around 10 minutes. Then remove to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the loaf. Let cool the rest of the way.

After pouring in the vegetable oil I started to wish I’d used olive oil or a fancy nut oil instead. All the same, this was so delectably good I’m not sure I would experiment when making it again. This is one of those recipes where I wish the internet had taste. The playing of the lemon, rosemary and sugary cakeness create a…lightness and breathy tartness that you absolutely have to try.

7 thoughts on “A Polymath’s Lemon Rosemary Yogurt Pound Cake

  1. Hi- I found your blog yesterday after doing a search for “lemon rosemary yogurt cake”. I tried this recipe this morning and really love it. The only thing I tweaked was using olive oil. Also, mine was done baking in only 40 minutes.

    I have a rosemary plant in my garden. I am sure I’ll be making this cake all summer.


    PS how did you get that lovely split down the center of your cake? Mine did not do that. :((


    • I’m so glad you liked it.

      I wish I could give tips on achieving the split down the middle, but I don’t do anything special. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. Tasting good is really the most important part anyway.


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