A lifelong lover of lemons, I baked a lemon sheet pan cake with sorghum or jowar (hindi). It was a happy surprise with its light, flaky crumb. And so here I am, sharing it with you. With the summer heat steadily rising, I crave tart, lemony flavours and skinny sweets. This lemon sheet pan cake fits the bill perfectly.
Why you should bake with sorghum
Sorghum or jowar as it is known in Hindi, has been consumed in India since ancient times. Much before wheat replaced it as the staple in North India, jowar was the grain of choice. It has a high protein and fibre content (almost 12 per cent and 9 per cent respectively) and is a hardy crop that can easily be grown in semi arid areas. Sorghum flour has the qualities of a flour suited to baking. I’ll tell you why:
Sorghum flour looks and feels like regular flour and has a mild nutty taste; so it can take on any flavour easily.
It is a gluten-free grain but its fibre can help build structure, especially in cakes, bread and cookies. It can be completely substituted in 1:1 ratio in place of all-purpose flour but needs binders like starchy flours and xanthum gum. In my lemon sheet pan cake, I’ve substituted a little more than 40 percent of the total flour for sorghum.
It adds nutrition to your baked goods. Besides protein and fibre, sorghum is rich in antioxidants, calcium, niacin, magnesium. Iron, zinc and potassium.
Olive oil and Greek yoghurt make a healthier cake
Whenever possible, I try to make my recipes healthier by substituting some of the white flours, saturated fats and sugars with lighter, more nutritious, less fattening ingredients. So my recipe for lemon sheet pan cake has olive oil and Greek yoghurt instead of butter and sour cream. Both oil and yoghurt add much-needed fat and moisture to the cake. Along with 3 eggs they help build a delicate, moist and light crumb. The eggs also act as glue in holding the cake together and make the cake airy which gums cannot do.
Load up on the lemon
This cake is intensely lemony with generous amounts of lemon zest and juice. I wanted the bright, citrusy flavours to stand out and so the cake gets a drizzle of lemon syrup while it is still warm. Syrup means sugar, so I made the cake mildly sweet to prevent it from becoming cloying after it got the syrup drizzle.
Striving to create better bakes with whole grains is a big part of my endeavours in the kitchen. Some recipes turn out better than others and I welcome suggestions and tweaks to improve them. So if you’re someone who tried this cake, do let me know your thoughts.
Lemon Sheet Pan Cake With Jowar (Sorghum)
- 200 g all-purpose flour
- 160 g jowar or sorghum flour
- 200 g granulated, white sugar
- 160 g olive oil
- 280 g Greek yoghurt
- 3 eggs
- 60 g lemon juice
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp soda bicarbonate
- ¾ tsp salt
For the lemon syrup
- 50 g lemon juice
- 90 g castor sugar
- Preheat the oven to 176°C, line a 13"x 9" sheet pan with baking parchment and lightly grease it.
- In a bowl whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
- In another bowl, whisk the sugar with lemon zest and olive oil, beating the eggs in one at a time till you have a creamy, frothy mixture. Add the vanilla.
- Mix in the lemon juice and Greek yoghurt and whisk till the yoghurt is incorporated into the egg mixture.
- Gently fold in the dry mixture with spatula making sure there are no lumps of flour in the batter. Take to use a light hand just till the batter is a homogenous mixture. Overmixing will yield a dense cake.
- Pour the cake into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- While the cake bakes, make the syrup by gently heating the lemon juice with the castor sugar in a pan just till the sugar dissolves. Do not boil.
- Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then drizzle the syrup all over the cake evenly. Let it soak and allow the cake to cool fully before slicing.