I cannot even explain to you how fun the girls thought it was to have a heart surprise in this lemon bread! It would be such a fun treat to bring to a Valentine’s Day party, or like my 2.5 year old chef brought up, a baby shower. This same idea can be used for muffins or cupcakes too! If you’re in a hurry, you could use pound cake mix. 

The heart surprise cake was super cute… but it was also time consuming. It takes twice as long, as you are baking a cake twice – once to make the cut-outs, and once for the final cake. I made this recipe again to test the ingredients and filled it with blueberries. I have to admit I like this version better. 
And then we made the same recipe a third time but used chocolate chips instead of blueberries and left the lemon juice and zest out. There is no picture because it was devoured immediately. The chocolate chip version without glaze was definitely the winner in our house. 

Here’s a video tutorial for the heart filled loaf. Please excuse the poor lighting, it’s was a dreary dark day!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo6AP9EFRds]

Healthy Lemon Loaf Cake 
printer friendly recipe

Makes 1 loaf – 12 Servings (If making the heart filled cake, double this recipe!) 

1.5 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup stevia baking blend
zest of 3 large lemons
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup 2% Greek yogurt, room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
2/3 cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries (optional) or chocolate chips (omit the lemon and glaze)

For the glaze (Optional)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt,  stevia blend, and lemon zest.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, buttermilk, vanilla, yogurt, applesauce, eggs, and oil. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

For the heart-filled cake: 
Follow the recipe above but do not combine the wet ingredients with the dry. Instead, transfer half of the dry ingredients to another medium bowl. Stir in half of the wet ingredients. Measure if it helps you be precise. Stir in pink food coloring. Bake in a loaf pan until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Cool and cut into slices. Using a heart (or any shape!) cookie cutter cut out hearts. Discard scraps for snacking on later! Coat a clean loaf pan with cooking spray. Arrange cut-outs in a single line from one end of the pan to the other so that they stand up and are all aligned.

Stir the remaining wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Carefully spread the batter over and around the cut-out layer. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool and slice.

*for a naughtier, butter filled version, try this recipe, or use pound cake mix with added lemon zest and juice.

*Nutrition information calculated by SparkPeople for the blueberry lemon loaf without glaze.