Sunday, March 3, 2013

Meyer Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake Drizzled with Chocolate Sauce
A Little Chocolate Makes Anything Better

Recipe adapted from Cooking by the Seasons

One of the best things about winter in Santa Cruz, at least for foodies, is Meyer lemons. They grow abundantly throughout the county, and chances are someone at your work, among your friends, or in your rock band has a tree. If that’s the case, sooner or later you’ll get to share the wealth. A cross between the standard Eureka lemon and a mandarin, they are more fragrant and sweet than the Eurekas. This sweet bit of sunshine in the midst of winter is perfect for baked goods.

Whole Lemon Cake with Jars of Yellow and Red Raspberries, and Chocolate sauce
Topping Possibilities
This recipe is from one of my favorite seasonal eating resources, Cooking by the Seasons, written by Cape Cod Wiccan Karri Ann  Allrich. As far as I (and a whole slew of Amazon raters) can tell, there are no mediocre recipes in this cookbook; all recipes are sensational. Ms. Allrich pairs this lemon cake with her Chocolate Cognac Sauce, but we used a chocolate orange sauce that we had on hand and some berries in light honey sauce I’d preserved last summer. This cake is rich and zingy on its own, simple and appropriate as we move from winter into spring.

The original recipe contains ½ cup finely chopped walnuts, added to the batter last. I prefer the cake’s smoothness without the nuts, but would consider adding about ¼  cup poppy seeds to the mix. Evaporated cane juice is my standard choice of sugar, and I would not substitute anything heavier, since this cake has a delicate lightness despite being rather dense with butter, sour cream, and eggs. I substituted fat free sour cream, which worked out beautifully. This recipe requires about 2 large lemons.

Lemon Cake Slice with Toppings
With Honey-Preserved Raspberries and Chocolate
Note that this cake can be made in either a loaf pan or a tube pan. You could also choose to make 4 small (5¾ “ x 3” x 2”) loaves to give as end-of-winter gifts.  Remember to reduce the cooking time; start checking them at about 30 minutes. One final suggestion: shake the cake to loosen it from the pan before applying the glaze. When you see the cake moving in the pan, top with the glaze. This will make unmolding the cake easier, despite the lemon-sugar glaze’s strong tendency to stick to the pan.

You can make this cake with regular Eureka lemons, as Ms. Allrich does, if you don’t have Meyer lemons.

Slice of Lemon Cake
Perfectly Delicious on its Own
Meyer Lemon Cake
serves about 10

1 cup butter
1 cup evaporated cane juice or other sugar
4 large eggs
1½ tbsp. Meyer lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup sugar
lemon zest or lemon slices, optional garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9” x 11” (large) loaf pan or an 8-9” tube pan.

In large mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add 1 cup sugar and cream together. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in lemon zest, vanilla, and sour cream.

In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Gradually stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Bake for  about 50 – 55 minutes,  until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven, and allow it to cool on a rack for 5 minutes.

While cake is cooling, make glaze: combine lemon juice and ½ cup sugar in saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer sauce, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until it begins to look like syrup. When bubbles start getting bigger and mounding up, it’s syrup!

Shake cake to loosen it from sides of pan. Immediately pour or spoon on hot glaze, generously covering entire surface.

Allow cake to cool completely then remove from pan to cake plate. Garnish with lemon zest or lemon slices if desired.

Glaze with Tiny Bubbles
Glaze is Not Syrup Yet
Glaze with Many Big Bubbles
Glaze is Syrup: Stop Heating and Put Onto Cake


  1. "In your rock band" hee hee :-)

    And yes, our Meyer Lemons are wondrous, divine and PLENTIFUL!

    1. Yokata, I have to admit that I brought lemons to (not exactly rock) band rehearsal a few years back. I imagined some rock drummer's wife urging him to do the same with her harvest! :)

  2. Yummy! loved the "rock band" comment, too!