Happy birthday to me! Every year my dear friend Cayce sends me a box of Meyer lemons, picked from her neighbor’s tree in San José. I can’t imagine a better birthday gift. And because she sends me such a GIANT box, I get to experiment with all kinds of recipes. This Meyer lemon cake is one of my favorites. I was originally drawn to this recipe because it uses the whole lemon, skin and all. That sounded so odd, I had to try it. Meyer lemons have thinner skins than most citrus, which works well in this recipe, and they’re also a little sweeter than most lemons, since they’re a hybrid of a lemon and a mandarin orange.
What You’ll Need to Make Meyer Lemon Cake
1 pound Meyer lemons
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 Tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
10 very thin slices of Meyer lemon (for decoration)
What You’ll Do to Make Meyer Lemon Cake
Wash your lemons well, then move them to a large stockpot and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for half an hour. Pour the lemons out into a colander, then transfer them to a bowl of ice water and let them cool. When they’re cool enough to handle comfortably, cut each lemon in half. The insides of the lemons will still be very hot, so let them sit on the cutting board for 10-15 minutes, then remove the seeds. Do the seed removal over a bowl, so you don’t squander any valuable Meyer lemon juice.
Place the de-seeded lemons (and all their juice) in a blender or food processor, and purée the heck out of them, until they are perfectly smooth, like lemon curd or pudding. Set the purée aside.
Preheat the oven to 350F, then butter and flour a nine inch spring form pan.
Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then set them aside. Most recipes tell you to beat the yolks first, but then you have to clean the mixing bowl before you can beat the whites, because the fat in the egg yolks keeps the whites from stiffening. I beat the whites first, move them to a plate, then use the mixing bowl again, without washing it. Lazy? Sue me.
In the mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar, and beat until the mixture is smooth and pale yellow. Next, stir in the lemon purée you made earlier and the almond extract. Add the flours, baking powder, and salt, then stir to combine.
Fold in the egg whites and pour the batter into the buttered pan, smoothing the top of the batter.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake and the sides of the cake pull away from the pan. Let the cake cool while you make the glaze.
To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and Meyer lemon juice. Spread the glaze evenly over the cake, while the cake is still slightly warm.
For the final decoration, blanch the thin lemon slices in boiling water for two or three minutes, to soften them, then move them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Cut the slices in half and arrange them on top of the glaze.
This cake is the perfect combination of sweet and tart. It’s moist, and pretty, and makes me wish Meyer lemons were in season all year ’round.