A week ago I found something at the market (or FreshDirect, which is often “the market” in New York City) I had never bought before: Meyer lemons. Over the years I’ve had a few desserts flavored with Meyer lemons but have never used them myself. For those of you who don’t know, Meyer lemons are a cousin of the lemons we use every day; they are a little smaller, a little rounder, with a slightly more orange color, making them a beautiful canary yellow. And the taste? Sort of a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange. Yet while the taste is similar to a lemon, Meyer lemons are not as tart or acidic as lemons. You can see how Meyers measure up next to a typical large lemon below:
The Meyer lemons sat in my fridge for a week before I decided what to do with them – make a cake! I saw a beautiful lemon cake on the lovely blog Lemons and Anchovies, and used it as my inspiration. As much of a chocoholic as I am, I love lemon desserts. Even my last birthday cake was a Lemon and Blueberry Layer Cake. This cake turned out lovely – super moist and not too sweet, with a strong lemony flavor that was also mellowed by the use of the Meyers. The cornmeal adds a little bit of texture, but this definitely doesn’t taste like cornbread; the cake has a light and delicate crumb. It’s still citrus season, so I say take advantage and whip up this cake, especially if you have a special occasion coming up.
I tried to lighten up the recipe a bit, but who are we kidding? This isn’t the most diet-friendly of desserts. Serve up in small slices and you’ll be fine!
One year ago: Lemon Chicken + Roasted Asparagus
Meyer Lemon Cornmeal Cake
Recipe by Pâte à Chew; inspired by Lemon and Anchovies
If you use regular lemons in this recipe, up the sugar in the cake to 2 cups, from 1 3/4 cups, as the regular lemons will make the cake more tart.
You can omit the ground almonds and add an extra 1/2 cup all-purpose flour to the recipe instead.
Makes 12-16 servings
Total time: 2 hours
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons grated Meyer lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
For the syrup
1/2 cup Meyer lemon or lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
For the glaze
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4-1/3 cup Meyer lemon or lemon juice
1. Heat oven to 325°F. Prepare a 10-cup decorative tube pan or a 12-cup Bundt pan by coated with baking spray (I always use Pam for Baking). In a food processor, grind the almonds until very fine, about 30 seconds, and set aside. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Combine buttermilk and lemon juice in another bowl and set aside.
2. In a separate bowl beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest with a standing mixer or hand mixer set at medium speed until the batter is light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add lemon extract (if using), then beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated into the batter after each addition. Put the mixer to low, and mix in the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in 3 additions until the batter is smooth, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrap down the bowl with a spatula at least once during the addition of the dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Gently fold in ground almonds. Scrape into prepared pan; level top with spatula.
3. Bake 55 to 65 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup: Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cake is done, allow to cool for 5 minutes. Spoon syrup all over hot cake until absorbed. It helps to take a toothpick or knife and make small holes in the cake before adding the syrup. Cool completely.
5. Make the glaze: Stir confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth. Start with 1/4 cup lemon juice, adding a little more if you think the icing is too thick. Remove the cake from the pan and transfer cake to a serving plate and cover. Pour glaze over top of cake; it will slowly make its way down to the bottom of the cake. Let cake rest several hours, or overnight, before serving. Store cake covered at room temperature up to 4 days. Cut into thin slices to serve.