meyer lemon cake

January 11, 2012

I believe citrus to be the saviour of winter. Just when you’re starting to get depressed about the lack of all things fresh and bright (and a teeny bit bored of squash), along comes citrus season.

It starts with satsumas, which we’ve been eating constantly all December and January, a big, full bowl in our dining room ever since I spotted them in the grocery store.

If you can get your hands on a Texas Red Ruby grapefruit you’ll be incredibly happy you did. I always eat grapefruit with sugar sprinkled on top, to mellow out the sourness, but these need not a grain of sugar. They’re so sweet – still sour – but sweet! And bursting with juice. Just gorgeous.

Then there are blood oranges. Just read this blog post I wrote last year about this blood orange olive oil cake and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.

And…meyer lemons. So much more yellow than their conventional counterparts and rounder too. Pick one up and smell it, breathe it in, and remember that winter isn’t the barren season we sometimes think of it as. Thank goodness for citrus.

This cake is described in the original recipe as “the best damn meyer lemon cake” which… made me laugh. I haven’t made another meyer lemon cake to be able to compare but I’ll say this: it’s a damn good cake.

It’s a do-ahead job since you want the cake to sit for a whopping 24 hours before serving. I know. I blinked as well. But there’s a good reason and that is the super-addictive lemon-sugar glaze which spends a day seeping through the cake as it sits. Once you get to slicing it, it will be an entirely different cake than if you skipped this step.

The result is bright, zingy, moist, with with a sharp-sweet crust coating every slice.

The best damn meyer lemon cake – otherwise known as how to make friends in wintertime. Enjoy.

Meyer Lemon Cake
adapted from Maida Heatter via Saveur


  • 1 tbsp butter, plus 8 tbsp melted
  • 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, plus 2 tbsp to dust pan
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine salt
  • 1 1/3 cups plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp lemon extract
  • Zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons


  1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan with 1 tbsp. of the butter and dust it with 2 tbsp flour. Tap out the excess and set aside. In a food processor, grind the almonds until very fine then set aside.
  2. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  3. Put the melted butter into a large bowl and add 1 cup of the sugar and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just long enough to incorporate each one.
  4. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until mixed after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the lemon extract. With the spatula, fold in the lemon zest and ground almonds. (The mixture will be thin.)
  5. Turn batter into your prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and dry, about 65 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack.
  6. Prepare the glaze: Combine remaining sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes, but do not let it boil. Brush the glaze over the hot cake. (The excess liquid may pool along the sides of the pan; it will absorb completely as it sits.) Once the cake has absorbed all the liquid, turn it out of the pan and allow it to cool upright on a rack.
  7. Once it’s cool, wrap the cake with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours before serving.
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