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Archive for April 23rd, 2010

Meyer Lemon Cake


We still have lemons.  Many lemons.  Apparently we have one of the most productive ever-bearing Meyer lemon trees on the planet.  And it is now flowering again…and being pollinated and will therefore be producing more fruit in the near future.  So my hunt continues for interesting and creative ways to juice, squeeze, preserve, cook with and bake with Meyer lemons.  Thoughts, recipes, ideas are welcome!  I found a recipe for this Meyer Lemon Cake in this book.

It is worth the time and many steps involved in making this cake…and I think that it might end up being a very simple cake to make…if I made it all the time.  Chez Panisse Cooking may not look like a very exciting cookbook with it’s lack of drool-inducing photographs of each recipe and ingredient…but the value of it’s actual substance – food philosophy, recipes, techniques and insight into Alice Waters – is huge.  I highly recommend all of the Chez Panisse series.  The illustrations are even worthy of frames hung on a wall. (See below for full recipe.)

First, start with Meyer lemons, zest them, and juice them.  The recipe calls for approximately 8 lemons.  I must have some really juicy lemons, because I only juiced 3.5 lemons and had more than enough juice for the cake.

Eggs are separated and whites are whisked until you have stiff, but not dry, peaks.  Copper bowl is not required…just fun to use if you have one.  I had to ask Woody if I could use his – as it was a Christmas gift after a very long and extensive search for a true copper round bottom bowl that wouldn’t break the bank – he’s always wanted one.  Permission was granted.

Eggs, lemon juice, sugar – beaten and frothy.

Sugary, lofty egg whites.

Flour added to egg yolk and sugar mixture.

I know you were dying to see the inside of my oven…so here it is!  I used a mini-bundt pan and a regular sized bread loaf pan – the proportions look very strange in the photo above if you weren’t aware of the mini-bundt.

Pulling them out of the oven and unmolding them revealed a delicious and perfectly toasty golden color to the cake.

This was perhaps the 4th or 5th glazing…all of it pooled on top would sink right into the cake and it would once again look as if it had just been taken out of the pan.  Don’t let your glaze cool too much, otherwise it won’t be viscous enough to soak in.

Also, you should poke more holes than you think you should.  Poke the skewer in 8-10 times and then poke it again and again and again!

Voilá!

I had plans to candy the thyme…but funny enough, I ran out of time.  HA!

Meyer Lemon Cake
from Chez Panisse Cooking

for the cake:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

for the glaze:

1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 2/3 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Melt butter in a saucepan, set aside to cool. In a mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks with 1 cup of sugar, until thick and light in color. Beat in the buttermilk, lemon juice, and zest. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Add the remaining quarter cup of sugar, then continue beating until stiff peaks are formed.

Alternately fold half of the flour into the egg yolk mixture, followed by half of the egg whites. Fold carefully as not to deflate the batter. Repeat with remaining portions. Take approximately 1 cup of batter and stir into the melted butter. Gently fold the butter mixture into the cake batter. Pour into a buttered, and floured, 9-inch cake pan, springform pan, bundt cake pan, bread loaf pan – really any pan will do.  Bake for 50-60 minutes – this time varies depending on the type of pan you use.  Always test the cake for doneness with a toothpick or skewer.  No one likes a dry cake.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Combine the lemon juice and confectioners sugar. Heat in a saucepan just until sugar is melted. Set aside until cake is done.  I found that the volume of glaze was more than I needed, but I am also a little hesitant about soggy cake.  I probably could have used more.  It’s delicious stuff!

When the cake is done baking, cool for 5 minutes in pan. Turn the cake out on a cooling rack, and invert. With a long toothpick or skewer, poke the top of the cake making small holes. Slowly spoon on the glaze. Wait for the glaze to sink in, then add more. Repeat process until all of the glaze is used.  Cool cake completely, and enjoy!

For an extra ooommph at the time of plating – drizzle the glaze over each slice and top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

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