Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Here’s another great thing about living in California:

Coworkers who have an overabundance of fruit from their Meyer lemon trees bring the excess to the office to get rid of them. And when work hands me Meyer lemons, I make Meyer lemon cake.

BUT… if you don’t know what a Meyer lemon is, you’re not alone. Here’s a quick overview:

They’re described as being a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. The skin is thinner and more golden in color than a regular lemon. Some say the juice is a bit sweeter than regular lemons, but I think only super-tasters or citrus fruit connoisseurs might be able to tell the difference (they’re still pretty sour, IMO).

The trees are used as decor in China where they originated and only exploded on the culinary scene in the United States in the last decade or so — apparently we can thank Martha Stewart for that. They were brought to the US in the early 20th century by Frank Meyer, who was introduced to them in China while working for the US Department of Agriculture. Now, they’re predominantly grown in California, Texas and Florida and because they have a thin skin, they’re hard to ship. They’re also pretty expensive, so when coworkers bring them into the office, you shouldn’t let them go to waste.

This is my love letter to Meyer lemons. It’s a recipe I adapted from a Melissa Clark apple cake recipe that she’s including in her next cookbook. I don’t like cooked apples, but I thought I could elevate this cake with these magical little fruits.

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Cake

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Zest of one Meyer lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • Juice of one Meyer lemon

Icing:

  • 1 ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 TB Buttermilk
  • 1 TB Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Lemon zest

Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, buttermilk, eggs, brandy, and vanilla. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture (do not over mix!). Fold in butter followed by the lemon juice. Pour into prepared loaf pan (8 ½” x 4 ½”). Bake for 45 to 60 minutes. It’s done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Icing:

Whisk together powdered sugar, lemon juice, buttermilk, and lemon zest. Drizzle the icing over cooled cake.

Serve.

This cake is like eating sunshine. It’s so good, I’ve made it three times in one week. It’s easy to make and requires no special equipment. There’s no reason not to try it.


Originally published at derivativedishes.com on February 24, 2017.