With a growing drift of snow on my thirteenth floor balcony and icicles dangling down from the fourteenth floor, winter isn’t relenting anytime soon. It’s the kind of bleak white day that makes me want to have a pot of stock simmering away for hours or bake something bright and sunny to warm the house and add a splash of color to my day.
Whether you’re caught up in the throes of life, or ensnared in the thick of winter, this Meyer lemon cake will brighten your day and put a smile on your face. Rich and buttery with a vibrant bouquet of citrus and the sweet tang of Meyer lemons, it’s moist, balanced and utterly delicious.
Best of all, it’s relatively straightforward and employs a few techniques to make it almost foolproof. I started with a basic pound cake batter, which tends to be both tasty and stable. To guarantee that it rises, I use a combination of baking soda and baking powder, which reacts with the acidic lemon juice and yogurt to give it some hefty lifting ability. Because I coat it with both a syrup and a glaze I cut back on the sugar in the batter itself to keep it from getting too sweet.
Then to ensure you don’t miss the lemon, I hit it with a triple dose of flavor. First, there’s the Meyer lemon juice and zest in the batter. Then I make a simple syrup with Meyer lemon juice and sugar, which gets poured onto the hot cake as it comes out of the oven. This not only allows you to infuse fresh lemon flavor into the cake, it also helps keep the cake moist for nearly a week. Lastly there’s the glaze, inspired by the scene outside, which hits the cake with a third dose of tart lemon on top.
What you get is a moist lemon cake, with a vivid yellow interior and snow-white cap that’s as colorful as it is flavorful. Slice it and serve it for brunch, or with a dollop of clotted cream as a delightful end to a Valentine’s Day dinner.
- 195 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2.5 grams baking powder (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1.25 grams baking soda (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1.5 grams salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- 113 grams cultured unsalted butter (8 tablespoons at room temperature)
- 150 grams granulated sugar (about 3/4 cup)
- 6 grams Meyer lemon zest (about 3 lemons finely grated)
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 50 grams granulated sugar (about 1/4 cup)
- ¼ cup Meyer lemon juice
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 - 3 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 8-inch by 4 1/4-inch loaf pan, or you can line it with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
- In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest for 5 minutes on medium speed.
- Add the 1/3 of the flour mixture to the mixer and and mix until combined. Add 1/2 of the yogurt mixture and mix until combined. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until combined. Add the rest of the yogurt mixture and mix until combined. Finish by adding the remaining flour and mix until combined.
- Add the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 50-55 minutes).
- While the cake bakes, make the Meyer lemon simple syrup by mixing the sugar and lemon juice in a small nonreactive saucepan and heat while stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- When the cake is done, slowly pour or spoon the syrup over the cake while it is still hot. Make sure you let each addition of syrup soak in before adding more. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar together with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice until there are no lumps. The glaze should be thin enough to pour, but thick enough that it's not runny. Adjust the viscosity with more powdered sugar or lemon juice. Drizzle this over the cooled cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Let the glaze set before slicing and serving.