Sunday, February 10, 2013

Meyer Lemon Pound Cake

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You may remember the Meyer lemons I grew with my own two hands last year–they made the trip from bud to blossom to fruit in about six months, and I waited impatiently for their ripening the entire time.  So imagine my surprise (nay, my sheer delight) when I discovered that my local Costco was selling Meyer lemon trees with lemons already on them.  It probably goes without saying that I bought one, and I harvested its three perfect lemons as soon as I got it home.  A joyous day: my older Meyer lemon tree had a pollinating partner, and I had three Meyer lemons that needed to be put to some special use.

I thought about making another Meyer Lemon Superpie.  As tempting as that was, though, I wanted to try something new.  So I looked through a bunch of recipes, including lemon souffles and pudding cakes, before I decided on something little simpler: a pound cake I could flavor with the lemon juice and zest.  Meyer lemons have a very thin skin that doesn’t yield a lot of zest, but I decided not to supplement with the frozen zest of lemons I’ve loved in the past.  I wanted this to be a purely Meyer lemon concoction.

Pound cake is an excellent choice for people who are on a gluten-free diet.  Gluten-free flour blends yield cakes with a dense crumb, and since pound cake is meant to be dense, the two are a good match.  (On the other hand, since I adapted this recipe from several others that called for wheat flour, just use whatever you normally have on hand and you’re likely to have good results.)  I also used the Neilsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste that I love to use for lighter cakes–those dark flecks of vanilla bean add a really nice contrast.  If you don’t have that in your cupboard, though, plain old vanilla extract will work just as well.

One word of warning: the glaze recipe below makes about twice and much as you’ll need for this cake.  (I wanted to use up all the Meyer lemon juice I had, so I made a big batch.)  That means you’ll have plenty left over for spooning over pancakes, toast, muffins, scones, or anything else that could use a little splash of lemon flavor.  Store it, covered, in your refrigerator.  If it thickens too much, just microwave it until you have the desirable consistency.

Left to set up on the pound cake or on other baked goods, this glaze provides a crackly sweet topping.  Used as a substitute for syrup or jam, it will have a softer consistency.  It’s delicious either way.  But if you don’t want leftover glaze, just halve the amounts listed in the glaze recipe below.

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Meyer Lemon Pound Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 T. Meyer lemon juice
1/2 cup milk
1 T. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 T. butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a large loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar. Add the beaten eggs and whisk to combine. Add the lemon juice, milk, and vanilla all at once, and whisk one more time. When you add the lemon zest, switch to a spoon or spatula and stir just until the zest has been distributed throughout.

In a separate smaller bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in three additions, stirring just until the dry mixture has been moistened. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake for one hour, or until the top of the cake has browned and a knife inserted at the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely on a cooling rack.

When you're ready to glaze the cake, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Make sure to get rid of any lumps of powdered sugar. Center a sheet of waxed paper under the cooling rack and use a large spoon to pour about half of the glaze over the cake. It will run over the top and drip down the sides. Allow the glaze to set up for about 15 minutes before slicing the cake.

Store the remaining glaze in the refrigerator, in a covered container.

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