So, a while back I posted that I needed to figure out what to do with all my Meyer lemons.  I’ve tried making lemonade (thanks for that suggestion, Erika!), but I find it tastes kind of funky with Meyers.  Funky not in a nasty way, but in a way I don’t want my lemonade to taste.

So I’ve been looking for recipes that use the maximum amount of Meyer lemons, and I found a good one at Martha Stewart’s site: Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake.  I’m a huge fan of Martha so I decided to make it.

The hardest part of the recipe was prepping all the lemons.  You need the zest from 4 – 5 lemons, and then you have to slice 5 of them into WAH-fer thin slices.  I tried to use my mandoline, but it just mangled the lemons, so I did them all by hand.  I was pretty proud of the results.

all by hand, suckas

The zest was lovely, too.

The reason you need so many lemons here (9 – 10, actually) is that the lemon slices actually go in the cake.  They form a kind of middle layer.  I thought the prep for them was kind of funky: you cook them in water for 1 minute, drain them, and then cook them in simmering water for another minute.  Huh?  I’m assuming this step is supposed to take some of the bitterness away?  Then you have to lay them out in a single layer on parchment paper, and TRUST ME, that took WAAAAAY too long to do.

middle layer of the cake

The cake itself is a nice sour cream cake, with all the lemon zest mixed in.  I made it with white whole wheat flour because it was all I had on hand, and I think that was a mistake because the cake was definitely too dry– the texture just wasn’t smooth enough.  So, if you make this cake, stick with regular flour.

You really get a triple whammy of lemon in this cake, since you have the slices in the middle, the zest in the cake, and a glaze made with confectioner’s sugar and Meyer lemon juice.

Having said that, it wasn’t really that… good.  I ended up throwing a bunch away.  (The horror!)  My analysis is that a few things went wrong here.  As I mentioned above, the whole wheat flour was a bad idea.  But more than that, I think, were the lemon slices in the middle.  I chose this recipe because it did call for so many lemons, but those slices were NOT good in the middle.  FIrst, they were too sour.  Second, the texture was too weird– they didn’t break apart, so with every bite you’d have a stringy, thin lemon slice dangling off the fork.  Also, there wasn’t enough streusel for my taste.

I think I might make it again, though, if I get inundated with lemons.  What I would do to tweak it is simmer the lemons in simple syrup– a combo of water and sugar– so that they get kind of candied.  Then, I wonder if you could pulse them in the food processor and make a kind of paste that could form the middle layer?  That might be nasty, but worth a try?  I don’t know.  But those slices needed more sweetness and less stringiness.  Maybe if you cut them into quarters as well…

I’d also double the recipe for the streusel because everyone knows that’s the best part of the cake!

Any other suggestions for how to tweak this recipe to make it better?

P.S. — You can thank me later if you clicked on the “wah-fer” link.  I was going to link it to the Mr. Creosote sketch, but then decided that some innocent bystander might click over and pass out when they saw all that vomit.  So I left it with the Wikipedia entry.  But you can see the sketch on YouTube, if you are interested, even if it has been suggested, according to Wikipedia, that the sketch is “one of the most repulsive in twentieth-century cinema.”



Leave a Comment

  • February 5, 2010, 2:16 pm Eva

    Wow, that is fascinating. I’ve never even thought of putting a layer of lemons in a cake! LOVE your idea about getting them candied first. I think that would definitely help. And a paste sounds interesting too–although I’d be worried that the liquid part of the paste would sink down into the batter and change the consistency, and you’d be left with a paste layer in your cake that was predominantly pith and rind.

    It’s all that pith that I feel like sinks this recipe, in terms of both texture and bitterness. I feel like you’d get a fresher flavor by sectioning a bunch of lemons and not using any of the pith and rind. You already have the rind you zested for flavor.

    Other options for leftover lemons:
    1. Juice them, freeze them in ice cube trays and pop the cubes into water, juice, soups, marinades, etc.
    2. Cut them up and shove them down your garbage disposal to clean the blades.
    3. Make preserved lemons — so good with fish and tagines.
    4. Give them to me! I adore lemons.

  • February 5, 2010, 8:35 pm Erica

    Regardless of how it tasted, your photos are mouth-watering! I also love your candor, it is so endearing. Have you ever tried using the Meyer lemons to make a dessert similar to a lemon square or key lime pie?

  • February 6, 2010, 4:42 am Amy

    Wow! Well it sure looks purty. Nothing I bake ever actually looks like it ought to, you know? So, count me impressed. But I can imagine what you mean about the layer ‘o lemon. What if you just blended and mixed them into the batter? So there’s not really a layer but an overall lemoniness? ;)

  • February 6, 2010, 8:26 am Erika

    Wow, it looked so good in the picture. I’ll just pretend it’s coffee cake. I’m not crazy about lemons in dessert, but I’m in the minority. I was thinking candied when you said it didn’t work. That’d be interesting and then you could put a few on top to signal the lemoniness.

    I think the “etc” in Eva’s #1 suggestion is lemon drop martini. You should try to make a meyer lemon cocktail. Maybe what they need isn’t just sugar but alcohol ;-)

  • February 6, 2010, 9:23 am bethpc

    Thanks for the suggestions! Erika, I think you are right on– I actually found a recipe last night for Meyer lemon (specifically) margaritas, so I’m all over that. Erica, I found the margarita recipe next to one for lemon bars, and they looked good, too! So both of your suggestions are on the docket. :-) Eva, I’ll have to find a recipe for preserved lemons… really? It’s good?

  • February 6, 2010, 7:17 pm Eva

    Meyer lemon cocktails sound like heaven! What an awesome way to up your vitamin C intake.

    I really like preserved lemons, but again, I’m a lemon lover. It’s really nice with fish and couscous — it’s usually found in Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisine, so if you like those, you might like it. I’ve never made it only because all the recipes I’ve found are just too huge. They call for like 8-10 lemons, and I don’t think I’d go through it all.

  • February 9, 2010, 12:06 pm Charlotte

    Re your use of “funky.” True confession: I know that meyer lemons are the foodie darling of the moment, but I find that they smell and taste like wet dog. No joke.