Thursday, May 2, 2013

Meyer Lemon Upside-down Cake

The beauty of the internet is that we can learn about things that we would otherwise not experience in our lives.  We gain access to information and products that might have been out of reach before.  The downside of the internet is that sometimes it introduces us to things we still can’t have.  For years now, I have been reading about Meyer lemons.  They grow well in places with warm climates and most of the fruit becomes ready for picking in the wintertime.  If you plant Meyer lemons from seeds, it takes more than four years for the plant to produce lemons.  But most importantly, they are a hybrid citrus combining the tartness of lemons and the sweetness of oranges.  Who wouldn’t want to try such a lovely fruit?

If you follow my Facebook page, you know that I finally live somewhere that Meyer lemons are available.  Sadly, I don’t mean they are grown locally, although there is really no reason they couldn’t be, but they are imported for sale at my nearby grocery store.  I struggled with the outrageous expense and the fact that they had been flown clear from the other side of the world.  And then I broke down and bought some.   Lovely, truly lovely.   My bag had only six lemons so I had to choose my recipes carefully.  But I knew when I first cradled that yellow mesh bag in my eager arms, that upside-down cake would be one of them.

2 Meyer lemons
1/2 cup or 115g butter, plus extra for buttering the pan
3/4 cup, packed, or 150g light brown sugar

For the cake batter:
1 1/2 cups or 190g flour
1 cup or 225g sugar
1/2 cup or 115g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Prepare your baking pan (about 10in or 25cm diameter) by buttering it liberally and then lining it with parchment paper cut to the exact size of the bottom.  You can take your chances and not line it if you have a non-stick pan but sometimes caramelizing sugar will stick.  And that is one of the risks of upside down cakes.

Melt your butter and allow it to cool slightly.  Add in the brown sugar and stir well.

Pour this mixture into the baking pan.  It should spread right out and cover the bottom.

Slice your lemons very thinly and remove the seeds from the slices.

Starting in the middle, cover your sugar butter mixture with the lemon slices, overlapping them ever so slightly.   As you get to the outside, you may have to cut some slices in half to achieve full coverage.

In a large mixing bowl, beat all of the cake batter ingredients at low speed until well mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently with a rubber spatula.

Increase the beater speed to medium and beat for five minutes, stopping every couple of minutes to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Slowly pour the batter over the lemon slices in your baking pan.   Smooth out the top with your rubber spatula.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes.  The cake should begin pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Invert your serving plate on the top of the cake pan and turn both over quickly and decisively.  The cake should fall out of the pan on to the serving dish.

Gently lift the cake pan off and then peel the parchment paper off of the cake.  If any lemon slices have stuck to the parchment, ease them carefully off with the tip of a knife as you peel back the parchment.

Use a spatula to scrape up any syrup left in the pan and drizzle it over the cake.

This wonderful cake is sticky and tangy and sweet.  It will be most appreciated by anyone who is a fan of marmalade.  Or Meyer lemons.  Or cake.

I took this to a dinner party so I don’t have any photos of the cake being cut but I can tell you that each slice was served to warm acclaim with a generous dollop of crème fraîche.  I suggest you do the same.



  1. This looks incredible. I'm lucky enough to have meyer lemons in my yard, and just got a pile of a neighbor's mystery lemon-oranges — not meyers, but yellow, lemon-shaped, and sweet (if you let them sit a week after picking). Clearly, I'll need to bake one cake with each variety.
    I have heard something about baking upside-down cakes in cast iron skillets, but I wonder if the lemon from the acid would react and make a terrible mess. Thoughts?

  2. My mother is a collector - some would say hoarder - of cast iron pans and pots. If well seasoned, she would tell you that there is no more non-stick surface. That said, I don't think she has ever baked a citrus upside-down cake in one. What's the worst that can happen? It might stick (which you can avoid with a layer of parchment paper) and you'll have to pry it off, but you can never ruin a cast iron pan. A good scrub will see it right. Let me know how you get on!

  3. This looks fantastic! I'd love a big slice for dessert tonight!

  4. A thing of sunshiny beauty!! I've never heard for this but we love lemons and this would make a great dessert!

  5. G'day! Your photos look amazing, TRUE!
    Thanks for the hint and tip...very handy indeed too!
    What's On The List?

  6. Thanks, Sarah! I wish I had one to offer you.

  7. I don't know if real lemons would be too tart, but I suppose that depends on your taste. My own mother-in-law eats the lemons when I roast them with chicken!

  8. Thanks, Joanne! I appreciate your kind words.

  9. YUM!! I have always wanted to try an upside down lemon cake. Question: do you ever worry about the pith making it bitter?

  10. With normal lemons that might be an issue, Laura but the Meyer lemons, being a hybrid of lemons and oranges, aren't as bitter. There was still something marmalade-y about this though. That is to say, a good mix of bitter and sweet.

  11. WOW, Stacey, what a gorgeous upside-down cake! Would you believe I've never tried a meyer lemons??? It's my mission to get a hold of some soon, and I'm definitely making your cake! Such a brilliant idea. Pinned! That said..thank you so much for your warm thoughts regarding Mandy's passing. xo

  12. I meant 'Stacy'. my friend spells it with an 'e', so that's the way I'm used to typing it lol

  13. Thank you for your kind words, Lisa!

  14. No worries! I see it spelled so many ways. Just glad when folks come to comment. :)

  15. That looks so good. I definitely have to try that.

  16. I hope you do, Ida! It was sticky and more-ish. :)


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