When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Cake

Meyers are the sweetest lemons you can find!
Meyers are the sweetest lemons you can find!

My favorite lemon has a first name, it’s M-E-Y-E-R…..
So maybe it’s not baloney, but it’s Meyer for sure.

The King Has Left The Building.

Last spring, I went to a Lemon Festival in the city of Upland, CA. I was so excited to go, since I love tangy citrus, and of course, I’m a foodie at heart. As I pulled into the parking area, I saw banners that read “Upland Lemon Festival: 3 Days Where Lemon is King”. Wowee! King! Did you hear that? I could hardly wait to sink my teeth into lemon meringue pie… or perhaps sip some homemade lemonade… and I walked toward the gala in anticipation.

winter lemon cake There was a petting zoo, a wild west shootout, and many kiosk booths selling the home-party-of-the-moment goods. What happened next was something I’d not forseen: I realized that there was not a lemon in sight… well, other than the poor guy who had to wear a big felt lemon costume, and the option of getting lemonade concentrate from the Pepsi dispenser. I asked the people at the information booth, and they seemed to think I was crazy asking for lemon goodies. I think there was more real lemon in a bottle of furniture polish. But I digress…

A while back, I was fortunate enough to have a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree at a previous residence.  For 5 years I tended to this tree and picked an average of 330 citrusy beauties per season. Needless to say, I have tried many lemon recipes, and I never tire of them.

Thanks, Frank.

The Meyer Lemon is different from regular lemons, in that it is not a true lemon, but a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. A Dutch man by the name of Frank Meyer brought these beautiful trees to America from China over 100 years ago, and those living in the citrus belt of the country have been delighted ever since.

The thin, delicate skin is very smooth, and it shines when you wash it. The fruit turns a golden orange when it’s ripe for picking, and the flavor is so sweet, that when you make lemonade from it, you use a much smaller ratio of sugar.

One of my prettiest recipes from this fragrant fruit is the Winter Lemon Cake. And, since Meyers should be ready to pick in the next few weeks, I thought I’d give you a bit of a head start in what to make out of them, when their picking season begins.

Winter Lemon Cake

Winter Lemon Cake

4-5 small Meyer lemons
1¼ sticks butter, divided
3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1½ cup cake flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
½ cup milk

Slice lemons to make 30 1/8″ slices. Grate 1 tsp. peel from another lemon. Set aside.

Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a 10″ skillet. Brush sides of skillet with a little of the melted butter.
Add the brown sugar, stir till moistened & spread into an even layer.
Arrange the lemon slices to cover the bottom of the skillet. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350°
Combine the flour, baking powder & salt in a bowl; set aside.

Cut the remaining 6 Tbsp butter into a mixing bowl.
Add vanilla & butter; mix well, scraping down  the sides of the bowl, until creamy.
Add sugar & grated lemon peel & beat till light & fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.
Add ½ the flour mixture and beat until blended. Add milk & blend until combined. Add remaining flour mixture; mix till blended.
Spread batter over the lemons in the skillet to cover evenly.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden and the center tests done.
Let the cake stand 5 minutes, then invert the skillet onto a platter. To serve, slice into wedges with a sharp knife.


You may have also noticed that Sockmonkey James is carefully
guarding his bowl of Meyer Lemons.  They’re his favorite.

smk big

Meyers can be used in a multitude of recipes, and certainly anything that calls for a regular lemon. One difference is that if the instructions call for the juice of one lemon, you need to be aware that meyers generally have the liquid of 1½ lemons.

Their naturally sweet, yet pliable skins also make them the perfect lemon if you’re making your own Limoncello. Rather than shredding the peel to avoid the bitter white pith, I lay the skin, shiny side down, and scrape a very sharp knife across the peel (parallel to the cutting board) to remove all traces of white.

Speaking of Lemons

A little redneck humor:

Ron White

Words of wisdom from Phil Dunphy:

lemons and phil

I’d love to hear if you try this recipe, or if you’re a fan of lemons, rednecks, or “Philsosophy”

Please say hello – I promise to reply =0)



17 thoughts on “When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Cake

    1. There may be hope! I’ve checked a site that says that sometimes your Whole Foods stores bring in Meyer Lemons from America.
      I hope so! If not, think about how beautiful this dense cake would be with blood oranges! =0)


  1. Hey, thanks for the history on these beloved beauties! Never knew they were a tangerine and lemon! I may try the cake and make my mom’s Christmas! Shhhh!


    1. Wonderful! I’m mildly obsessed… um, erm… okay, wildly obsessed with them. I’m so glad you’re loving the cake! =0)
      I still haven’t made it with a mix of meyers and blood oranges – I think it would be pretty!


  2. Looks good! Your experience made me laugh, because the same thing happened to me last summer, when I went to the Marshall County Blueberry Festival in Michigan. I kept saying to my boyfriend, “Where the heck are all the blueberries???”


    1. Exactly! There should be a rule 😉
      … Which us why I’m hesitant to attend the National Date Festival I just read about(!)
      Although they *are* boasting livestock… which is exactly what I think of when I imagine Medjool Dates…. Oh Wait….lol


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