Thursday, March 10, 2011

Brazen Proclamations: The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake

Sometimes the name of a recipe can make all the difference in its appeal. Beyond just listing tasty components like chocolate, cardamom, anchovies, lavender, or fresh fennel (preferably not all together), I am likely to dog-ear a recipe if its name includes something like "The Cake That Got Me Fired" or "The Winning-Hearts-and-Minds Cake".


Around the time that I discovered Saveur magazine (thanks to my culinary-savvy uncle), I stumbled across the recipe on its website for "The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake." Such a brazen proclamation caught my full attention and has held it for at least two years.

Finally, I got around to making the recipe last week when I decided to veer off my grocery list (a frequent occurrence, actually). Too evocative of the coming spring season to pass by, I scooped up six meyer lemons and have been squeezing them into pasta and zesting them into vinaigrettes, but not before I set aside three for this set purpose.

Even though my experience in lemon cakes is limited, my results from this cake recipe were indeed damn good. The crumb was tight and moist. The taste was pure and gentle with fresh lemony tang around the golden crusted edges. I probably could have achieved more lemon flavor throughout but did not want to purchase lemon extract, since it is so rarely called for in recipes I encounter. Zesting an extra lemon ensured sufficient flavor, and I would use the same method all over again.


The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake

Adapted from Saveur

Serves 8-10

I did not use the pan the original recipe specified (a light-colored metal loaf versus a dark one). Because of this, my cake did brown to a degree, but in no way that altered its taste. I simply needed to slip foil over it about twenty minutes into the baking process. Also worth noting before getting started, this cake improves with some sitting time, so try to bake it well enough ahead of serving. I allowed twelve hours from baking to slicing, but twenty-four is recommended.

8 Tbsp. melted butter, plus more for pan
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. fine salt
2 eggs, at room temp
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temp
1/2 cup almond meal
Zest of 3 meyer lemons
Juice of 2 meyer lemons

Heat oven to 350°. Butter a loaf pan measuring 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 3/4" and, for extra security, you may tuck in a square of parchment paper to line the long sides for easy removal.

Melt butter and allow it to cool slightly as you sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Combine butter and 1 cup of sugar in the large bowl of a standing mixer (or large bowl with electric hand beaters within reach). Mix until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just long enough to incorporate.

Next, alternate additions of the flour mixture and milk: on low speed, add a third of each batch at a time, beginning and ending with the flour.

Using a broad spatula, scrape down sides of bowl and gently fold in the lemon zest and almond meal to complete a sunshiny yellow fluid batter. Turn it into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 60 minutes. (Depending on the tint of your pan, it may start to brown around 20 minutes. If so, cover with foil). Once a toothpick comes out of the center clean, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

In the last ten minutes of baking your cake, prepare the glaze: in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Stir frequently until dissolved but not boiling.

As soon as the cake is out of the oven, and while the glaze is still hot, begin to brush it over the slopping surface of the cake. Patiently brush layer over layer until all the liquid has been absorbed. At this point, turn the cake out of its pan and allow it to cool upright on the cooling rack. When it has reached room temperature (or close to), wrap well in plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours.


Kate said...

I would agree that a bold name always catches my attention. This one certainly has, well the name and your solid recommendation. I do wholeheartedly trust your palette, my dear. Miss you heaps!

Rachael said...

Lemon! I love that flavor. I guess I didn't stop by at the right time, to get a taste. Smile.
Lemon is such a spring flavor as well to me. And we are all looking forward to spring, aren't we?

Lael said...

Kate: How sweet to hear your voice on this blog! I miss you too.

Rachael: You would have liked this cake a lot. And, oh, I hope spring hurries up and gets here FAST!