Friday, March 5, 2010

I Heart Meyer Lemons

Have you ever tasted or cooked with a Meyer lemon?  If so, then you are probably like me and snap them up whenever they're available (which isn't often enough).  If you haven't, keep an eye out for them and grab a few when you have the chance.  You won't be disappointed.

What is a Meyer lemon exactly?  Well, it looks like a regular lemon, except that it's more orange in color and has a smooth, thin skin.  It originated in China and is probably a cross between a lemon and a mandarin or orange.  You can read more about it here:

What I like about it is the taste.  It's less acidic than a regular lemon, sweeter and very aromatic.  It's wonderful to cook or bake with and it lends itself well to making incredible desserts.  No wonder why, when I stumbled across them at Whole Paycheck Foods the other day, I snatched up a bagful of them right on the spot, without any idea as to what I was going to do with them.

And then I remembered a friend's birthday was coming up.

I once made an orange semolina cake that I'd drizzled with orange syrup.  "Hmm," I thought.  "Maybe that could work with Meyer lemons."  I decided that the earthiness of the semolina might overpower the sublety of the lemons however, so maybe not.  Instead, I settled on a sour cream poundcake, figuring that the tanginess of the sour cream might compensate for the lack of acidity of the Meyer lemon.  And because you can never have too much of a good thing, I decided to infuse the cake with Meyer lemon syrup and garnish it with candied Meyer lemon peel.

Here's what I came up with:

This is what it looks like when I sit down to write a recipe.  Not pretty.
Hope I can decipher and write it out for you without mistakes!

MEYER LEMON POUND CAKE  (with Meyer Lemon Syrup and Candied Peel)

For the cake:
3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt (I used Kosher)
6 eggs, room temperature
4 T. Meyer lemon zest (about 4 lemons)
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice, strained (from the 4 lemons above)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.  Butter and flour a tube (angel food cake) pan.  Sift together flour and baking soda; set aside.

Cream butter, sugar and salt in electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes, scraping down bowl occasionally.  Turn mixer to low and beat in eggs, one at a time.  Scrape bowl, increase speed to medium and blend well.  Add lemon zest and lemon juice and combine well on medium-low speed.

Add vanilla extract and sour cream.  Mix on medium-low speed until combined.  Mixture will look curdled.

Add flour mixture in two batches, combining briefly on low speed until just combined.  Finish blending by hand, using a spatula or wooden spoon.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Smooth evenly and run a knife through batter in a circle, about 1-inch from the center tube.  Rap pan sharply on countertop once, then place in preheated oven.

Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes.  If cakes tester comes out clean, cake is done.  If not, continue baking until tester comes out clean (my cake took 1 hour 45 minutes).  Remove to a rack and cool 20 minutes.  Run a spatuala around sides of pan to loosen and remove that part of the pan (not the bottom portion with the tube).  Allow cake to cool for another 45-60 minutes then remove bottom portion of pan.  Place on a cake round set over a rack with a pan underneath to catch syrup.  Use a skewer to poke holes all over top of cake.

Slowly spoon warm syrup all over cake, allowing it to be absorbed into cake.  Garnish with candied lemon peel.

For the Syrup and Candied Zest:
2 Meyer lemons
3/4 cup granulated sugar plus more for coating

Use a vegetable peeler to remove zest from lemons in long strips.  Set aside.  Juice lemons, strain and measure then add water to equal 1 cup.  Place in a saucepan and add the 3/4 cup sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

When sugar is dissolved, add the reserved lemon strips and let cook for 1 minute.  Remove to a rack and let dry (they will be sticky).  Reserve the syrup for basting the cooled cake.

When strips have cooled, dredge in granulated sugar to completely coat.  Place on rack to dry again, then slice crosswise into thin slivers. Coat again in sugar and let dry.  Use to garnish cake.

Serves 12-16. 

Looks pretty good!
Too bad I gave it away and didn't get to eat any of it. 
I consumed enough of the batter and crumbs from the pan to vouch for it though!

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