Florida is well known for its citrus fruit and we have wonderful oranges and grapefruits throughout the winter, but as February rolls into March each year, brightly colored Meyer lemons begin to appear in our local grocery stores. Meyer lemons are more orange in color, and are more spherical and smoother than regular lemons. They are also slightly sweeter and less sharp in flavor making them ideal for baked goods. It is thought that the Meyer lemon is a hybrid of a lemon and a mandarin orange, and it has been credited to the agriculturalist Frank Meyer who found the plant in Peking, China in the early 20th century. Meyer lemons and regular lemons can be used much in the same way such as brightening the flavor of dishes, but be careful if substituting Meyer lemons for regular ones equally in baked good recipes, as Meyer lemons yield more juice. I often buy Meyer lemons to use in my baked goods when they are available as I really enjoy the vibrant flavor. When they first appeared in my local grocery store, I decided to use them in an olive oil cake that I adapted from Leite’s Culinaria recipe for Orange Olive Oil Cake from the cookbook The Portuguese Table.
This is a really lovely flavored, moist cake that would be fine with a simple dusting of powdered sugar to finish it off, but I decided instead to glaze it with a thin lemon glaze to enhance the lemon flavor. I am not one that finds heavy glazes or icing appealing and I prefer to keep cakes like this one fairly plain. The directions in the recipe do encourage you to use a light colored Bundt pan as darker ones may turn the exterior of the cake darker, and cause sticking. As for the oil, I find extra virgin olive oil to be a bit strong in flavor for baked goods, so I prefer to use an Pompeian Extra Light Olive Oil. Fiori di Sicilia is one of my favorite extract to use in baking from the King Arthur Flour company. It is a combination of citrus and vanilla with a light flowery flavor. If Meyer lemons are not available, feel free to use regular lemons in their place though you may need more than the 6 I’ve indicated.
Deborah Mele 2013
- 6 Meyer Lemons Plus 1 For Glaze
- 3 1/2 Cups All-purpose flour
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoons Fine Salt
- 5 Large Eggs
- 3 Cups Granulated sugar
- 1/2 Teaspoon of Fiori di Sicilia Extract (or 1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Extract)
- 1 1/2 Cups Mild Olive Oil
- Powdered Sugar or
- Lemon Glaze Made from Mixing 4 to 5 Teaspoons Lemon Juice with 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray a 12-cup Bundt can liberally with baking spray.
- Zest 4 of the lemons, then squeeze all 6. You’ll need 1 1/2 cups juice.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In another bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until blended, about 2 minutes.
- Add the sugar and extract, and beat until pale in color and thick, about 4 minutes.
- Add the juice and zest, and beat just until blended.
- Alternate adding 1/3 the oil and flour into the egg mixture beating between each addition until mixed and you’ve used all the oil and flour.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 60 to 65 minutes. (If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil.)
- Transfer cake to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes, then use a knife to carefully run around the edges between the cake and the pan.
- Turn the pan until a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
- Either dust the cake with powdered sugar, or drizzle with the glaze.