Meyer Lemon Cornmeal Cake

A week ago I found something at the market (or FreshDirect, which is often “the market” in New York City) I had never bought before: Meyer lemons.  Over the years I’ve had a few desserts flavored with Meyer lemons but have never used them myself.  For those of you who don’t know, Meyer lemons are a cousin of the lemons we use every day; they are a little smaller, a little rounder, with a slightly more orange color, making them a beautiful canary yellow.  And the taste?  Sort of a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange.  While the taste is similar to a lemon, Meyer lemons are not as tart or acidic as lemons.  You can see how Meyers measure up next to a typical large lemon below:

Meyer Lemon Recipes

The Meyer lemons sat in my fridge for a week before I decided what to do with them – make a cake!  I saw a beautiful lemon cake on the lovely blog Lemons and Anchovies, and used it as my inspiration.  As much of a chocoholic as I am, I love lemon desserts.  Even my last birthday cake was a Lemon and Blueberry Layer Cake.  This cake turned out lovely – super moist and not too sweet, with a strong lemony flavor that was also mellowed by the use of the Meyers.  The cornmeal adds a little bit of texture, but this definitely doesn’t taste like cornbread; the cake has a light and delicate crumb.  It’s still citrus season, so I say take advantage and whip up this cake, especially if you have a special occasion coming up.

I tried to lighten up the recipe a bit, but who are we kidding?  This isn’t the most diet-friendly of desserts.  Serve up in small slices and you’ll be fine!

One year ago: Lemon Chicken + Roasted Asparagus

Meyer Lemon Cornmeal Cake

Recipe by Pâte à Chew; inspired by Lemon and Anchovies

If you use regular lemons in this recipe, up the sugar in the cake to 2 cups, from 1 3/4 cups, as the regular lemons will make the cake more tart.

You can omit the ground almonds and add an extra 1/2 cup all-purpose flour to the recipe instead.

Makes 12-16 servings

Total time: 2 hours


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons grated Meyer lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

For the syrup

1/2 cup Meyer lemon or lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

For the glaze

2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4-1/3 cup Meyer lemon or lemon juice

1.  Heat oven to 325°F.  Prepare a 10-cup decorative tube pan or a 12-cup Bundt pan by coated with baking spray (I always use Pam for Baking).  In a food processor, grind the almonds until very fine, about 30 seconds, and set aside.  Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Combine buttermilk and lemon juice in another bowl and set aside.

2.  In a separate bowl beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest with a standing mixer or hand mixer set at medium speed until the batter is light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes.  Add lemon extract (if using), then beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated into the batter after each addition.  Put the mixer to low, and mix in the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in 3 additions until the batter is smooth, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Scrap down the bowl with a spatula at least once during the addition of the dry ingredients and wet ingredients.  Gently fold in ground almonds.  Scrape into prepared pan; level top with spatula.

3.  Bake 55 to 65 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan on wire rack 5 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup: Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.  When the cake is done, allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Spoon syrup all over hot cake until absorbed.  It helps to take a toothpick or knife and make small holes in the cake before adding the syrup.  Cool completely.

5.  Make the glaze:  Stir confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth.  Start with 1/4 cup lemon juice, adding a little more if you think the icing is too thick.  Remove the cake from the pan and transfer cake to a serving plate and cover. Pour glaze over top of cake; it will slowly make its way down to the bottom of the cake.  Let cake rest several hours, or overnight, before serving.  Store cake covered at room temperature up to 4 days.  Cut into thin slices to serve.

30 thoughts on “Meyer Lemon Cornmeal Cake

  1. Ugh I don’t know what’s going on my email but I try to leave a comment & it tells me I need to sign in with wordpress. Annnyywaayy! What I was trying to say before was that — I always liked Meyer Lemon & not so much regular lemon flavored desserts & now I know why! Ha! This sounds incredible, I bet cornmeal & meyer lemon go perfectly together & I’m really loving the glaze on top…mmm!

  2. LOOOVE meyer lemons, and this cake looks fantastic :) cornmeal addition sounds interesting, too! I’ve been enjoying throwing a little bit of semolina or cornmeal into cakes lately

  3. I am so hooked on Meyer lemons, I actually will not use regular lemons anymore! Because of that I could not pass up this recipe-yum! Also, I do favor bundt lemon cakes over the others.. No doubt you have a winner here. Your pictures are fabulous!

  4. Beautiful cake…and your glaze dripped so perfectly!!! I need to snatch up some Meyer lemons when I see them again…my hubby adores lemon desserts and I’d love to make this for him :)

  5. I really need to get my hands on some Meyer lemons and try this recipe! It looks soo good plus lemons and almonds sounds like a brilliant combination!

  6. I’m a sucker for all things Meyer lemon… as much as I love regular lemons, I love Meyer lemons a million times more. :) Sadly, I think I might be too late in the season to get my hands on some Meyers now, so I’ll just have to live vicariously through this post and remember it for next year’s season!

  7. I adore cornmeal and polenta right now (as you can see in my latest post) so it comes to no surprise that I am simply in love with this cake – like my cookies in cake form 😀

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  8. I love lemon and chocolate just like you, and this cake looks fabulous. It really does look moist and with the added lemony syrup and glaze mmm…even better. I grew up in So. Cal. with a meyer lemon tree in the backyard, oh how I wish I still lived there with that tree but my parents still do so I usually get the use of it during the summer when there are a few lemons hanging on :) Thanks for the recipe.

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