Meyer Lemon Brown Butter Cake

Meyer Lemon Brown Butter Cake

I’ve been seriously laid up. Last month was extremely busy for me and the whole time I kept thinking…I almost wouldn’t mind being sick, if it would allow me to lay around the house for a while. Uh, wrong. Insert a head full of snot, an itchy throat, and sore abdominal muscles from coughing so much, and I’d be happy to swap for the alternative.

The worst part about being sick is that just because I’m sick, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world stops. And although I know that I should be in bed, drinking tea, and being generally lazy, I’m having a hard time with it; mostly because of things like a basket full of meyer lemons and a half pound of Tahitian vanilla beans showing up at my door. Yeah! Can you believe it?! I’ve got friends in high places. Well maybe not, but I do have friends with fruit trees and vanilla bean connections…so I’ve got that going for me.

While the vanilla beans can wait until I’m feeling a little better, the meyer lemons could not. I’ve been wanting to make a brown butter cake for quite some time now, and I thought the sweet-tartness of these particular lemons was the perfect compliment. In my opinion, often times lemon desserts are far too sweet, because the person making the dessert is perhaps trying to cover up what makes a lemon so, uh, lemony…the sourness. The nuttiness of the brown butter in this cake coupled with the distinct flavor of meyer lemons, is the perfect combination for a not too sweet, moist little gem of a cake. Let’s get started.

The inspiration for this recipe came from Susan G. Purdy’s book A Piece of Cake , which very well may be the best $2 purchase I’ve ever made. I first discovered this book when my friend Sharon, an amazing pastry chef, served up a blueberry molasses cake that she had found amongst the hundreds of cake recipes that Ms. Purdy’s friends were kind enough to share with her for the writing of this book. It was so delicious, I wanted to see the book. She too had bought the now out-of-print book for about $2. Run my friends, don’t walk, to your computers to see if Amazon still carries this little treasure.

I’ve made the Lemon Tea Cake many times, and it has never dissapointed. Almost everyone that tried it said it reminded them of something their grandma used to make. Perfect! That’s what I was going for. I like to bake this in 6 mini bundt cake pans. (I got mine at Michael’s in the baking section.)After they’re baked, and still hot, they’re glazed with a hot mixture of sugar, lemon juice and a ton of zest. Then they’re finshed with a powdered sugar and lemon glaze. These glazes are responsible for the almost donut like texture of these little cakes.

Brown Butter Meyer Lemon Cake

Adapted from A Piece of Cake, By Susan G. Purdy

  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted (4 oz)
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (7 oz)
  • 1 1/2 cup cake flour (6 1/4 oz)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp (3 1/4 oz) butter* see note about brown butter
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 tsp meyer lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp meyer lemon juice
  • 7 Tbsp buttermilk, room temperature

Hot Lemon Glaze

  1. 1/3 cup (2 1/4 oz) sugar
  2. 1 Tbsp meyer lemon zest
  3. 5 Tbsp meyer lemon juice

Lemon Icing

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp almmond extract

*To brown the butter: Begin with 5 oz (1 stick + 1 Tbsp) of butter. On medium heat, cook butter until all of the milk solids have fallen to the bottom of the pan and caramelized, producing a medium brown, nutty butter. Strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. You should now have about 6 Tbsp butter. Chill until the butter is about room temperature. If it gets too cold let it sit out for a couple minutes.

For the cake:

Butter and flour the mini bundt pans or a 9×5 loaf pan.

Chop nuts in a food proccessor with 3 Tbsp of the sugar until very fine. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the brown butter and remaining sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the lemon juice and zest. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, alternatley add the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix well, add nuts and finish by hand.

Divide evenly amongst the prepared pans and bake 35 minutes for mini bundts or 45 minutes for 9×5. Check with a cake tester.

For the glaze:

Heat together the juice, zest, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Reheat before using.

As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, invert them onto a wire rack. Reheat the glaze, and drizzle over the tops of the cakes. Wait a second for the glaze to penatrate, then repeat, using all of the glaze.

For the lemon icing:

Stir together lemon juice and powdered sugar. While the cakes are still slightly warm, drizzle a little icng on each cake.

To freeze the cakes, wait until they are completly cool and wrap them in plastic wrap.

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