Monday, March 21, 2011

meyer lemon coffee cake

©2011, Monika Roe

Rain. Clouds. Grey. Dreary.

That was this weekend in a nutshell. However, the rain couldn't stop the sunshine in my kitchen created by a bag of Meyer lemons from a generous friend's tree! Hmmm... how to use them? 

Looking online, I was disappointed by the number recipes that claimed to be lemony but didn't really require much of the fruit at all. The Best Damn Lemon Cake from Saveur only called for the zest and juice of 2 lemons and used lemon extract to boot. PassI was looking for a recipe that would pack at least 5 or 6 lemons into it.

Then I came across the Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake recipe that appeared in last month's Martha Stewart Living Magazine. It calls for 5 whole lemons sliced paper-thin and 3 tablespoons of lemon zest and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. BINGO!

I have a love hate relationship with Martha Stewart's recipes. More often than not I find them incredibly labor intensive and sometimes the blood, sweat and tears poured into her recipes yields an outcome that is only "meh". But when her recipes hit, they knock it out of the park! I still use one of her macaroni and cheese recipes I found 10 years ago when I really want to wow people.

So I made this cake. The only problem I ran into was making the streusel topping. Ugh. I have a streusel phobia. For some reason my streusel attempts always fail! It's one of those things that I haven't even come close to mastering, like cooking rice. I can't cook rice either. One of these days I'm going to get serious about streusel and confront it head on. For now, I just puzzle over how the folks at MSL expect the streusel part of this recipe to work. It's a mystery, people.

It took a long time to make this cake. More time than usual because I was playing around with taking photos of the process. My man is a photographer and I have been dying for him to teach me how to take decent food photos. See some of my beginning photos below!

As soon as this cake was tucked into the oven it filled the house with a beautiful lemony warmness as it baked. Everything is right in the world when something is baking in the oven! The glaze made from confectioner's sugar and fresh lemon juice was simple but absolutely delicious and added the sweetness that I think this cake lacks. I would like it to be a touch sweeter, but maybe if I had made a successful streusel that would have solved the problem!

Will I make this recipe again? Probably not, I wasn't wowed by it, but it did use up almost all of my lemons and judging by how much cake is left on the cake plate (a couple of slices after friends and family claimed their shares) I still consider it a success and the perfect antidote for a rainy weekend!

This recipe uses the Blogger Secret Ingredient of lemons, hosted this week by Girlichef!


  1. I love your food photos! I've been meaning to try to take some decent ones on the rare occasions that I cook too, but it can be tricky.
    Just wondering, do you have a link to that mac n cheese recipie?

    p.s. I love all your designs! I'm a designer mystlf and stumbled on your blog from Illustration Friday. I'm big into vector stuff and all your work is amazing!

  2. Hi Camille! I finally found the right mac & cheese recipe! I updated the post to include the link. Here it is again:

    The nutmeg and cayenne pepper are what I think makes the taste so complex. My advice is to make this when you have someone there to help clean up afterwards. I always make quite a mess with this recipe!


  3. Thanks so much!
    One more quick question: Do you use a tablet when you illustrate, or just a mouse?

  4. I would love a slice of lemon sun in my life right now ;) This sounds so great...with or without that pesky streusel. I think your photos looks great and I'm in awe of your illustration. Thanks so much for sharing this with BSI:Lemons this week =)

  5. I agree with you on Martha....I often wonder if they actually MAKE what they's hit or miss. Good to know when its a miss before you put all that work into it.

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  6. Wow I love the color and the cake look so delicious!!

  7. Such an interesting cake with the lemons layered in it. Your pictures are beautiful!