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Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

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Layers of thinly sliced Meyer lemons lend a mellow complexity to this otherwise classic coffee cake. Thought to be a cross of a lemon and a mandarin, the fruit has an orange cast, a thin rind, and a heavily perfumed flesh that's valued by chefs.

  • Servings: 12

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2008

Ingredients

For the Streusel

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 ounces ( 3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter

For the Cake

  • 5 Meyer lemons, cut into paper-thin slices, ends discarded
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest (from 4 to 5 lemons)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice

Directions

  1. Make the streusel: Mix together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut butter into the flour mixture until small to medium clumps form. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days).

  2. Make the cake: Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of simmering water for 1 minute. Drain, and repeat. Arrange lemon slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch angel food cake pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest with a mixer on medium speed in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, add eggs, 1 at a time, then the vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream.

  4. Spoon 1/2 of the batter evenly into cake pan. Arrange 1/2 of the lemon slices in a single layer over the batter. Spread remaining batter evenly over the top. Cover with the remaining lemon slices in a single layer. Sprinkle the chilled streusel evenly over the batter.

  5. Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack set over a baking sheet, and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and remove outer ring. Let cool on rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the center tube. Slide 2 wide spatulas between the bottom of the cake and the pan, and lift cake to remove from the center tube. Let cool completely on rack.

  6. Make the glaze: Just before serving, stir together confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Drizzle over cooled cake, letting excess drip down the sides. Let glaze set before slicing, about 5 minutes.

Variations

Martha has also prepared the lemon glaze with just two tablespoons of Meyer lemon juice.

Cook's Notes

Mildly acidic Meyer lemons are available from late fall through early spring. For the rind to soften and sweeten sufficiently during baking or roasting, slice the lemon to near-transparent thinness. A mandoline, a handheld slicer, or a sharp knife and a steady hand will do the trick.

Reviews Add a comment

  • Shifra2015
    26 NOV, 2015
    Recommend to not reduce the amount of salt mentioned in the recipe. Disagree with the comments that say to use less salt as salt helps bring out the flavors in baking and this recipe has the right amount of salt. Definitely add the lemon slices as it adds a nice flavor and balances out the coffee cake. This recipe is a fun twist on a coffee cake. (I made this recipe with yogurt due to not having sour cream and it turned out great. Next time will make sure to stock up on sour cream.)
    Reply
  • MS11494407
    18 SEP, 2015
    You must use a mandolin type slicer in order to get the paper thin slices as the recipe calls for or have impeccable knife skills. I used the mandolin.
    Reply
  • Cammis
    26 MAR, 2015
    Hi! Has anyone frozen this cake? Thanks Cammis
    Reply
  • shirleebee
    1 JAN, 2015
    Very tasty, but I agree with other reviewers that the salt was a little too much. A few tips: 1. Do NOT leave out the lemons! They are what makes this cake interesting, and the provide a nice texture and tartness. Halve the lemons first and remove the seeds before slicing. Thank me later. 2. Don't worry if your streusel seems sandy in texture - the cake will rise "through" it amazingly and the stuff left on the top will cohere. 3. As mentioned above, perhaps cut the salt in the cake to 1 tsp
    Reply
  • val17
    28 SEP, 2014
    This cake is fantastic. It was the first time I was making a coffee cake and I had six guests for brunch. Everybody loved it and in order not to eat it all I gave half to my next door neighbour who enjoyed very much! Highly recommended!
    Reply
  • Adele123
    5 MAY, 2014
    This cake is fabulous! I omitted the sliced lemons but followed the rest of the recipe to the letter. The ingredient ratios are perfect...yes, even the salt. (My husband is a chef and says home cooks are hesitant to use an adequate amount of kosher or sea salt--the only kind you should be using). The streusel topping seemed like a lot but the way it cooks in it's really just right. This cake was beautiful and exceptionally delicious. I served it at a brunch buffet and it was a huge hit!
    Reply
  • adrisirk
    12 JAN, 2014
    This cake is absolutely delicious ! I made it for a brunch today and several people said it was the most delicious cake of any kind they had ever eaten ! It is very flavorful with a real lemon tang, and a crusty streusel and a rich, moist, cake in between ! Definitely will make it again. I also did do a bit less kosher salt than recommended.
    Reply
  • poetees
    10 NOV, 2013
    I made this yesterday and found it to be utterly scrumptious! I did make a few changes: I added less salt (as I was using regular table salt) in both the streusel and the cake; I also baked this in a bundt pan since I didn't have an angel food cake pan, so I ended up placing the streusel as a middle layer in the cake. The last thing I did was omit the meyer lemon slices. It was so good!! Nicely scented and sweet but in the right balance, with the icing. I'm making this again for sure! Yum!
    Reply
  • Sister Moon
    27 OCT, 2013
    Martha Stewart has done it again. This is a wonderful recipe. I have a Meyer lemon tree and am always looking for new lemon recipes. The glaze on top adds a nice tang to the moist case. I have seen some comments about the salt.From what I've read, you should use around half the amount if using table salt instead of coarse salt. I think perhaps the other commenter who said it was too salty may have used table salt without reducing the amount.This is a wonderful coffee cake that I will make again!
    Reply
  • Ceege
    23 AUG, 2012
    I would love to try this coffee cake but getting the cake out of the pan per directions scares me. I think the cake would just fall apart while trying to get spatula's under it and then trying to lift it out. Has anyone done this with luck? Could a cheese cake pan with removable bottom be used instead or do you need that "tube" in the middle of angel pan to help bake the cake in the middle. Would appreciate any help before I try this recipe. Thanks
    Reply