Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake


Layers of thinly sliced Meyer lemons lend a mellow complexity to this otherwise classic dessert. 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.



  • 1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup packed light-brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 ½ sticks (¾ cup) cold unsalted butter


  • 5 Meyer lemons, cut into paper-thin slices, ends discarded; plus 3 tablespoons finely grated zest (from 4 to 5 lemons)

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup sour cream


  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice


  1. 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. Cake: In a large skillet of simmering water, cook lemon slices 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. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Beat in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until combined after each addition.

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

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

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

    meyer lemon coffee cake on pink stand
    Mike Krautter

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.

Cake can be stored at room temperature up to 3 days. The lemon flavor will intensify with time.

Related Articles