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The "clementine cake" with Meyer lemons (report)

Last year around this time Nigella Lawson's recipe for clementine cake ( http://nigella.com/recipes/recipe.asp... ) was a hot topic on this board. At the time, it was suggested that it could also be made with Meyer lemons, but I don't remember if anyone tried it and reported back.

So I made one using Meyer lemons (my Mom has more than she knows what to do with on her bush) for my Hanukkah dinner party tonight (it's originally a Jewish recipe that can be made for Passover since it has no flour) and it was a big hit. As Nigella suggested, I increased the sugar slightly and made a lemon juice/powdered sugar glaze to pour over top, and it was delicious -- very moist and lemony. All my guests had seconds!

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  1. Thanks! That sounds like a use for Meyer lemons I might actually enjoy. It's just not tart for me--I know, not the point of the Meyer.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Pei

      I agree. For example, I hate Meyer lemon lemonade -- they just don't have enough acid to get the right sweet-tart balance. I think generally that Meyer lemons are best in recipes that are fairly high in fat, since the fat seems to enhance the special floral qualities of the Meyer lemon and you can get away with using less sugar, which makes sweet-tart balance easier to achieve.

      Since this recipe uses the whole fruit, it has a well-rounded flavor (and actually, I used part Meyer lemon juice and part "regular" lemon juice for the glaze).

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Meyer lemons make wonderful lemonade; just use less simple syrup.

        1. re: pikawicca

          Not to my taste -- lessening the syrup doesn't change the fact that the acid "bite" just isn't there.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            What about floating a slice of Eureka lemon in your 'ade?

            1. re: pikawicca

              But I think Ruth and I would agree that it just seems so silly to buy Meyers, which are so much more expensive, and then try to doctor the lemonade when we would just prefer good old-fashioned cheap Eureka lemonade in the first place.

              One of my favorite night time teas is just hot water, clover honey, and half a Eureka lemon. I tried it with a meyer once, and even with half the water and twice the amount of lemon as usual, there just wasn't any flavor to me. It smelled nice, but didn't taste how I wanted it to.

              My friend, on the other hand, has super sensitive teeth and can't even drink OJ. I told her to try Meyers some time.

              1. re: Pei

                I'm not suggesting that you "doctor" your lemonade. In my opinion, the wonderful perfume and taste of the Meyer lemon warrants special accomodation. Eurekas lack the complex flavor profile of the Meyer, but we've all gotten used to their one-dimensional taste. Cut into a Meyer lemon, inhale, then tell me that a Eureka is superior.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  Believe me, I've done it. I've even sliced both Meyers and Eurekas into thin rounds (with skins on) and eaten them as is. It may sound nuts to you, but I like the Eurekas. Maybe you're right about getting used to what we all grew up with, but to me a Meyer tastes like exactly what it is: an orange/lemon hybrid.

                  I definitely agree that Meyers smell better. But to me, lemonade is all about that mouth-puckering tang. I know it's personal preference. Ruth's use of Meyers in the Clementine cake appeals to me because it seems like a much better way to bring out the full spectrum of aromas in a Meyer than cold water and sugar.

                2. re: Pei

                  Well, I hardly ever buy lemons -- I have a Eureka tree (and a young Meyer bush that's crop isn't ripe yet), and both my Mom and my sister have Meyer bushes. But I agree nonetheless.

                  1. re: Pei

                    Some of us never have to buy Meyers...they grow, crop after crop, all year long here in Oakland, CA. I like to eat them like fruit, all of them, including pith and skin.

                    I like "normal" lemons as well, but Meyers are great - and very good as preserved lemons.

        2. Wow! Great post, Ruth. My tree is just filled with lemons right now and I was looking for a recipe for gluten-allergic folks (2 of the 9 dinner guests on Monday).

          I'm also thinking of making it smaller than Nigella's recipe. I think I could cut ingreds in half, eh?

          2 Replies
          1. re: oakjoan

            I think you could, but I wouldn't. It doesn't make a very large cake -- it goes in an 8-inch springform -- and my dinner party of five ate most of it. Plus, it keeps well, so any leftovers will be good for several days. I bet it freezes well, too.

            Oh, one other note -- there was a lot of discussion last year about what to use for the ground almonds, since the recipe doesn't specify. I've made it using both blanched and unblanched almonds, and they're both good, but the blanched almonds give it a finer, lighter, appearance and texture. If you don't mind a more rustic product, then the almond meal from Trader Joe's works just fine.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Yeah, I've made it about 10 times and have used everything from my own ground blanched almonds to the almond meal they sell at Berkeley Bowl.

              I am going to make a smaller version, as my idea for dessert (that's all I'm bringing to our holiday dinner) is to make several different desserts (the gluten-allergics can eat the cake). I'm also making a dessert I found somewhere recently (SF Chron? NYT? LAT? for chocolate panna cotta with orange caramel sauce. Haven't decided what the other(s) is/are. Depends on how much steam I've got left.

          2. Oh, this sounds fantastic! My Mom also has a "Hanukkah" Meyer lemon bush - a bush that keeps on giving! I think I might try this recipe out for the holidays. Thanks!

            1. I've made the cake with Eureka lemons and with oranges (both times increasing the sugar to 1-1/2 cups. Both were popular.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Timowitz

                Oops! I increased the sugar to 1-1/4 cups (from 1-1/8) for each recipe. Rereading the recipe at www.nigella.com, however, I'm not sure whether she suggests increasing the amount of sugar for either fruit or only for lemons.

              2. Almonds, eggs, and Meyer Lemons. Sounds too good.