11 Apr Meyer Lemon Upside-Down Cake
Earlier this week I shared this recipe for Spiced Yogurt Molasses Bread that I made for a Game of Thrones watch party.
It turned out beautifully.
But before I knew that, I was worried it was going to be, well, shitty. And when you’re worried about shitty bread, it’s good to have back-up plan.
My back-up plan is always cake.
[Note: This also applies to life.]
It’s ‘common knowledge’ among Game of Thrones fans that Sansa Stark is quite sweet on lemon cakes. This little factoid is only mentioned in passing in the HBO series, but it’s my understanding that it’s made quite clear in the books. So much so that when you Google Game of Thrones recipes, you will find more lemon cake recipes than anything else.
That’s right, for those of you who thought GoT was just about tits and dragons – you were pretty much right – but there’s also food!
And while Sansa tends to get on my last nerve with her incessant naïveté and all her yes, my lord this and yes, my lord that, I really like lemon cake.
So, a Meyer Lemon Upside-Down Cake was decided on. Mostly for me, but also for you, Sansa. Now please, try smiling.
The lemon cakes of Westeros are ‘traditionally’ mini-cakes (can you even call a fictional cake traditional?), but, for some reason, I imagined myself having to go buy a dozen little ramekins to pull that off – and I definitely don’t have that kind of available cabinet space. Now that I think about, I probably could have just used a muffin pan, but really, my brain only operates at half capacity on most weekends so making a full-sized cake seemed like the only solution.
Not that I regret it. Because this cake was fantastic.
And even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan (if that’s the case, you’re probably really sick of hearing my talk about it this week) this cake is the perfect excuse to splurge on a few Meyer lemons before they go out of season. They’re sweet enough to eat like an orange but still acidic enough to satisfy those seeking that tangy freshness that makes lemon desserts so addicting.
Whipped egg whites are folded into the batter at the very end of the prep process, giving this cake a light, spongy texture that’s sturdy enough to stand up to the lemony, caramelized brown sugar top (or is it bottom)?
My absolute favorite thing about this cake though, was that the Meyer lemons caramelize with the brown sugar during the baking process, quasi-candying the rinds and turning them into chewy, bittersweet lemony-sour pieces of crack.
Which I guess would technically be crack rock, but hey, I’m no expert. I only know what I learned from Idris Elba on The Wire. Either way, habit-forming. I found myself twitching and picking them off the top of the cake to eat while nobody was watching.
On a final note, this cake was adapted from Food & Wine and can be made with any fruit you’d like!
Now go feast like a Lannister! XO, Katie
- 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 Meyer lemons, sliced paper-thin crosswise, seeds discarded
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 tsp Meyer lemon zest
- 2 tsp Meyer lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Set a 9-inch nonstick cake pan over moderate heat. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter and stir in the brown sugar until dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Arrange the lemon slices in the melted brown sugar.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, lemon zest & lemon juice then add the egg yolks, one at a time.
- At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the milk.
- In a stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at high speed until firm peaks form. Fold one-third of the beaten whites into the batter, then fold in the rest.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then invert it onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.