Any self-respecting Berkeley foodie knows the value of Meyer lemons from tasting Meyer lemon ice cream or cheese at the local farmer’s market. They are sweeter and more flavorful than plain old lemons, and ripen to a lovely orange-yellow. Back in the 50’s, when my parents first planted a Meyer lemon tree in their suburban backyard, they had no idea how trendy this fruit would become.
My mother made a delectable Meyer lemon bread, which is moist and fragrant with Meyer lemon juice and peel. It was a family favorite, and brings me back memories of crawling underneath our lemon tree to nab the ripest ones in the thorny center. I would just lie there, inhaling the delicate scent of lemons. I finally brought the bowl, heavy with fruit, to my mom. She would send me and my sister around to our favorite neighbors to give them lemons.
I now own my own dwarf Meyer lemon tree and make this recipe for my family and friends. I added a 1/2 tsp ginger powder to complement the lemon.
This recipe also works for cupcakes, but can be too sweet if you use a high sugar frosting. Try a cream cheese lemon frosting that’s not too sweet. But you really don’t need to frost it at all. The lemon syrup is delicious as is.
I also make a Meyer lemon blossom tea (recipe below.) A hot cup goes perfect with the cake.
I am going to visit my dear 90 year-old mother on Sunday and bring her a slice of Meyer lemon bread and some tea.
Meyer Lemon Bread
makes one loaf, cake or dozen cupcakes
Set oven for 350· Generously grease a 5×9 loaf pan or 8 x 8 cake pan with butter. Or use 12 cupcake holders.
Ingredients (that is my mom’s original retro flour canister!)
½ cup butter (my mom used margarine back in the day) at room temperature, plus at least a teaspoon for greasing the pan
½ cup milk
1 tsp Meyer lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 eggs at room temperature, slightly beaten
1 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup chopped nuts
Grated zest of one large or 2 small Meyer lemons (yellow part only)
Juice of one large or 2 small Meyer lemons
2 Tb sugar
Add lemon juice to milk. This will make the milk curdle for a more delicate crumb.
Cream butter with 1 cup sugar. Mix in eggs and scrape bowl and mix again.
Sift flour with baking powder, ginger powder and salt. With mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture. Mix in the nuts and lemon zest.
Bake the loaf for one hour. Cupcakes should take approx 20 minutes. While it is baking, juice the lemon and stir it with 2 Tb sugar. When you remove cake from the oven, poke a bunch of holes in the top with a fork. Pour in lemon syrup. Spread a few teaspoons of what’s left on the top like a glaze. Enjoy!
My Meyer lemon blossom tea has a delicate natural sweetness. I’ve added a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh mint and lavender for a complex taste. Try the different combinations. You won’t need much sweetener, unlike regular lemonade. Serve it iced with your picnic.
lemon blossom tea
Lemon blossoms are fragrant and sweet. If you don’t use too much lemon juice, you won’t need much sweetener.
Pick about 10 lemon blossoms and buds and rinse. Steep in hot water for at least half an hour. Add a squirt of lemon juice and agave nectar or honey to taste. The longer you steep it, the more flavorful. Serve hot or iced.
Lemon blossom – mint tea
Prepare as above with 2 sprigs of mint per glass.
Lemon blossom-lavender tea
Prepare lemon blossom tea adding 2 lavender blossoms. Don’t steep this tea too long or the lavender will overpower the other herbs.