There are times in the year, at least in my head, that scream with a certain fruit or food. For instance, Spring means tons of stone fruit like peaches, Summer means watermelons and tomatoes, Fall means pumpkins and stews, Winter means things like meyer lemons. It’s not like I wait all year for these items to arrive; I’m hit by their arrival with great surprise and delight, even though they arrive almost on schedule.
For instance, I walked out in my backyard a few weeks ago and discovered our meyer lemon tree bent over with bright yellow-orange fruit. When had the tree blossomed? When had the lemons started growing? I had missed the entire process, and yet I would still be rewarded by an entire basket of juicy meyer lemons.
I had no idea what I would make out of these meyer lemons, though plenty of ideas danced in my head. Meyer lemon marmalade! Meyer lemon cord! The wonderful orange yellow rinds were just so beautiful that morning.
Meyer lemons as you may or may not know, are a variety of lemons that are not quite as sour as your standard lemon, and are rounder with more tender skins than your standard lemon too–they are more reminiscent of a cross between lemon and orange, as many scientists believe they are. I’ve spent most of my life in California, where I’m surrounded by meyer lemons; it’s only recently that I’ve learned they’re quite rare in other regions. I wish I could ship a box off to so many of you.
With quite a surplus of meyer lemons, I used the lemons as much as I could: to stuff a roasted chicken, for starters. In the end, I had to start getting creative with how I would use them (short of marmalade, I’m suffering a health condition that makes baking and cooking very complicated for me these days–I have to stick to simple things).
After rifling through quite a number of ideas, I decided to make a mayer lemon buttermilk pudding cake. That’s a long name!
The buttermilk pudding cake is a tangy wonderful soft lemony custard-like “cake.” Like so many cakes, you make the cake in two parts and then add them together. In this case, you whip the egg whites into a fluffy white meringue-like mixture…and the buttermilk and egg yolks into a dense custard. You add the two together, and bake to make a wonderful cake.
You have to hold off a bit–no bites of this warm cake! Let it cool, then stick it in the refrigerator to cool for a few hours. It’s only after the cake is entirely cooled that you can serve it with some whipping cream and fruit.
Above, you see the cake prepared with mixed berries. Below, I served it with a rind of lemon. (I prefer the berries, but both were delicious).
I hope you get ahold of some meyer lemons and enjoy a winter treat! Lemons are so refreshing, they can really brighten any wintry day.
A little note: if you so desire, you can make these into individual sized cakes, too.
Recipe follows after the jump…
MEYER LEMON BUTTERMILK PUDDING CAKE
(adapted from an epicurious recipe)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 tsp grated Meyer lemon zest
1/4 cup all purpose flour plus 3-4 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg whites
Assorted fresh berries
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Blend buttermilk, 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, flour, butter, and salt in blender until smooth. Transfer buttermilk mixture to medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Gently fold buttermilk mixture into whites in 3 additions (batter will be runny).
Put a bunch of water to boil.
Pour batter into prepared dish. Place dish in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of dish. Bake until entire top is evenly browned and cake moves very slightly in center but feels slightly springy to touch, about 45 minutes. Remove dish from roasting pan.
Cool cake completely in baking dish on rack. Refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 6 hours. Spoon pudding cake out into shallow bowls. Pour cream around cake. Top with berries.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.