A Lovely Lemon Loaf: The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake

Recently when I was in Whole Foods, I noticed the oddest thing. The store had a plentiful supply of large, beautiful Meyer lemons. At the same time, there was not a single true lemon to be found. I took this as a sign that I should make a Meyer lemon dessert. 

A quick Google search later, I decided to try a Saveur recipe for "The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake." This is a straightforward quick bread, drenched in lemon syrup. To make the batter, you beat melted butter and sugar; add eggs; alternately add in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) and milk; mix in lemon extract; and fold in ground almonds and lemon zest. You pour the batter into a pan that has been buttered and coated with fine breadcrumbs. The only breadcrumbs I had on hand were panko crumbs and they were quite large; in retrospect I should have crushed them into fine pieces before pouring them into the pan.
During baking, the cake rose to form a high domed top with attractive deep cracks. While the cake is still hot and in the pan, you pour on a glaze made from sugar and Meyer lemon juice. I had what seemed like a lot of glaze, but all of it was absorbed into the hot cake, even without needing to go to the trouble of poking holes into the cake.

After the glaze soaked in, it was easy to turn the cake out of the pan onto a rack to cool. I could see large panko remnants stuck onto the sides of the loaf. When I sliced the cooled cake, it was apparent that the glaze has soaked into a significant portion of the top and sides of the loaf. This cake was wonderful. It was dense, moist, and had a super lemony flavor, especially in the portions that were damp from the glaze. I couldn't really taste the almonds, but the cake was a big hit with tasters.

I have another similar lemon cake recipe in my repertoire -- a Lemon-Almond Buttermilk Loaf from Bon Appétit that I love and have been making for many years. The buttermilk cake also includes ground almonds and lemon zest, and is brushed with a glaze of lemon juice and sugar. I would need a head-to-head taste test to decide which of these two lemon cakes I like better, because both are wonderful.

I'm not sure if I can say with confidence that this is the best damn Meyer lemon cake, but it a wonderfully bright and lovely lemon loaf.

Recipe: "The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake" from Saveur.

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