Meyer Lemon Upside-Down Cake



For a simple but beautiful dessert, upside-down cakes are always a favorite. This Meyer Lemon Upside Down cake, made for our citrus-themed dinner, comes from a Food & Wine magazine recipe and is deceptively simple—but I do have some tips.

First, the recipe…


Recipe from Cal Peternell, Food & Wine 


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 thin-skinned lemons, sliced paper-thin crosswise, seeds discarded
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°. Set a 9-inch nonstick cake pan over moderate heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and when it is melted, 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 a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and 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 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

My notes: 

  • It’s important to find thin-skinned lemons, for ease of cutting into the cake.
  • Use more brown sugar in the topping if you are using a variety other than Meyer to compensate for tartness. (I have a sweet tooth, so I might recommend adding more regardless.)
  • Folding in the beaten egg whites makes for a nice, delicate cake—so delicate, in fact, that it can easily fall in the middle under the weight of the fruit. You’ll want to serve as soon as possible. (Or, perhaps, you could do without separating the eggs.)
  • You’ll also want to serve this immediately because it’s especially beautiful just after it has been plated and the butter-and-brown-sugar topping is still dripping down the sides. (Delicious!)
  • I used unsweetened whipped cream and regretted it. You do need the added sweetness to cut the tart lemon.


P.S. Another favorite upside-down cake to try: Ginger Apple Upside-Down Cake. Also, Pear Upside-Down Cake.

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