A little tart, a little sweet and pre-decorated, this cake is perfect for a party! You can make the cake ahead of time and just prepare the sauce the day of. Chai and I were lucky enough to pick up a free bag of Meyer lemons from the grocery last week. I threw this together pretty quick for dinner with my aunt and grandparents. Which is basically a party without confetti. The recipe is a modified version of Cooking Light’s Citrus Upside-Down Cake with Sour Whipped Cream so it has the added bonus of being health-conscious. Not that you can tell from the texture and flavor.
Meyer lemons (citrus x meyeri) are citrus fruits native to China. They are thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange. The Meyer lemon is commonly grown in China as an ornamental tree in garden pots. Meyer lemons were introduced to the United States in 1908 by agricultural explorer (Who even knew that was a real job title?) Frank Nicholas Meyer of the USDA. He collected a sample of the plant while on a trip to China and, in the typical fashion, we went ahead and named it after him as though he was its actual creator. Meyer lemons became popular as a food item after being rediscovered during the California cuisine revolution in the 90s. Chefs such as Alice Waters and Martha Stewart began to feature the ingredient in their recipes, furthering its popularity.
Meyer lemon trees grow to about 6-10 feet tall. They have shiny, dark green leaves and their fragrant flowers are white with purple bases. The plant is fairly hardy and grows well in warm climates. Meyer lemon trees begin producing fruit at about four years old. They produce fruit throughout the year but the majority of their crop is harvested during the winter. The Meyer lemon fruit is darker in color, deep yellow and even slightly orange, and rounder than a true lemon. The flavor is sweeter and less acidic. The pulp is a dark yellow and contains up to ten hard seeds per fruit.
For more information about Meyer lemons, head to The Life and Times of a Foodie.
Recipes featuring Meyer lemons:
Meyer Lemon Upside Down Cake with White Chocolate Sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 Meyer lemons, thinly sliced and seeded
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup canola oil
2 eggs, beaten
Zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup reduced fat sour cream
1/3 cup vanilla soy milk
12 oz white chocolate
1 cup half and half
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Grease 9” round cake pan.
Line bottom with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat.
Add brown sugar, stirring until dissolved.
Spread mixture into prepared pan.
Top mixture with lemon slices.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cardamom, salt and baking soda.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter and oil.
Mix in eggs, zest and juice.
Mix in vanilla, sour cream and milk.
Gradually mix in flour mixture.
Pour batter over lemon slices in prepared pan.
Bake 45-55 minutes or until pick inserted into center comes out smooth.
Place pan on wire rack and cool 20 minutes.
Prepare sauce while cake cools.
Place white chocolate in a medium bowl.
Heat half and half in small saucepan over medium heat just until it comes to a boil.
Pour over chocolate, stirring until smooth.
Once cake is slightly cooled, run knife around edge of pan and invert onto plate.
The sauce can be poured over the entire cake or onto individual plated slices.