In California, we get lovely, ripe Meyer lemons starting right after Christmas. I like to do the “squeeze and freeze,” meaning I can use the lemon juice throughout the year, even as Meyer and other lemons stay in season for quite some time.
A simple, beautiful cake for Easter, which would be lovely for a brunch or tea, is this one made of lemon curd and almonds. I follow the recipe pretty exactly, but I reduce the sugar by a few tablespoons, since Meyer lemons, with their orange-scented flavor, are not as tart as regular lemons. You can of course use regular lemons as well. I also omit the almond liqueur from the whipped cream, instead using a splash of vanilla extract, and whip the cream only it’s billowy, not stiff. Give it a whirl!
Happy Easter, friends!
Recipe (from NYT Cooking):
- Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 extra-large eggs
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar **reduce sugar slightly
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 extra-large eggs
- ½ cup ground toasted almonds
- 2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds
- About 1/2 cup heavy cream for garnish
- 1 tablespoon almond liqueur (optional)**use vanilla extract instead
- For the curd, combine zest, juice, sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl, and beat well. Add butter, and place over a saucepan full of simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until mixture thickens into curd, about 5 minutes. Strain into a bowl, and press plastic wrap onto surface to keep skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool, at least 1 1/2 hours.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch spring-form pan with 1 tablespoon butter, and dust with 1 tablespoon flour, shaking out excess.
- With an electric mixer, cream the remaining butter and 1 cup sugar together until light and fluffy. Sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt, and stir in. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until they start to foam. Do not overbeat or the cake will be tough. Add eggs and ground almonds to batter, and mix well.
- Scrape batter into the prepared pan. Drop 8 individual tablespoons lemon curd around perimeter of batter, leaving a 1-inch border, and taking care to space drops evenly. Drop 3 to 4 tablespoons curd into center of batter. Refrigerate remaining curd for another use. Sprinkle cake with toasted almonds and 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, depending on taste.
- Bake until cake is toasty brown on top and a toothpick inserted into cake (not curd) comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool on rack 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan, and cool completely.
- Whip cream with almond liqueur. Present cake at table, and offer whipped cream on the side.