Last spring Michael bought me the most wonderful Mother’s Day gift. He always gives me big baskets of fuschia, my favorite hanging flowers, but this time he also bought two large Meyer lemon trees. We already had one that was still small, but these were large. I mean they had tons of blossoms and about a dozen small green lemons already on them. I was so surprised and happy! They sat out on our deck in large pots all summer, basking in the sunshine, growing and ripening. When the weather turned cold, we moved them into the sunroom where they would still have plenty of light and warmth. And we waited for the lemons.
We were finally able to harvest our lemons, and we have been so happy with them. We’ve used them in pie and cakes, and the flavor is fantastic. If you can find some way to have a potted Meyer lemon tree, it’s well worth the experiment. As long as I don’t inadvertently kill them off, we’ll have lemons and the intoxicating fragrance of the lemon blossoms for years to come.
One of my favorite new recipes for the lemons is this Lemon Polenta Cake from Cooking Light. It’s served with a winter fruit compote spooned over the slices, and the Meyer lemons worked beautifully with it. You know how some cakes are tons of work? This one is not. It’s a cake that you can whisk together in just a few minutes, making it a great after school snack, and it’s moist and pretty enough to serve to guests. An all-around winner.
Funny story about the day I made this. Schools in our area have been closed many days this winter due to all the snow and ice days. So the boys were home, yet again, and one monkey who shall remain nameless stuck his finger in the middle of the cake while it cooled. Can you tell? Apparently the culprit needed something extra special and fun to do on another snow/ice day. Like sticking fingers in the cake.
It still tasted delicious.
I make my own buttermilk with lemon juice and milk. Just add 2 tablespoons of the Meyer lemon juice to the measuring cup, then add milk until you have ⅔ cup. Let it sit on the counter until it starts to curdle, about 10 minutes, then it's ready.
Meyer Lemon Polenta Cake with Winter Fruit Compote
- 8-inch round cake pan, coated with cooking spray and lined with parchment
- large mixing bowl
- medium bowl
- small saucepan with lid
- 1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup yellow cornmeal (aka polenta)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup low-fat buttermilk (or make your own)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons Meyer lemon zest
- 1 cup apple cider
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup fresh cranberries (rinsed)
- 1¾ cups finely chopped (peeled pear or apple (about 2))
- 2 teaspoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350° F/175° C.
- CAKE - Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt in the large mixing bowl. Make a well in center of the mixture. In the medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, olive oil, eggs, and lemon zest. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until moist. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
- FRUIT COMPOTE - While the cake bakes, combine the apple cider and raisins in the small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and cook until reduced to ⅔ cup, about 4 minutes. Add the fresh cranberries and cook until the cranberries pop, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped pears and cook just until pears are tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature.
More Easy Winter Cake Recipes
More Recipes with Meyer Lemons From Other Blogs
- Sass & Veracity – Meyer Lemon and Blackberry Chiffon Pie
- Cooking on the Side – Meyer Lemon Whipping Cream Pound Cake
- Jelly Toast – Meyer Lemon Meltaways
- Pastry Chef Online – Lemon Verbena Olive Oil Cake
[Disclosure: I am a member of the Cooking Light Bloggers' Connection.]
Oh, I envy you your Meyer lemon trees--I don't think I could keep them alive in NC. How lovely to have that heady fragrance and that gorgeous fruit almost whenever you want!
Thanks for including my lemon olive oil cake. Lemon is such a wonderful flavor and goes everywhere from appetizers to dessert!
Thanks Jenni. I wasn't sure the trees would live, but they have done well so far!
I would certainly like a slice of that cake here in Honolulu, Hawaii. The fruit compote is a great balancing flavor idea. Could you use fresh pineapple or mango from the islands?
Hi Miguel. I'm sure an island fruit compote would be delicious with the cake.
Sabrina - A Spoonful of Photography says
Wow - homegrown lemons, that's a thing I can only dream of (at least for now) :-). Awesome that you've got such a great harvest with your lemons! Besides that your cake sounds and looks absolutely tempting, I'll try it soon for sure (but with storebought lemons of course) 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!
Thank you Sabrina! Seeing all those lemons on the tree made me smile. Hope you enjoy the cake.
Cate @ Chez CateyLou says
Your meyer lemon trees are gorgeous!! And so is this cake. It looks delicious, and that fruit compote is the perfect topping!
Thanks Cate! My guys love the flavors of the lemons and other fruits together.
kristy @ the wicked noodle says
If you have a surplus of those lemons, you know who to dump them on! 😉 Your cake looks absolutely scrumptious!
Oh, I must confess that we used up all our Meyer lemons. But I will be sure to share some of the next crop! 🙂
Mary Ann Miller says
I was excited to see the combo of fruit compote/polenta/lemon in the title! I wanted to use up 1/2 "roll/tube" of polenta and some special mango/passionfruit compote sitting in my fridge. And...I just got some Meyer lemon infused olive oil from a favorite olive farm in AZ. So of course that is going in there! Question: the recipe says to use 1/2 c dry cornmeal, if I use that 1/2 roll of polenta would I need to make adjustments on the moisture content added?
Hi Mary Ann. The mango passion fruit compote sounds delicious! I have never made this cake with cooked polenta. The recipe was tested and written with dry corn meal, and given that it's very difficult to determine the amount of moisture in the rolled polenta, I would hesitate to try it. However, if you go for it, let me know how it turns out!