This Meyer lemon almond cake is so simple. There are only five ingredients in this deliciously fragrant, moist cake recipe. You can make it in one bowl, minus the blender or food processor used to whirl the Meyer lemons into a liquid gold puree. It has a vibrant lemon flavor from the whole lemons, and is topped with a sweet lemon glaze. The outer edges of the cake get a bit caramelized and have more chewiness, while the inside has a more custard-like center. It boasts a lovely yellow color and tastes just as bright as it looks. Thanks to the almond flour, it's also gluten free.
Originally posted April 2018; updated November 2021.
This boiled lemon cake was the first recipe I ever posted on the blog. It was in need (and deserving of) updated photos to show off how beautiful it is in its simplicity, along with additional details regarding the recipe. It's a super easy, wonderfully bright cake that's perfect on its own, or with seasonal fruit. The recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden's orange and almond cake from her book "Everything Tastes Better Outdoors," as shared in the NY Times. I've revamped it to fit in an 8" cake pan rather than a wider diameter springform pan.
I've also included weight measurements for the lemons (weight prior to boiling) for more accuracy as individual Meyer lemons vary in size. When I first made it years ago, I served it without a glaze, but I really enjoy the added visual element and the delightful taste the lemon glaze imparts. Plus, if you are lucky enough to be graced with leftover cake the next day, the glaze magically melds with the cake over time and infuses it with even more lemon flavor.
I'm including an image below of the Meyer lemons after boiling them, so that you have a visual reference for how they look after you've simmered them in a pot of water for an hour.
FOR THE CAKE
- Meyer lemons - Meyer lemons are usually found in stores beginning late fall through early spring. They are smaller than the common Eureka and Lisbon lemons that are most typically found in grocery stores. They are darker yellow-orange in color, and have a smoother exterior. The peel is much thinner. They are thought to be a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin orange. Meyer lemons have a more floral taste than standard lemons, and are not as acidic or bitter. This recipe calls for 5 Meyer lemons. As fruit does vary in size, I've provided measurement by weight. For best results, try to find Meyer lemons that roughly equal 500 grams. If you choose to use Meyer lemons for the glaze and decoration, I would purchase at least 2 extra lemons.
- Eggs - Use large eggs that are at room temperature. If you've forgotten to get them out of the fridge in advance, place them in a bowl and cover with warm water for 5 minutes.
- Almond flour - The original recipe calls for finely chopped blanched whole almonds, but I find that ground almond flour (affiliate link) works perfectly, provides a delicate crumb, and cuts down on the effort required to make this cake! I use finely ground almond flour rather than almond meal or coarsely ground almonds, although you can certainly make this lemon almond cake with almond meal as well. It will simply have a slightly more rustic texture. Either way, it's helpful to sift your almond flour through a medium mesh sieve to break up any large lumps that may have formed. The bonus of an all-almond flour recipe is a gluten-free lemon cake!
- Granulated sugar - Sugar provides sweetness and moisture and helps balance the tart Meyer lemon flavor.
- Baking powder - baking powder is the leavening agent.
FOR THE GLAZE
- Powdered sugar - Powdered sugar is used to make the lemon glaze. Be sure to sift your powdered sugar well to avoid lumps.
- Lemon juice - Lemon juice adds flavor and a liquid consistency to the lemon glaze. You may use either freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice or standard (Eureka or Lisbon) lemon juice. If you use Meyer lemon juice, it will be slightly sweeter and less acidic. Start with the smaller amount of juice recommended, and add more as needed to achieve a pourable consistency.
See recipe card for quantities.
Step 1: Wash lemons and place, whole and unpeeled, in pot. Add water just to cover lemons and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove lemons from water gently with a slotted or strainer spoon - they will be soft. It's OK if they've cracked a bit. Just drain as much water from the interior as possible. Place on a plate to cool, then cut them in half and remove the seeds and slice off any hard or dark bits on the stem end. Place the lemons (including peel) in a blender or food processor and puree.
Step 2: Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the lemon puree and mix.
Step 3: Add sugar, almond flour and baking powder.
Step 4: Mix batter until well combined. Since there is no gluten in the almond flour, there's no need to worry about over-mixing the batter.
Step 5: Pour batter into an 8 inch round cake pan with 3 inch tall sides (affiliate link) that has been lined with a circle of parchment paper and greased. Level the top with a mini offset spatula or knife, and bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 50-55 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, the edges are beginning to turn a golden brown, and are pulling away from the pan.
Step 6: Cool the cake completely in the pan on a baking rack. Once cooled, gently invert onto a plate, remove parchment, and flip back onto a serving platter. If using a springform, simply remove the sides.
Step 7: Sift the powdered sugar into a medium sized bowl. Add the smaller amount of lemon juice and stir well. If needed, add additional lemon juice to achieve a thick but pourable consistency. Pour onto cake and spread with the back of a spoon. Nudge some of the glaze over the edge of the cake to create pretty drips. The glaze will set up after an hour or two.
If you want to make this cake but can't find Meyer lemons, I would suggest you substitute a combination of half standard lemons and half mandarin oranges, for a total of 500 grams (1.1 pounds, 17.6 ounces) in weight. Since Meyer lemons are thought to be a hybrid of lemon and mandarin orange, this seems like the best bet. You could also use all oranges, which is how the original recipe by Claudia Roden is written. (Check out a review of her latest cookbook here).
Thanks to the use of all almond flour, this is a completely gluten free lemon cake. It is also dairy free. I don't make recipes with specific dietary restrictions in mind, but it's wonderful to have a few good recipes on hand to share with family and friends that do have to follow specific diets.
I love the simplicity of this recipe exactly as written, but if you want to add some additional flavor and decoration, here are a few suggestions:
- Pair with seasonal fruit like fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or mangoes.
- Serve with sweetened whipped cream and some finely chopped fresh mint leaves.
- Place a scoop of creamy coconut ice cream or vanilla bean ice cream on the side.
When I first made this recipe years ago, I used a 10 inch (25 cm) springform pan. While it worked just fine, I found the resulting cake to be quite short and underwhelming in looks. I wanted to have a somewhat taller cake, so I baked this in an 8 inch (20 cm) cake pan with 3 inch (7.6cm) tall sides (affiliate link). I always put a circle of parchment paper in the base of my cake pans and grease the paper and sides with cooking spray to ensure a clean release.
If you have an 8 inch springform, that would also be a great option, and in a pinch, a 9 inch pan would work as well (you'll need to adjust the cooking time, as it will most likely have to be reduced a bit).
Store this Meyer lemon almond flour cake, well covered, at room temperature for 2-3 days, or in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze leftover cake, well wrapped and sealed in an airtight container, for a month or two. If you plan to bake and freeze the entire cake in advance, hold off on applying the glaze until you defrost the cake.
Lemon cake decoration
Wait until just before serving the cake to add the thinly sliced lemon garnish. The juice from the slices will bleed slightly onto the glaze, which isn't an issue for taste or looks, but will add some extra moisture to that area of the cake. Use a sharp knife with a thin blade to slice a Meyer lemon crosswise. Remove any seeds. Place a few slices flat onto the cake. To create the lemon twists, make a slit halfway through a lemon slice. Hold the points and gently twist them in opposite directions. Place onto the cake.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use regular lemons instead of Meyer lemons?
A common question with this cake is the use of Meyer lemon vs. lemon. I don't recommend a straight substitution, as Meyer lemons are sweeter, less acidic, and have a thinner rind than the common Eureka and Lisbon lemon varieties. Please refer to the substitutions section for my advice on what to substitute for Meyer lemons.
Can I cook the lemons in a pressure cooker or in the microwave?
I have successfully made this recipe by cooking the lemons in my Instant Pot pressure cooker (affiliate link) for 6 minutes on high pressure with natural release. While I haven't tried the microwave method, I've read comments made on the New York Times orange almond cake version of the recipe that suggest you can cook the lemons in a large bowl of water in the microwave for 10-15 minutes as well. Please let me know if you try the microwave method and I can update the information here accordingly.
I do find it easy to boil the lemons in a pot of water on the stove for an hour. Once they reach a low boil, they let off a lovely scent that freshens the house with lemon. The important bit, no matter your method, is to make sure your Meyer lemons reach a very soft, slumped consistency (while still whole) with an almost jammy interior.
Meyer Lemon Almond CakePrint Recipe Pin Recipe
Meyer Lemon Almond Cake
- 500 grams Meyer lemons (1.1 pounds, 17.6 ounces) I used 5 Meyer lemons, but lemon size varies widely. Weigh for accuracy.
- 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 224 grams (2 cups) almond flour, finely ground
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 120 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1½ to 2 Tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (ok to substitute standard lemon juice)
Meyer Lemon Almond Cake
- Wash lemons and place, whole and unpeeled, in pot. Add water just to cover lemons and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove lemons from water gently with a slotted or strainer spoon - they will be soft. It's ok if they've cracked a bit. Just drain as much water from the interior as possible. Place on a plate to cool, then cut them in half and remove the seeds and slice off any hard bits on the stem end. Place the lemons (including peel) in a blender or food processor and puree.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a circle of parchment paper in the base of an 8 inch round cake pan with 3 inch tall sides. Grease the paper and sides of the pan. TIP: An 8 inch springform pan will work just as well if you have no tall cake pan.
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the lemon puree and mix. Add sugar, almond flour and baking powder and mix until well combined. Since there is no gluten in the almond flour, there's no need to worry about over-mixing the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, level the top with a spatula or knife, and bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, the edges are beginning to turn a golden brown, and are pulling away from the pan.
- Cool the cake completely in the pan on a baking rack.Once cooled, gently invert onto a plate, remove parchment, and flip back onto a serving platter. If using a springform, simply remove the sides.
- Sift the powdered sugar into a medium sized bowl. Add smaller amount of lemon juice and stir well. If needed, add additional lemon juice to achieve a pourable consistency. Pour onto cake and spread with the back of a spoon. Nudge some of the glaze over the edge of the cake to create pretty drips. The glaze will set up after an hour or two.
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If you liked this flourless lemon cake recipe, you might also enjoy these citrus desserts!