Miniature Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Cakes make an easy and delicious dessert and a great gift for the holidays. Who doesn’t like to receive a home-baked present? This lemony cake with cranberries is tart yet sweet and moist. Fresh cranberries give a holiday flair with a flavor “pop.” I used some of the Meyer lemons from my backyard tree to make these cakes and baked them in mini-loaf pans. Make sure you read all the way to the bottom of the post where I share a couple of photos of my elusive backyard cardinal bird pair.
The original recipe uses blueberries in the cake. But ’tis the season for fresh cranberries, so let’s be festive. And the huge Meyer lemons on my tree works fine in the cake.
Meyer lemons are a citrus fruit native to China. It is a hybrid cross between a citron and a mandarin/pomelo. The fruit is larger than a typical lemon, perhaps a little sweeter and less tart. So the fruit is really not a lemon at all — just same shape and similar color. The season for this citrus fruit from is from late November to March so you won’t find Meyer lemons in stores after March. They were popularized by Martha Stewart’s cooking a couple of years ago — now you find lots of recipes using Meyer lemons.
After a hard freeze two years ago, my Meyer lemon tree really looked like it was not going to survive. But this year, if is full of fruit leaving me quickly searching for recipes.
Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Cake Recipe
I love to bake and making these cakes to share with friends is a good way enjoy my cooking hobby without having to eat so many desserts myself. Although the cakes freeze well, so I will take one of these cakes out of my freezer from time to time for our family. The recipe isn’t too difficult, mix it up like a typical homemade cake.
Here are the ingredients for my miniature cakes. If Meyer lemons are not available, substitute 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/3 cup fresh orange juice.
For this recipe, I used both the zest of the fruit and the juice. Mix up the batter as for traditional cakes. Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then add the sugar and eggs, vanilla extract (not shown) and grated lemon rind. You need an electric mixer for this recipe as you want to incorporate lots of air into the batter. Then mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk and Meyer lemon juice. Fold in chopped fresh cranberries.
For a topping, I made a candied glaze of Meyer lemon peel zest, sugar and water which were boiled together on the stove until thickened. A zester is a fun kitchen gadget and cuts the rind into thin strips which don’t contain any of the white pith of the peel.
This made a very sweet and tart topping. Although Meyer lemon peel is more fragrant than ordinary lemons, it still is tart! You don’t need much peel!
This makes an simple and festive dessert — just perfect for sharing with friends during the holidays.
Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Cakes
- 1 Meyer lemon rind, finely grated (to yield approx 1 tsp) and 1 Meyer lemon rind, zested (to yield 1 tsp)
- juice of 2 Meyer lemons (to yield 1/2 cup) (or substitute 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/3 cup fresh orange juice)
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature and softened
- 1-1/4 cup sugar, divided
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup skim milk
- 1-1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup water
Method and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously oil 4 mini-baking pans (5-1/2″ x 3″ x 2″).
- Finely zest one Meyer lemon and set aside for cake. Zest second lemon rind into fine strips and set aside for candied glaze.
- Juice the pulp of the lemons to make 1/2 cup juice. Strain to remove seeds and any pulp. Set aside.
- Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt together. Set aside.
- Cream butter in medium-size bowl of electric mixer on medium speed until light and airy..
- Slowly sprinkle in 1 cup sugar and beat until pale.
- Add eggs, one a time, beating after each addition.
- Add vanilla extract and 1 tsp lemon zest.
- Add flour mixture alternately with milk and 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice, beginning and ending with the flour. Do not over mix.
- Gently and quickly fold in chopped cranberries.
- Divide evenly among the prepared mini-baking pans. Evenly smooth tops of batter to edges of pans. Place pans on baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean and the cakes pull away from the edges.
- Remove from oven and cool slightly.
- Meanwhile make candied glaze by heating remaining 1 tsp zest strips of Meyer lemon rind, remaining 1/4 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 cup water on stove in small pot. Bring to boil and cook, shaking pot back and forth to distribute rind and sugar. Stir or shake pot until the sugar dissolves and the glaze thickens slightly. Remove from heat
- Brush top of cakes with candied glaze.
- After cakes cool for 15 to 30 minutes, run knife around of edges of pans to loosen sides and bottom. Remove from pans and cool to room temperature on wire rack.
Look, I have visitors. My cardinal pair which nests in my backyard shows up every morning to bath in the bird bath. I enjoy watching them but the pair is extremely shy and Mr. Cardinal flies away quickly whenever he sees movement or sound. Mrs. Cardinal sometimes lingers long enough to bask in the sunlight, fluff her feathers and for me to take a picture. It is a beautiful pair of birds!
Ah, I’ll snap a photo through the blinds of my kitchen window of the pair.
And yes, Mrs. Cardinal is posing this morning.Think I’ll enjoy a piece of my cake while I watch her as I sit at my kitchen table. Oh well, one less cake to share!
Happy holidays to you and your family this year. If life was only this simple!