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I spent the day before we left clearing out the kitchen like I always do before a trip that’s going to be more than a couple of days long.  I promised myself I wouldn’t cook anything so I could focus my attention on cleaning up,  packing, getting the dog squared away with the pet sitter, and paying stray bills.  That all went out the window when I  saw I had four plump Meyer lemons sitting in the fruit bowl.  You can’t throw Meyer lemons in the garbage.  That’s a sacrilege.

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My Flourless Tangerine Cake was the inspiration here.  Cakes made with whole citrus fruit are a Mediterranean specialty; they’re made with the whole fruit, peel and all.  There is no wheat flour in this cake, just almond meal, so it has a fabulous moist dense texture and is naturally gluten free.  In addition to the 3 whole lemons in the cake  I added a touch of lemon extract and a super tangy lemon icing so this cake is really the essence of ‘lemony-ness’.

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This kind of cake is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a citrus fanatic like I am, I think you will love it.  The fruit is boiled before pureeing, and that takes away any unpleasant bitterness in the peel.  The combination of the whole pureed fruit and the almond meal makes for a very moist, but not soggy, cake.  Traditionally this kind of cake would be served plain, maybe with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, but I went over the top with a puckery lemon icing.  I originally added it because the surface of my cake was a little jagged and wasn’t very attractive for photographing, but I’m so glad I did, it makes the cake extra special.  It’s the kind of cake you can serve to guests, or eat, sliver by sliver, all week long.

Flourless Whole Meyer Lemon Cake

Flourless Whole Meyer Lemon Cake

What You Will Need

  • 3 or 4 large Meyer Lemons (approximately 12 oz, total to yield 1 cup of whole lemon puree)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • for the lemon icing
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 325F
  2. Wash the lemons and put them in a pot. Cover them with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain the lemons and let them cool until you can handle them. Cut them open and remove the seeds, but keep everything else. Do this on a plate so you can retain all the juices. Once you have removed all the seeds, put everything into a food processor. Process until finely pureed. You may need to pulse the machine at first, and scrape down the sides as necessary to get everything smooth. This will only take a couple of minutes. You will need one cup of lemon puree for the cake.
  4. Beat the eggs and the sugar until pale in color. Add the lemon extract.
  5. Fold in the almond meal, baking powder, and lemon puree. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  6. Turn the batter into a greased 9" springform pan. Smooth out the surface so it is even.
  7. Bake for about 50 -60 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then gently release the sides of the pan and remove the cake to finish cooling.
  9. Make the icing while the cake is cooling. Combine the sugar with the butter and lemon juice. Beat until smooth and creamy. Adjust the texture by adding more sugar or more lemon juice. If you prefer a less tangy icing, use less lemon juice and add a little milk or cream. Spread the icing on the completely cooled cake.
http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/flourless-whole-meyer-lemon-cake/

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A note about flavor — I am a big fan of pure flavor extracts.  I’m talking about  pure natural extracts, not artificial flavorings.  I think they add a nice boost in certain cases and in this case the lemon extract just enhances the citrus flavor of the cake.  It’s handy to have a selection in your cupboard, especially as we go into the holiday and baking season.  In addition to almond and vanilla I keep spearmint, peppermint, lemon, orange, rum, and coconut extracts around.  I’m searching for maple extract, which is a little harder to find.  There are lots of varieties available, ranging from pistachio to watermelon  and cardamom.  Just remember to say away from anything with the words ‘artificial’  or ‘imitation’ on the label.   Olive Nation has a great selection if you’re interested.

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112 Responses to Flourless Whole Meyer Lemon Cake

  1. Chris says:

    Cann ot find the recipe. Can you email it to me?

  2. Brenda says:

    Could I use lemon curd if I’m too lazy?

    • Sue says:

      Not for this cake I’m afraid, Brenda, curd is so different in texture and composition from the puree you use for this cake, sorry!

  3. This cake is genius. I can’t wait to make it!

  4. Jill says:

    I made this cake tonight with one Meyer lemon and a handful of kumquats. It was delicious. Moist, nice texture and not too sweet. I did not bother with frosting, just a dusting of powdered sugar and some candied kumquat slices for garnish. Lovely recipe, super simple to prepare yet very sophisticated looking. Thank you.

    • Amanda says:

      Please share hints on how you achieved your kumquat variation. And how did you candy kumquats? Family has a personal link to kumquats – I would LOVE to duplicate
      Please.
      Thank you! !

  5. Nancy says:

    Sounds heavenly. Love anything lemony. Will try for my friend’s birthday! Thanks.

  6. Mari Weisman says:

    I would love to try this cake for passover this year, but because I am having 23 people I would like to try and make it in advance. Can I freeze it?

  7. Patty Gurley says:

    I hate to be dumb but if I read correctly besides the seeds – you put the whole lemon, rind and all in the food processor. Not just the pulp?

  8. Tamara says:

    I made this, and unfortunately neither the flavor or the texture was appealing, and I tossed it. Perhaps using a smaller processor bowl would have helped get the puree finer, but even after scraping down, and processing several times, mine still had tiny bits of unpleasant peel, which combined with almond meal texture, was not pleasant.

    I used lovely Meyers from the Lemon Ladies, but I didn’t find the flavor of the cake to be very vibrant. Normally I love a less sweet dessert, but this one, unfortunately, just did not work for me.

  9. PJ says:

    Any thoughts on trying this with ruby red grape fruits?

  10. Linda says:

    Thank you for this recipe. Everyone loved the cake. I did not use Meyer lemons. Just some organic ones I wanted to use up. Turned out great. Can hardly wait to get ahold of some Meyers and try again.

  11. Laura says:

    Your tangerine cake recipe specifies boiling the tangerines twice, while this lemon cake recipe specifies boiling the lemons once? Should the Meyer lemons be boiled twice to reduce bitterness (as with the tangerines)?

    • Sue says:

      There are various methods for making cakes like this Laura, and I experimented with a few. Meyer lemons aren’t particularly bitter, so the single boiling is good.

  12. Megan Whalin says:

    I don’t normally leave negative reviews because I know how difficult it is to develop recipes. Unfortunately, this cake was very bitter. I followed the recipe exactly. I was making this cake for a gathering, so I tasted the batter before baking. It was very bitter so I ended up adding more sugar in hopes that the bitterness would lessen once baked. It did not.

    I suggest doing what a previous commenter did by substituting applesauce, lemon juice, and lemon zest for the whole lemon puree.

    • Sue says:

      Did you use Meyer lemons Megan, because that makes all the difference…the skins aren’t nearly as bitter as regular lemons. I do think that the bitterness in this cake should be pleasant, and regular lemons just don’t work. That said, maybe the substitutions will work for people who really don’t like bitter tastes at all. Thanks for the feedback!

    • Casey says:

      I agree. I thought this would be a nice treat for my gluten free coworkers and I’m really disappointed. I followed the recipe and used Meyer lemons, but it’s not very pleasant. The look of the cake is somewhat rustic and lovely though. Perhaps I will try the applesauce too!

  13. Heidi says:

    I love this recipe! I’ve never tried boiling the whole lemon and pureeing before, but it worked perfectly. It really adds that intense lemon flavor. I made this in a heavy stoneware large pie dish greased with coconut oil, and it worked well. I have a bunch of Meyer lemons left. I am going to try boiling, pureeing and freezing to use in future recipes. I hope it works!

  14. Peixoto says:

    Hello there. First, thanks for your recipe.
    I want to do this cake for my wife, for her birthday, tomorrow… :D I’m late. It’s normal, because, she will have a surprise with friends on Saturday.
    I don’t have lemon extract, i just essential oil of lemon. Can i use it? If yes, in the same proportions?
    Well, i thank you.
    Peace.

    • Peixoto says:

      Also, i can’t get Meyer Lemons. What can i do? I have regular lemons and bergamot orange. :)
      Thanks again.

      • Peixoto says:

        If i use normal lemons, what Meyer Lemons were large, what weight of normal lemons should i use? What is the weight of a lemon?
        Thank you again.

  15. Malin says:

    I love this cake! I used this as a base for a christmas safron cake and it’s just perfect. I’m making it for the second time right now, but a vegan version with flax eggs (last time I made it with regular eggs) I hope it turns out well! I highly recomend you to try add 0,5 or 1 g of safron to this recipe instead of the lemon extract, it is the best cake i ever made!

  16. Kelehe says:

    Well it turned out great. Straight substitute one cup of applesauce plus juice and zest of two lemons for the cooked lemons. The batter was slightly thinner and the texture was slightly lighter, but otherwise very comparable without the bitterness.

  17. Kelehe says:

    The cake turned out well; moist, excellent texture. The bitterness was subtle, but I’m not a fan of marmalades for that reason. I like the recipe, though, so I’m going to try substituting applesauce and Meyer lemon juice and zest for the boiled lemon purée.

    I’ll post how it turns out.

  18. Donna R. says:

    Is a springform pan a must or can it be done in a rectangular/square/round regular pan? I just don’t have a springform.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Sue says:

      You could do it in a regular pan, Donna, you just won’t be able to remove it easily. Maybe if you line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment that might help.

  19. Chelsea says:

    Hi there, I just came across your recipe and it looks amazing! Unfortunately I can not find Meyer lemons right now. Could I make this with any type of orange and would the rest if the ingredients need to be modified (due to swee

  20. Kristin says:

    Absolutely love this recipe. I was skeptical about boiling the lemons but it all worked out perfectly. I think I’m going to make a couple batches of the boiled lemon purée to put in the freezer for future cakes. Can’t wait to try the tangerine cake recipe.

  21. Kristen says:

    I did not have Meyer lemons, so I just used regular lemons. I love the texture of this cake but the after taste is just awful! I am thinking the Meyer lemons are a must. Any suggestions as to why the after taste turned out so horrible. I did also actually make this in a 9×13 and like I said the texture is awesome, I just cooked it for 25 minutes instead of 50.

    • Sue says:

      Meyer lemons are very different from regular lemons, particularly when it comes to the skin. Meyers have a thin skin that is not very bitter, whereas regular lemons have thick skin which can be extremely bitter. I know meyer lemons can sometimes be tough to find, especially in summer. If you can wait till they are back in season, you’ll have better luck!

  22. Casey says:

    Hi! I want to make this for my brothers birthday but I really need to make it in advance. Does it keep well? How many days in advance can I make it and will it dry out? How do I store it?

    Thanks!

    • Sue says:

      If you want to make it ahead, I would wrap it well in plastic and keep in the fridge. Don’t frost it until you are ready to serve.

  23. Joseph says:

    this recipe looks great, especially the frosting!!!, but I am going to try it with gluten free flour because I can’t have almonds. I plan on adding 1/2 cup or so of fat (butter, shortening, oil, I dunno which) to make up for the almonds. I’ve done this with other recipes that used almond flour and it has worked so hopefully it turns out ok with this.

    • Sue says:

      let me know, Joseph!

    • Stephanie says:

      This may be a longshot, but how did your cake turn out Joseph? I can’t have almonds either, and a friend was raving about this recipe. I’d love to know if the gluten free flour/added fat worked out. Thanks so much!

  24. latinavaquerita says:

    Have you tried a paleo version, maybe with a coconut milk based icing, and coconut sugar or raw honey for the sugar replacement in the cake? Thanks,

    • Sue says:

      I haven’t tried that but I think it should work, you would just have an extra flavor in there from the coconut.

  25. Sharyn says:

    can you use regular flour with this recipe? Or even substitute half regular flour and half almond flout?

  26. Sue says:

    I made this last Friday for Passover since it is flourless. My lemon extract had evaporated, so I used vanilla instead. It was yummy, but still a little bitter. But the bitterness completely dissipated by day 3 or 4. I think I will make this cake in advance from now on, but it will definitely be part of my Passover repertoire. Thanks so much for a new gluten free option.

  27. Lorraine says:

    My cake is in the oven right now, I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Using whole citrus is intriguing and I love the taste of Meyer lemons, so different than regular lemons. And I’m so jealous of all of you with Meyer lemon trees – wow!

    I subbed Swerve (erithritol) and stevia (20 drops) for the sugar, and same for the frosting only the powdered version. When you use erithritol, which is less sweet than sugar, you should always add stevia or another sweetener to make up the difference. Combining sweeteners also negates some of the stranger aspects of the individual sweeteners, like the coolness of erithritol or the bitterness of stevia.

    Also, I used 4 lemons and had some puree left over. I’m going to make coconut lemon popsicles with it using coconut milk. Yum!

  28. Sheri says:

    I am all ready to make this yummy sounding cake, but I am doing it for 140 people. do you think I can do it in large rectangular pans? Would it effect the cooking time?

    • Sue says:

      Honestly I’m not sure, Sheri. I think if you are making this cake for a large group of people your best bet is to make several cakes instead of trying to enlarge the recipe.

  29. deb says:

    This cake sound delicious and an excellent use for the lemons on my tree. Would it be possible to bake it and then freeze it? If so, what is the best way to defrost it. Thank you.

  30. Melissa says:

    Would it be possible to use coconut flour? I read that almond meal isn’t very good for you–it slows down your metabolism and encourages inflammatory responses in the body!! If not, I’ll make it anyway :P I LOVE dense cakes!

    • Sue says:

      Honestly I don’t know about using coconut flour, I know it’s extremely absorbent, so you may not need as much flour, and you may need to add more liquid. Sorry I can’t be more certain, I just don’t have a lot of experience with cakes and coconut flour, but please let me know if you do try it!

  31. Mike says:

    Baked the cake, spread a layer of lemon curd on it and then topped it with meringue. Came out fantastic. A lemon meringue cake.

  32. Cindy says:

    It’s in the oven and I’m very excited! I was a bit confused on the lemons as I wasn’t sure if you meant 3 (12 ounces each) lemons or 3 lemons =12 ounces total. I happen to have very huge Meyer lemons on our tree each weighing 12 ounces or more and one was perfect. Just thought I’d throw this out there for the next person who may wonder as well. I’m also excited that this cake is gluten-free, dairy free, chicken egg free (I used duck eggs) as well as sugar-free. I used xylitol (made from hardwoods) and I put some in the blender with arrowroot powder to make powdered sugar. Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

    • Sue says:

      I clarified it in the recipe, Cindy, thanks, it’s 12 oz total. I’d love to see your massive Meyer lemons, what a fabulous tree you must have! I hope the recipe turns out for you with your adjustments, let us know.

      • Cindy says:

        I love this cake but it has a bit of a bitter aftertaste. I used Erithritol in the cake which is only 70% as sweet as sugar so maybe that’s the reason. Or perhaps the rind of our big Meyer lemons is more bitter than the normal sized ones. I don’t know but it’s delicious nonetheless.

        • Sue says:

          It’s been a while since I’ve made the cake, but I do remember that the flavor of whole citrus cakes is a little bit bitter, however that is supposed to be part of their charm. Substitutions can be tricky, so that could have had something to do with it. Meyers should be the least bitter of all, though, but I’ve never encountered ones as big as yours sound!

  33. […] to do with them? Look no further than picture-based social media site Pinterest, where I found this delicious recipe for a gluten free cake made with almond flour and. . .FOUR Meyer […]

  34. Amy says:

    I made your cake. OMG. It’s SOOO good!!

    https://heatcagekitchen.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/chocolate-meyer-lemons-and-sweet-potatoes/

    Many thanks for putting it on Pinterest where I could find it. I’ll be doing that again one day!!

    • Sue says:

      Thanks for letting me know, Amy, I appreciate it!

    • OBXYAK says:

      Amy, why does yours look “grainy” or beige in color and Sue’s looks dense, moist and a pure lemon color? Based on looks alone they look like different cakes. Not trying to insult just wondering what the difference might be.

      • Amy says:

        Hi, OBXYAK:

        I guess I should have explained that in the post. I just came back to read the recipe and found your comment, so I thought I should respond.

        It’s simply the different almond flour I used. Most almond flour is made from skinned almonds, giving it the beige color, and Sue’s cake looks like a regular flour cake.

        I don’t know where you are in the world, but if you’re near a Trader Joe’s, next time you go in, look for their almond flour, which is about $5 a bag (last time I bought some) versus $9 to $15 a bag, depending on where you buy it.

        In Trader Joe’s almond flour, the almonds are ground as is, including the little brown skin on them. Less labor, less expensive. It’s still almond flour, but with the “whole grain” look to it. Since I’m also what you’d call “frugal,” I stock up on it when I go to Trader Joe’s. I haven’t noticed any difference in taste, only in appearance. That’s all it is.

        I never thought you were being insulting, just curious. :)

  35. Daniela says:

    The cake sounds delicious, however in my country we only have “green lemons” (I guess it is what you call limes. Do you think it will work with limes? Thanks!

    • Sue says:

      I haven’t tried it with limes, Daniela, and I think that since limes are not only less juicy, but more bitter than lemons, you might not get a good result. I’m always up for a challenge though, so I support you if you want to give it a go — and report back, for sure!

    • Grace says:

      Anyone tried limes yet? I made the puree and added extra lime juice because it definitely came out drier than the lemon or tangerine puree. I’ll let you know how it comes out! I’m thinking I will add more sugar to balance the bitterness.

  36. Kristi says:

    Just wondering if you have tried a sweetner other than confectioners sugar (we stay away from refined) for the glaze? I’ll use coconut sugar for the cake, but it doesn’t work real well in a glaze even if I whirl it in my food processor to be ‘powdered’. Perhaps honey & lemon?

    • Sue says:

      Hmmm, not sure Kristi. As I recall the cake itself is not overly sweet, so to me the sweet lemony glaze was a big part of the experience. You could certainly try honey, it would just be a very different type of cake. let me know how it turns out!

  37. johnnie evans/thonas says:

    love your website !!!!

  38. Meg says:

    I plan on making this delicious looking cake tomorrow, but I don’t have a springform pan. Is it necessary, or would a standard 9″ cake pan work?

  39. Jayne says:

    Can I use rice flour instead of almond meal ?

  40. jaja says:

    Hi may I know if I can substittue the almond flour with whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour? thanks!

    • Sue says:

      I have to say that this cake is really made for the almond flour, Jaja. I don’t think regular flour would work as well, sorry!

  41. […] found this recipe at The View from Great Island, a wonderful blog that I stumbled across and bookmarked to savor in the future…so many beautiful […]

  42. Stephanie says:

    My daughter made the orange version during the holidays. Yesterday I made this one. YUM. I omitted the extract as I didn’t have it. Full of citrus goodness. My icing looked more like a thin glaze instead of white creaminess like your photo but absolutely delicious. A wonderful gluten-free dessert.

  43. I love citrus cakes – I can nearly taste this one as I read.

  44. Eileen says:

    This cake sounds so good! Now I know what to do with some of our backyard meyer lemons. But I also have a whole boatload of (exceptionally seedy) tangerines in the kitchen right now…maybe I’ll tackle the million seeds and try it with those. Sounds like it would be great either way!

  45. grace says:

    i’m sick to death of seeing flourless chocolate cakes, so this is a refreshing change…even if it is lemon. :)

  46. Donna Baker says:

    I grow many types of citrus, including Meyer lemons. I thought I’d made everything possible with them, until I saw this recipe. Absolutely can’t wait to make this. My lemons won’t be ready until Nov. though, so it is going to weigh heavily on me till then.

  47. Sue says:

    My husband loves candied peel oranges and lemons. To rid the taste of bitter, I soak the peel in cold water and change the water several times , this really helps. I can’t wait until tomorrow when I can make this pie.

  48. Sue says:

    Thanks for the nice words, Mary. I have a cart started at King Arthur but don’t like the shipping costs! I’m going to bite the bullet and order it though, I have to have it for my Maple Oat Nut Scones!

  49. I love meyer lemons, such a pretty cake!

  50. Joanne says:

    Oh no you absolutely could NOT let those meyers go to waste! I can’t wait to make this when meyers are more available here. So much lemony goodness in one cake!

  51. Yes, please! Pour me a cup of tea because this cake is definitely my cup of tea too Sue. That icing looks the stuff dreams are made of!

  52. I saw Nigella Lawson make a cake this way with clementines. This one looks delicious and perfect for the end of summer.

  53. I can already tell that this will be amazingly moist, and so perfect with an afternoon cup of coffee or tea!

  54. Love that it’s flourless, dense, and packed with lemon flavor! And yes, it would have been sacrilege to throw lemons out! Great way to use them! Have fun on your getaway!

  55. Mary says:

    I couldn’t love this recipe more, Sue. I WILL be making it sooner than later. This cake sounds heavenly!

  56. Susan says:

    Another winner and my Meyer lemons are ripening on my tree as I speak.

  57. Dom says:

    beautiful.. I do love an almond flour cake, it feels so luxurious I think but in fact it really isn’t… we don’t get meyer lemons here in the UK (at least I haven’t seen them) and I would love to try one as I hear they’re superb… I can only but dream!

    • Sue says:

      Well, I guess the luxurious thing about almond flour is its price. This isn’t a super cheap cake to make, but a little does go a long way. I think regular lemons would be great to use, too. They might even give this cake more lemon flavor.

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