This naturally gluten free Flourless Whole Meyer Lemon cake is made with the entire lemon, peel and all, in the Mediterranean tradition, it has a tender texture and an explosive lemon flavor.
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.
My Flourless Whole 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’.
This flourless whole Meyer lemon 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.
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.
If you love gluten free desserts, try some of my others, I love this Belgian Flourless Chocolate Cake, I’ve been making it for years, and it’s always a hit with guests. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Flourless Coconut Cake is an unusual gluten free cake for coconut lovers.
Reader Rave ~
“I absolutely love LOVE love this recipe and made it many times. But today I tried something different. I made cupcakes. Worked perfectly. A muffin tin was used but I poured the batter into larger sized paper muffin cups. Wasn’t sure how much to put in each and guessed, filled about 2/3 up and got 11 (of the 12) filled. Perfect. Was able to peel the paper off without any issue and the resulting cupcakes were super moist and as good as the larger sized cake.” ~ Andrew
Flourless Whole Meyer Lemon Cake
- 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
- Set oven to 325F
- Wash the lemons and put them in a pot. Cover them with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes.
- 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.
- Beat the eggs and the sugar until pale in color. Add the lemon extract.
- Fold in the almond meal, baking powder, and lemon puree. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Turn the batter into a greased 9" springform pan. Smooth out the surface so it is even.
- Bake for about 50 -60 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then gently release the sides of the pan and remove the cake to finish cooling.
- 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.
Questions and Reviews
Hi Sue! I am both gluten and almond intolerant so I was wondering if there was any other flour you can recommend on using to try this! I´ll appreciate your comments!
Hi Andrea — this recipe is kind of a traditional recipe built around almond flour, so I’m not sure how to substitute. In other words, I think the texture of a nut meal is what’s required. If you can tolerate another nut, that might work, like hazelnut meal? I know the flavor would be altered, for sure. Trader Joe’s sells it.
I am diabetic so flourless equals less carbs. I have a thin skinned seedless lemon tree not Meyer lemons. The bitterness in citrus comes mostly from the white pith just under the rind. I used 4 lemons, boiled as recipe, then I carefully removed pulp and juice. I then with a spoon scraped the pith off the rinds of 2 lemons and tossed it in the trash. I used those 2 rinds only. I put the lemon in a blender and added the juice of 1 lemon and some water as with pureeing the lemon pulp thickened and needed liquid to get it smooth. I used about 1/3 c xylitol sugar and 2/3 c Splenda as sweetener,(again to cut carbs). Baked it for 55 minutes and it was delicious! Just the right amount of sweet and super lemony and moist. I did not find it bitter at all. Great recipe and now I can have lemon cake without raising my blood sugar.
I’m so happy for you Trudy, and I’m sure this will be helpful to other low carb and diabetic eaters as well, thanks so much for taking the time to write down your method.
Made this last night. I was nervous about bitterness because I didn’t have Meyer lemons, but it came out great! I had about 6 small lemons so after boiling I puréed all of the insides but only used 3 of the peels -trying to cut down on potential bitterness, and it was perfect! Great moist texture, just enough sourness. Lovely recipe !!
Also, the question marks ^ were supposed to be a thumbs up. I guess emojis don’t work! *oops*
I CANNOT believe that this is flourless. This lemon cake looks SINFUL. I need a slice!
Cann ot find the recipe. Can you email it to me?
Sure, no problem 🙂
Could I use lemon curd if I’m too lazy?
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!
This cake is genius. I can’t wait to make it!
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.
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
Thank you! !
Sounds heavenly. Love anything lemony. Will try for my friend’s birthday! Thanks.
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?
I think this will freeze ok, Mari, just frost it before serving.