Take advantage of the citrus season and make this delicate Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake cake that guarantees to brighten up your day!
Bright, sweet, and tart. Citrus fruits are the sunshine of the cold season. Right here in California, I am so grateful to find fresh Meyer lemons at my local farmers market from the start of November all the way through May. Said to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, Meyer Lemons remind me of my favorite Japanese Yuzu. Both citrus fruits have an incredibly refreshing aroma and fragrance that they are best used in dressings and desserts.
Whenever I scoop up some of these seasonal fruits, I can’t wait to make this Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake. A light, airy cake that is bursting with the sweet scent of lemons. It’s a perfect slice of cake to enjoy with coffee or tea!
What is Meyer Lemon?
Some of you may not have heard of Meyer lemons. I didn’t know anything about it until I came to the United States. When I Googled Meyer lemon, I found out they originated in China (that was unexpected) and were brought to the U.S. by Frank Meyer – which explains the name.
But Meyers lemons didn’t become popular until the end of the 1990s when chefs like Alice Waters at Chez Panisse started to use in “California Cuisine” and Martha Stewart featured them in her recipes (source).
Meyer lemons are moderately acidic and do not have the tangy flavor of regular lemons. They even taste slightly sweet. My favorite part of Meyer lemons is their rinds. They smell so good that if there were a pile of Meyer lemon zest I feel like I could dive right in!
Another Meyer lemon recipe: Meyer Lemon Pound Cake
Airy, Fluffy, Not-So-Sweet Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake
Chiffon cake has been one of my favorite desserts to make at home. Once you learn the trick of making a delicate, frothy meringue, the rest of it is rather straightforward.
Popular Dessert Cake In Japan
The Japanese love a good cake! As the texture is light and airy, chiffon cakes are a popular dessert cake in Japan. They are made of simple ingredients like oil, eggs, sugar, flour, and flavorings. Personally, I enjoy making chiffon cakes at home because I can balance the taste with a key flavor so it’s not overly sweet. With their intense and natural sweetness, Meyer lemons make an excellent flavoring for the cake.
Can we substitute regular lemons for Meyer Lemons?
Yes, you can, in most recipes. Just keep in mind that the Meyer lemon is less tart and slightly sweeter. You probably want to increase the amount of sugar a tiny bit and use less juice. I haven’t tested this chiffon cake recipe with regular lemons. If I tried it one day, I’ll write down the measurement in the recipe (please remind me).
How to Make The Perfect Chiffon Cake
If you are a beginner baker and wish to give this chiffon cake a try, you will want to master the technique of whisking the meringue (beaten egg whites). Just like any baking project, it takes some practice, but the result is always rewarding.
I have a comprehensive guide on How to Make The Perfect Chiffon Cake for your reference. You’ll find everything you need to know, including the right baking pan, troubleshooting, and FAQs. Have a read before you start.
And while the citrus fruit is still in season, I hope you grab a bag and make this delightful Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake!
More Amazing Dessert Cake Recipes You’ll Love:
- Matcha Green Tea Chiffon Cake
- Earl Grey Chiffon Cake
- Orange Chiffon Cake
- Chocolate Chiffon Cake
- Matcha Mille Crepe Cake
- Castella Cake (Easy Japanese Honey Sponge Cake)
Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake
- 3 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell) (separated)
- 3 oz sugar (measure ½ cup and remove 1 Tbsp; separated)
- 3 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.)
- 2 Meyer lemons (for zesting and juicing)
- 2.6 oz cake flour (⅔ cup and remove 2 tsp; If you're using a cup measurement, please follow this method to measure. Otherwise, the amount of flour tends to be more than you need. You can make your Homemade Cake Flour.)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar/powdered sugar (for sprinkling on the cake)
Meyer Lemon Icing Glaze (Optional)
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar/powdered sugar
- ½ Meyer lemon (for 1 Tbsp juice)
- Gather all the ingredients. You will also need a 17cm (7") chiffon cake pan. Make sure you use the correct chiffon cake pan. The best types are the aluminum ones with a removable base (Do not use non-stick bakeware for chiffon cake – it will not work). Do not grease the mold because the cake needs to cling on the sides and center of the pan for support as it rises or it will collapse.
- Preheat the oven to 340ºF (170ºC). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC). Separate 3 eggs to yolks and whites. Egg yolks in a large bowl, and whites in a smaller bowl.
- In the bowl with egg yolks, add roughly ⅓ of granulated sugar and whisk until creamy pale yellow color.
- Add 3 Tbsp (40 ml) vegetable oil and zest of 1-2 Meyer lemons (I love more zest in the cake so I use 2, but you can use one).
- Cut Meyer lemons in half. Juice all of it (4 halves).
- If you don’t have 4 Tbsp (¼ cup or 60 ml) of juice, add water.
- Add 4 Tbsp (¼ cup or 60 ml) juice to the egg mixture and whisk well.
- Sift 75 g (2.6 oz) cake flour and 1 tsp baking powder into the egg mixture. Whisk until totally incorporated and make sure there are no lumps.
- Using a stand mixer (make sure there is no trace of water or oil), whip the egg whites on medium low sped (speed 4) till opaque, foamy and bubbly. Add ⅓ of the remaining granulated sugar and continue whipping.
- After 30 seconds or so, increase the stand mixer speed to high (speed 10) and add the remaining sugar slowly in small increments.
- It takes about 2-3 minutes until stiff peaks form (from the moment you switched to speed 10, but this is just a rough estimate). To check on stiff peaks, pull up your whisk and see if the egg whites go straight up (stiff peak) and just the tip is soft enough that it folds over, like taking a bow.
- Using a whisk, fold in ⅓ of the egg whites in the batter until the mixture is homogeneous.
- Fold in the rest of egg whites in 2-3 increments and mix gently until the mixture is homogeneous.
- Pour the batter into the ungreased 17 cm (7”) chiffon cake pan in same location to prevent from forming more bubbles.
- To remove or prevent air pockets before baking, run a skewer (chopstick, knife or spatula) through the batter and then drop the pan gently on the kitchen counter a few times.
- Bake at 340ºF (170ºC) for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed. If the top gets burn too quickly, cover the top loosely with aluminum foil.
- As soon as you take out the cake pan from the oven, drop it gently on the kitchen counter to stop shrinking. The cake must be cooled upside down in its pan so that it stretches downward instead of collapsing. Stick the cake pan on a tall heavy bottle or invert the cake pan onto a cooling rack (if you use angel food cake pan). Let it cool completely.
- To extract the cake, run a thin sharp knife or thin offset spatula around both the outer and inner edge of the cake.
- Remove the cake from the pan and run the knife on the bottom. Move onto a serving plate.
- Dust powder sugar on top, if you like, and enjoy!
- [Optional] To Make Meyer Lemon Icing Glaze, place powder sugar in a small bowl and stir in 1 Tbsp. Meyer lemon juice using the half Meyer lemon you kept from step 4. The glaze should be thick, but pourable. Add more sugar or Meyer lemon juice as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle over the cake using a spoon and enjoy!
- Make sure your beaters and mixing bowl are clean and dry. A speck of oil or egg yolk on either one can minimize the volume of the beaten egg whites.
- Avoid plastic bowls, as even clean ones may hold oily residue that can affect the beaten quality of the egg whites.
- Use a bowl that’s wide enough to keep the beaters from being buried in the egg whites.
- Do not overbeat or underbeat the egg whites or your cake may fall. Egg whites should have a stiff peak, pointing straight up (or maybe a little bit folding over just at the very tips).
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on Mar 2, 2016. It has been edited and republished in February 2020.