Life has handed me lemons. Meyer lemons to be exact. Hundreds of them. Not only did I make lemonade (well, I actually made lemon juice, which will eventually be turned into lemonade), I made lemon chicken, lemon curd, and a verrrrry lemony hummus. Using my trusty microplane, I amassed a pile of lemon zest large enough to get me through the next year, if not longer. I'm really hoping that lemon zest freezes well–anyone know for sure? As an added bonus from my zesting session, I also got a great tricep workout…..but only in one arm. Who knew that it could be so exhausting?
All of this juicing, baking, and zesting, and I still have at least 100 beautiful round Meyer lemons (and 1 grapefruit) sitting in a bin on our kitchen counter. After years of thinking that the lemon tree that we planted out back was, well, a lemon because it hardly produced any fruit, suddenly this year we had upwards of 500 pieces. Even though we've given them away by the bagful, by the beginning of this week we'd barely made a dent in the supply. Maybe I should set up a lemonade stand on the Strip, right next to those guys who hand out the pamphlets featuring, ahem, "local culture." I could probably make a pretty penny.
Last Sunday, Eric went out back and harvested the last of the Meyer lemons so that the trees could grow a new crop next year. I don't know if you could actually call what he did "harvesting," but it's probably as close to a true harvest as we are ever going to get in Las Vegas. That day, I had also gone to Trader Joe's, where they had an amazing deal on a beautiful quart container of fresh blueberries. I have always loved the combination of blueberries and lemon in baked goods. Adding a bit of lemon zest to a blueberry muffin or scone really brightens the flavor. These lovely mini pound cakes are perfect for a brunch or for a homemade gift. Adding the soaking syrup and glaze are techniques that I borrowed from Ina Garten's pound cake recipe, because they really up the lemon ante and they help to keep the cakes moist. Here are my extra tips for making these pint-sized pound cakes:
- If Meyer lemons are not available, then certainly substitute regular lemons.
- The pound cakes can be baked but not glazed in advance. Wrap the cakes tightly in plastic and store at room temperature for 1 day. The unglazed cakes can also be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 3 weeks.
- I love the combination of lemon, blueberry, and ginger, but as I have noted below, the ginger is optional. As an alternative you could add ground cinnamon.
- Either full-fat or low-fat yogurt may be used for this recipe. I wouldn't recommend the fat-free variety, as it would result in a less moist cake.
- If you decide to use frozen blueberries for this recipe, reserve some of the flour at the beginning and toss the blueberries in the flour before adding them to the batter. This will help to prevent them from sinking during the baking process. Fold the blueberries into the batter gently, so that you don't turn the batter blue!
- Instead of making mini loaves, you can make a few larger loaves or one large bundt. Increase the baking time accordingly.
Mini Blueberry-Meyer Lemon Pound Cakes
Makes 6 mini loaves
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
4 large eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
12 ounces fresh blueberries (about 2 3/4 cups)
For the soaking syrup
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
For the glaze
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2-3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray 6 mini loaf pans with non-stick baking spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, almond extract, and lemon zest, mixing until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in the yogurt.
On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Divide the batter among the prepared loaf pans, filling a little over halfway and smoothing the tops. Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. Cool the loaves for 5 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
Prepare the soaking syrup: In a small saucepan, heat the lemon juice and sugar over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly. Brush the soaking syrup over the tops of the loaves, allowing it to soak in before adding more. Let the loaves cool completely.
Prepare the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and just enough lemon juice to yield a thick but pourable glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled loaves and allow to set before serving.