This versatile cake has the perfect balance of sweetness, bitterness, and unique texture. Inspired by a popular “whole clementine cake,” with versions by Nigella Lawson, The New York Times, and others, I wanted to narrow my focus to highlight one of my ingredients: Meyer lemons. This version also varies from others because I keep the whole citrus raw- pith, peel, flesh, and all, to eliminate the step of boiling the citrus first. The result is deeply flavored with citrus, having the pleasant bitterness you get from a Negroni or radicchio. The dense, cheesecake-like texture comes from almond meal and labneh/labne/lebneh, a strained Middle Eastern-style yogurt. If you can’t source labne from your local supermarket, you can swap an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. You could also include some optional mix-ins such as poppy seeds and almond extract. Can't find Meyer lemons? You can use an equal amount of fresh clementines (about 3 small). All of these substitutions/additions compliment the flavors of the cake beautifully, and they all work as written. Note: if you don’t have a springform pan, just make sure to line your 8” round or square pan with a long strip of parchment paper with about 3” hanging over the sides to help you lift and remove the cake after it’s fully cooled.
- 6 ounces Meyer lemons (about 2 medium), cut into 1/8ths
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/ 3 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup labneh, room temperature
- 3 cups almond meal
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3/ 4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons poppy seeds, (add with vanilla extract in step 3)
- 1/ 2 teaspoon almond extract, (add with dry ingredients in step 4)
- Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Coat an 8” round or square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
Remove visible seeds from lemons. Puree granulated sugar with the Meyer lemons in a food processor for 1 minute until completely smooth.
Add eggs to a medium-large bowl and whisk vigorously for 2 minutes until very thickened and frothy. Add vegetable oil, olive oil, and vanilla extract and whisk again for another 1 minute. Whisk in labneh for about 30 seconds, then add in Meyer lemon mixture until completely combined.
Sift almond flour, baking powder, and kosher salt to bowl and stir until no dry spots remain. Transfer mixture to prepared pan.
Bake cake for 40-45 minutes, until edges are golden brown and the center is fully set- no jiggling! Let cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar, if desired, before slicing and serving.
Cake can be stored tightly wrapped at room temperature for 1 day or refrigerated for 1 week.