Easter Dessert: Lemon Upside-Down Cake

This is the perfect spring dessert!  The cake is so fluffy and moist — thanks to the milk and whipped egg whites.  And, it is filled with wonderful sweetness from the brown sugar and some tartness from the lemon.

Not many suggestions to improve this recipe!  I did have to cook the cake for a full 10 minutes longer than the recipe called for but I made no other changes.  And, I used regular lemons because the store didn’t have Meyer lemons.  Meyer lemons would be a bit sweeter.

When you are whipping the egg whites, make sure to use a clean stainless steel bowl.  Any grease in the bowl can impact forming the stiff peaks.  Also, use room temperature egg whites.  Cream of tartar, as called for in the recipe, provides some acidity and ensures that the egg whites bind together.

You can use the cake recipe as a base and substitute your favorite fruit.  Next time I might try pineapple!  Judging from how many slices Tim had, I think he’d be excited to try another flavor!

Lemon Upside-Down Cake
Food & Wine

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 thin-skinned lemons, sliced paper-thin crosswise, seeds discarded
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°. Set a 9-inch nonstick cake pan over moderate heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and when it is melted, stir in the brown sugar until dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Arrange the lemon slices in the melted brown sugar.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the egg yolks, one at a time. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the milk.

In a stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at high speed until firm peaks form. Fold one-third of the beaten whites into the batter, then fold in the rest. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

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