Meyer Lemon Upside Down Poppy Seed Cake + 5 Must Try Upside Down Cakes!


I nearly missed these smooth skinned beauties neatly stacked like a pyramid of little suns, nestled between the overpriced organic lemons and limes.  I blame my 3-year-old for the near miss.  Grocery shopping with him is like wrestling a bear while trying to maintain some composure and getting everything on my list.  A nearly impossible feat! And yet somehow, out of the corner of my eye or the eyes that exist on the back of my head, I noticed the plump, canary yellow orbs.  I grabbed one, rubbed my thumb across its glossy skin and held it to my nose.  Sweet, floral, bright; a perfect contrast to the heavy, cheese and meat laced comfort food coming out of my kitchen this time of year.

Unsure of what to do with them or the $2.99 a pound price tag, I placed a few in my cart anyway; picked up my 3-year-old who was elbow deep in the organic (oh c’mon) chocolate malt balls candy bin, which, by the way, is oddly placed in between the produce and fancy cheese, (another WTF moment in a long month of WTF moments); and carried on.

I admired the little lemons sitting in our fruit bowl on our sometimes sticky, sometimes clean, kitchen island for a few days before deciding to make an upside down cake.  Sexier recipes for a lemon curd, preserved lemons, cupcakes and pastry cream enticed me briefly before I settled on this 1920s throwback.  Something about taking an old-fashion dessert and modernizing it with Meyer lemons and poppy seeds appealed to me post inauguration.

So I got to work thinly slicing a few lemons, melting butter and sugar together to create a syrupy, caramel like topping and carefully placing the lemons on top of the delicious goo. Next, I made a butter cake batter adding Meyer lemon zest and poppy seeds which made it taste exactly like my Mom’s famous lemon poppy-seed tea cake.  Fifty-five minutes later I had a tender, sweet, subtly tart and modern upside down cake.  I hope this cake brightens your January as much as it did ours.

Meyer Lemon Upside Down Poppy Seed Cake

recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated Fresh Fruit Upside Down Cake

Serves 8 -10

Ingredients for topping:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

3 Meyer lemons, sliced 1/4 inch thick, seeds removed


Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round pan thoroughly.  Set aside.  Using a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add both brown sugars , stir and cook until the mixture foams, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Pour the butter/sugar mixture into your prepared pan and spread evenly across the bottom of the pan with a spatula.  Arrange the lemon slices in concentric circles.  Set aside.

Ingredients for cake:

1 + 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons cornmeal

1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

zest of 1 Meyer lemon

2/3 cup of milk

Directions for cake:

Place oven rack in the lower middle position and pre-heat your oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream the butter at medium speed.  Slowly add the sugar followed by the lemon zest.  Beat until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the egg yolks and vanilla, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula once or twice.  Next, reduce the speed to the lowest setting and add the dry ingredients and the milk, alternating until both are incorporated into the batter.  Mix until the batter just becomes smooth.

In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in one-quarter of the egg whites to lighten the batter.  Then fold in the remaining egg whites until they are completely incorporated.  Pour the batter into your prepared pan, spreading evenly with a spatula.  Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 55-60 minutes.

Allow cake to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes.  Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan.  Place a serving plate over the pan, hold in place and flip so the cake is now sitting on the platter.  Remove cake pan.  If some lemon slices stick to the bottom of the cake pan, remove them and place on top of the cake.  Serve at room temperature.  Enjoy!

**Cake will last two days stored in an air-tight container, at room temperature.**

5 Must Check Our Upside Down Cakes

Craving  more citrus in your life?  Head to Broma Bakery for an upside down winter citrus cake that is sure to brighten any January day.

Before pear season is gone, make Fix Feast Flair’s cardamom pear upside down cake.

Love grapefruit?  Check out Food on Fifth’s recipe for a grapefruit upside down cake.

Spring will come and when it does make Martha’s plum-blueberry upside down cake.  This is on my must make list.

I love all things banana flavored so I need to make David Lebovitz’s banana upside down cake, knowing my picky nine-year old will refuse to eat it.  Banana hater.

Lemon Crepe Cake + 5 Can’t Miss Crepe Links!

If my memory withstands, he tried to win her back with crepes. Or maybe it was his killer meatloaf, stuffed with cheese and topped with a sweet glaze.  A decadent vodka penne also comes to mind.

The morning Dad left, his most prized possessions were haphazardly stuffed into Hefty bags and left by the side door.  When I asked him what was happening, he remained silent, a look of defeat on his face.  Or maybe it was fear.  What was next for him?  Would there be more life?  Would the life he thought he could have suit him better than the life he already made with my mother?

The months following were a bit of a blur.  Mom attempted normalcy and routine for us, but her broken heart swallowed her whole.  Working and caring for 3 children while trying to navigate our new reality was like trying to swim with your legs bound together, your arms flailing and tired.

Exhaustion and, maybe, a bit of compassion on my mother’s part likely contributed to Dad’s weekly meal preparation.  A couple times a week, he showed up with a bag full of groceries and a six pack of Budweiser.  After opening a beer, he got to work, making the sure the meal was ready and we were fed before she got home.  As mystifying as his helpful behavior was to us, we said nothing.  We watched TV with full bellies, happy Dad was near, yet confused as hell by the sudden change.

And later, I held my breath when I heard her keys in the door. Mom, still in her scrubs, exhausted from a long shift at the hospital, barely looked at my father as she made herself a plate.  She headed for the living room, curled up so small next to the coffee table, and ate her meal, barely saying a word to anyone, staring straight ahead, pretending to watch TV.

She occasionally thanked him and sometimes even complimented his food.  Yet, no matter how tasty the crepes or meatloaf, reconciliation would not happen.  The war had started.  And for them it was easier to be at war than to forgive 17 years of disappointments.

As I rotated the hot pan in a slow circle, watching the crepe batter spread and thin out until the heat began to cook the bottom to a golden brown, I thought of Dad, twenty years earlier, doing the same thing in a house that once sheltered his life.  I always thought his return was about her.  Now it seems she was his mirage.  Dad showed up and made dinner for us.  Our relationship with him, now strangely independent of our mother, began again with a meal.

Crepe Cake with Lemon Curd, Blackberry Compote and Coconut Whipped Cream

Serves 6-8

Crepe and lemon curd recipe adapted from Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen

Blackberry compote adapted from the Food Network

Coconut whipped cream from Oh She Glows

**Make lemon curd, compote and whipped cream before making the crepes.  The curd, compote and whipped cream can be made ahead of time.  This cake is best the day it is made.**

Ingredients for the lemon curd:

6 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces


Using a medium saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar, zest, lemon juice and salt and whisk until well combined.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the curd is thick enough to cover the back of your spoon, about 8 minutes.  (If you drag your finger across the back of your spoon, the curd should leave a line and not run together.) Do not let the curd boil!

Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl.  Stir in the butter, one piece at a time, until it is totally melted.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Be sure to place the plastic wrap directly on the curd so a skin doesn’t form.  Refrigerate for an hour or up to 4 days.

Next make your blackberry compote.

Ingredients for Blackberry Compote:

2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup sucanat or sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons water


Using a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of blackberries, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and water.  Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the remaining cup of blackberries and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Ingredients for Coconut Whipped Cream:

1 can of full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight

2-3 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Chill your bowl for about 5-10 minutes before whipping the coconut milk.  Open coconut milk and pour out liquid.  Dump the solid coconut milk into your bowl.  Whip the cream until it is light and fluffy.  Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla.  Whip until combined.  Set aside or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  You will need to whip it again, as it will harden.

Now make your crepes!

 Ingredients for Crepes:

3 large eggs, beaten

4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 + 1/2 cups whole milk

1 + 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Grab a large bowl, crack open eggs and whisk until broken up.  Add the melted butter, milk, flour, salt and vanilla extract and whisk until well combined.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Use a large non-stick pan and rub the pan with a paper towel dipped in oil.  I used canola oil.  Heat the pan over medium heat.  Before making the crepes, check the pan to see if it is properly heated.  Sprinkle some water on the pan, if the water dances around and evaporates it is ready.

Pour a 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and tilt the pan around in a circle to spread out the batter.  Cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side for another minute.  Remove from the heat and place on a plate.  Continue with the rest of the batter.  You should end with about 12-14 crepes.

Assembly Time!

Place one crepe on a plate and evenly spread about 2 tablespoons of curd on the crepe. Place another crepe on top of the last crepe, add curd.  Continue stacking crepes until all the crepes and curd are gone.

Top the crepe cake a large dollop of coconut whipped cream.  Serve blackberry compote on the side.  This cake is best the day it is made.  Enjoy!

5 Crepe Cake Links

Brighten up your January with Hummingbird High’s coconut crepe cake.

Have a birthday coming up? Skip the traditional cake and make Will Cook For Smiles Boston cream crepe cake.  Yum!

If the Necco Sweathearts already out the at grocery store didn’t remind you, I will.  Valentine’s Day is coming up.  Spice it up, literally, and head to Food 52 for their spicy chocolate mousse crepe cake recipe.  Sick of chocolate?  Try a red velvet crepe cake.  Sweet & Savory has the recipe for you. Check it out!

Looking for a savory and sweet crepe option?  Half Baked Harvest has a recipe for spinach artichoke and brie crepes with sweet honey sauce.  I can’t wait to try this!