Filed under: Bundt Cakes
January 28, 2020

Meyer Lemon Cake with Sumac

Fluffy and tender cake flavored with the floral notes of meyer lemons and a sour pop of ground sumac. This cake is sweet and tart and is soaked in a lemon syrup to accentuate that sharp contrast in flavor. 

5 from 2 votes
Yield: 1 large bundt
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Meyer Lemon Cake Bundt Slice

One of my favorite desserts ever is Ina’s lemon cake. It’s not the cake part that gets me, it’s the lemony syrup that the cake is soaked in. It makes the edges both super sweet and sharp, and the combination is my absolute dessert weakness. If you like lemon curd you’d like the syrup; both have that addictive quality of perfectly balanced sugar and acid.

This cake was made with Ina’s in mind. Here, meyer lemons. I did tell you I had a few bags in the kitchen I needed to use up. Meyers are more floral than a regular lemon, a little less tart and less acidic – hence the addition of sumac to the batter. What is sumac? Sumac is a fruit ground into a spice, typically used in salads, on meats, and you’ve likely seen it sprinkled on hummus.

 

Why this Sumac Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake is so good

So you might be thinking, if sumac is a spice used as a dry rub or on salads why use it in a cake? Well, adding sumac to a baked good helps to accentuate the citrus’ tart quality. I’ve found it goes really well with the floral, mildly acidic meyer lemons and, it also adds a beautiful, natural pretty pink pop to the cake.

The combination of sumac and meyer lemon here is a perfect harmony. The interior of the cake, thanks to yogurt and lots of air beaten into the sugar and butter is very tender. The edges are squishy with the yummiest syrup. For toppings, I’ve done powdered sugar on top or a glaze but really it’s just for looks, the cake doesn’t need it as it strikes that perfect balance between sweet and sour.

 

Recipe Ingredients

Meyer Lemons: If you cannot find meyer lemons, you can make the cake with orange juice and zest. Meyer’s are somewhere between an orange and a lemon and with the addition of sumac you are looking at a very fitting substitute. I would however, use regular lemons for the syrup in this case – the sharpness of that syrup is what really brings this cake home and the orange won’t have enough to do the job.

Sumac : I always buy it from nearby middle eastern stores but if there aren’t any in your vicinity, this is the one I’d recommend on amazon. You might think why buy a big pack for just one cake? But you are going to LOVE it. You’ll be putting it on your salads everyday!

Butter: Softened to room temperature so it will beat easily with the sugar (and aerate). If using salted butter, reduce the added salt and add just a pinch of fine sea salt to the batter. European or american style butter is fine.

All purpose flour: of a medium or low protein content. I use Gold Medal or King Arthur.

Fine sea salt: fine means it will dissolve easily and quickly into the batter. Don’t use table salt which has a ‘salty’ taste.

Yogurt: Greek yogurt is thick and has been strained to remove excess water. Nonfat or full fat works fine.

Eggs: Whole large eggs, best to bring them to room temperature before you begin. Do this by placing them in a bowl of warm water.

How to make meyer lemon cake with sumac

Start by buttering the bundt pan and then flouring it to prevent the cake from sticking. I tend to use a baking spray that has flour in it (in my experience it most effectively prevents sticking.

Use a stand mixer or a hand mixer to make the batter and set the sugar in the bowl. Zest the meyer lemons over the sugar with a fine zester (not a grater – this will give you too much pith from the lemon and make the batter sour). Rub the zest into the sugar, this helps release the oils from the zest for better flavor.

Add the rest of the flavorings (sumac, vanilla and salt) and the softened butter. Affix the paddle attachment and beat the butter until the mix is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed so it aerates evenly.

With the mixer on, add the eggs one at a time – allowing each to fully incorporate before adding another. Scrape the bowl as needed.

In a small separate bowl, whisk together the meyer lemon juice and the yogurt.

Add the flour to the bowl and begin mixing it in. Pour the lemon/yogurt in as it mixes.

Beat the batter until it’s fully mixed, but stop as soon as it is to avoid over mixing. Scrape the bowl as needed.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Smooth over the top to even it out. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean.

Out of the oven, make the lemon syrup by cooking the lemon juice and sugar in a small pot just until the sugar dissolves.

Out of the oven, poke holes all over the cake with a cake tester or a skewer. Pour the lemon soak over the cake. Let the cake set for about ten minutes, then overturn it onto a plate.

If you’d like to do a glaze, combine 3 tablespoons of citrus juice with 1 cup powdered sugar (in the photos I used blood orange juice so it would be pink!). Pour over the cooled cake.

Recipe for Sumac Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake

Note: this recipe can be halved and baked in loaf pan.



Sumac Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake

Fluffy and tender cake flavored with the floral notes of meyer lemons and a sour pop of ground sumac. This cake is sweet and tart and is soaked in a lemon syrup to accentuate that sharp contrast in flavor. 
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 1 large bundt
5 from 2 votes

Ingredients

Meyer Lemon Sumac Cake

  • Zest of 4 meyer lemons
  • 400g or 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 226g or 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 375g or 3 cups all-purpose flour if using cups to measure the flour, fluff the flour with a fork then sprinkle into the measuring cup and level with a butterknife
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 90g or ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons meyer lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 140g or ½ cup plain yogurt greek or not

Meyer Lemon Syrup

  • ½ cup sugar 100g
  • ½ cup meyer lemon juice

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter and flour a 10 cup bundt pan.
  • Zest the lemon over the sugar then rub the sugar between your fingers to release the oils in the zest. Add the butter, vanilla, salt and sumac and beat in a stand mixer until very light and pale.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a full 30 seconds before adding another.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and yogurt.
  • Add dry ingredients (flour and leavening) to the bowl and beat on low. Once the dry are halfway mixed in, add the lemon juice and yogurt.
  • Beat until the batter is fully mixed together, scraping the bottom to ensure all bottom bits are mixed in and beating again.
  • Scoop batter into prepared bundt pan.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool briefly in the pan while you prepare the syrup. If you have a long thin cake tester, poke lots of holes into and all over the cake.
  • In a small pot, make the syrup: cook together the sugar and lemon juice until the sugar is melted and the mix begins to boil.
  • Once it’s done, shut off the heat and pour the syrup over the cake while it’s still in the pan.
  • Let the syrup set into the cake for about 10 minutes. Then turn the cake over onto a cooling rack and pour the rest of the syrup on top.
  • Once cake is cool and syrup is set, dust with powdered sugar or make a glaze with citrus juice and powdered sugar.

Notes

The cake is pictured with a blood orange glaze: whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar and 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice. Drizzle over the cake. 

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Recipe Reviews




  1. 5 stars
    I adore Sam’s recipes and flavor combinations and this one is a winner! The addition of sumac adds an extra bit of citric acid zing in each bite kind of like eating a Sour Patch Kid. The cake crumb is super tender and I didn’t think this cake needed a glaze as the syrup was a nice addition by itself.

    • Kara, I’m so happy you liked it!! Totally agree that with the syrup, it doesn’t need a glaze (I originally did it so the cake wouldn’t be so ‘brown’ in the photos but left it off when I made it recently.)

  2. 5 stars
    I made this recipe last night for a colleague’s birthday. He specifically requested Lemon Cake so I knew that I needed to try this recipe. The only thing that happened with my cake, that I wasn’t a fan of, was the lemon syrup concentrated into one small section of the cake, creating a big moist spot of lip-puckering tang in each slice. Next time I’d poke more holes in it, maybe go for a more liquid syrup (I may have over-cooked the sugar & lemon mix), and save more of the syrup for a pour once I flipped it out of the pan.
    I went without the glaze as I was transporting the cake to work and didn’t want to deal with the hassle of the drizzle and a cake board. All in all, a pretty good recipe for a delicious lemony bundt cake!

  3. Pretty poor recipe in all. If I didn’t know how to bake I would be beating fridge cold butter by hand trying to cream it with sugar. Also you add the dry ingredients into a bowl and incorporate but what exactly are you incorporating? The already whisked flour and baking powder? Putting a picture of a different glaze to the one you used in the recipe is also pretty ridiculous and misleading. Recipes are supposed to be specific and make sense, this one obviously hasn’t even been proofread

    • Appreciate the feedback, I’ve tried to clear up the ‘dry ingredient incorporation’ step. Btw, the glaze is in addition to the syrup (not instead of) – and it’s mentioned in the final step and notes.