Whole Citrus Upside Down Cake

Meyer lemons have always been an elusive fancy fruit in my eyes. So when I spotted a 4lb bag of them for $4.49 at Costco, I perked up at my chance to finally try these  pristinely smooth and golden fruit. Citrus in December may seem unseasonally-spirited of me, but living in South Florida where I harvested a papaya from the backyard yesterday and neighborhood green coconuts today (in my short sleeves), seasonality is easily blurred. Just think of this as a fresh take on fruit cake.

And what puts the meyer in a meyer lemon anyway? Turns out Frank N. Meyer, an “agricultural explorer,” discovered this cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange while in China in the early 1900s and is credited with introducing it in the States. The meyer lemon season lasts from November till April, making it a winter fruit after all.

This year my family decided to host a Christmas Eve party which to me translated as plenty of taste-testers for a new recipe. With inspiration from our Orange Creamsicle Cake recipe, this recipe uses whole meyer lemons for a moist, full-flavored cake and a combination of citrus for a colorful mosaic topping. Wishing everyone zesty holidays!

Whole Citrus Upside Down Cake

Makes one 8″ round cakeIMG_6363


For the topping

  • 1 grapefruit*, sliced into rounds
  • 2 meyer lemons, sliced into rounds
  • 3 clementines, sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp water

For the cake

  • 2 meyer lemons (230g)
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 180g (1.5 cups) flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda

*note: the grapefruit pith has a moderately bitter taste so cut away as much as possible; alternatively, substitute with a different fruit


  1. For the cake: In a medium pot, place 2 meyer lemons and add water till the lemons float. Boil for 10 minutes (the peels should get very soft). Run the lemons under cold water to cool. Slice them in half and carefully remove all the seeds.
  2. In a food processor, puree cream cheese and the lemon halves (rinds and all). Transfer to a large mixing bowl and combine with sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add this dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix till just combined.
  4. For the topping: Cut the rinds off the grapefruit (you can leave the meyer lemon and clementine rinds on). Combine 1/4 cup sugar in 2 tbsp of water in the bottom of a 8″ round cake pan lined with parchment paper. Arrange grapefruit, meyer lemon, and clementine slices on top.
  5. Pour the cake batter onto the citrus topping. Bake at 350F for 40min or till a toothpick comes out clean.


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