Meyer Lemon Shortcake

meyer lemon shortcakeI’ve been getting the most of out my Meyer lemons, if I do say so myself: one perfumed the cavity of this dancing chicken, some went into this marmalade, and this one, and yet another (cranberry + Meyer lemon) that I haven’t even told you about yet. I made this glowing, sunshiny Meyer curd, just to offset the drizzly, cold & grey January weather the other day, and then I candied one, with a bit of rosemary tossed into the syrup, just for swank. I still have a few small lemons left: it may be time for End Of Meyer Season-aritas. But before that: Meyer lemon shortcake.

On the heels of our recent conversation about the 5-ingredient recipe phenomenon, I had to chuckle to myself over this one. While the list of main ingredients is, in fact, quite minimal (lemons, eggs, butter, sugar, flour, cream & rosemary) and, other than Meyer lemons and rosemary, are basic pantry staples that you probably have in your house right now, this recipe is in fact an assemblage of four different recipes: curd, biscuits, whipped cream and candied lemon. And while none of the recipes is particularly difficult on its own, I’m sure the Thomas Keller-esque list of bulleted recipe ingredients is enough to put off many a stalwart kitchen enthusiast. But that would be a shame.

There should be nothing intimidating about biscuits, especially lightly sweetened shortcake biscuits that need neither fantastic rise nor exceptional flakiness to work well in shortcake. Candied citrus is about as easy as you get: combine equal parts water + sugar, toss in sliced citrus, and simmer. I’ll admit to being a bit intimidated by curd the first time I tried it; but the reality is that it’s quite simple and, like so many recipes, there is no “perfect” way to do it. Cook it a little less, cook it a little more; strain it or not; include zest or not; it will still be delicious.

I think the real truth behind these types of sub-recipe recipes, the one that never gets stated, is that no one makes all the recipes on the same day (not if they don’t have to). I made the Meyer curd three days ago. I candied the lemon yesterday. I baked up a batch of biscuits this morning and, once they were cool, whipped up some cream and put it all together, lickety-split. And maybe that’s the real message behind all of the 5-ingredient recipes out there: to make small, flavorful meal components, often, and then combine them in interesting ways. If so, I can get behind it. Because, as you might have noticed, each of the recipes below? 5 Ingredients Or Less!!!!!

Meyer lemon curd adapted from Classic Lemon Curd in in The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Shortcake biscuits adapted from Strawberry Shortcake by Wolfgang Puck.

meyer lemon shortcakeMeyer Lemon Shortcake

INGREDIENTS

Meyer lemon curd

  • 3 medium Meyer lemons (about 12 oz)
  • 4 large egg yolks (2 and 5/8 oz)
  • 10 tbsp (4 and 3/8 oz) sugar (refined white beet sugar)
  • 4 tbsp (2 oz) butter, cut into chunks
  • pinch sea salt

Candied Meyer lemon with rosemary

  • 1/2 cup sugar (refined white beet sugar)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium Meyer lemon, halved lengthwise, center rib & seeds removed, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 stem fresh rosemary

Shortcake biscuits

  • 2 and 3/4 cups (12 oz) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp (1 oz) sugar (organic turbinado)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 10 tbsp (5 oz) butter, chilled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing

Whipped cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream

METHODS

  1. Make Meyer lemon curd. Zest and juice the lemons. Microwave each zested lemon for 10 seconds prior to juicing to increase yield. Place zest in the bottom of a medium, heat-safe bowl; place a sieve on top of the bowl. Measure 6 tbsp (3 and 3/8 oz) of juice. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Stir in lemon juice, butter and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to the consistency of hollandaise sauce and/or reaches 188 degrees F. Do not allow to boil: if steam appears, remove from heat briefly, stirring, until steam dissipates. Pour through sieve into the bowl with the zest. Push through strainer, then gently fold in zest until uniform. Refrigerate to cool.
  2. Candy Meyer lemon slices. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and water. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add sliced lemon and rosemary stem, stirring to coat. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat until thick, syrupy and fragrant, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool, covered, then store refrigerated.
  3. Make biscuits. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (350 degrees F convection). Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and rosemary (if using) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add butter and pulse a few times, until chopped but a few larger-than-a-pea pieces remain. With the motor running, pour cream through the feed tube and process until just before the dough forms a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 or 3 turns, just until dough is uniform and will hold together. Roll out to 3/4-inch thickness and cut out 3-inch biscuits (you should have at least 8). Place biscuits on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking tray, brush tops lightly with cream, and bake until lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 25 – 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely before slicing for the cleanest slice.
  4. Whip cream. Using a mixer, food processor or blender, whip cold heavy cream until it is thick and stiff. Refrigerate to chill.
  5. Assemble shortcakes. Using a serrated knife, carefully slice a biscuit in half. Pile onto the bottom half: a dollop of lemon curd, a dollop of whipped cream, the biscuit top, another dollop of whipped cream, a slice or two of candied Meyer lemon and finally a drizzle of the candied lemon syrup. Garnish with a few rosemary leaves.

Yields 6 – 8 servings (depending on how generously you dollop).

meyer lemon shortcakeOPTIONS

  1. This dessert is sweet: sweeter than I normally like, but still not as sweet as many commercial varieties. I’ve suggested reducing the sugar in the shortcake biscuits (from 1/4 cup to 1/8 cup, or 2 tbsp) and whipped cream (I added 2 tbsp sugar originally) in order to lower the sweetness factor a bit. If you have a sweet tooth, however, you may not find my original version too sweet.
  2. To add a litle more rosemary flavor and as a way to counteract the sweetness, a bit of minced rosemary in the biscuits is a nice option.

STORE

Store components separately, refrigerated, and assemble just prior to serving. Candied lemon will last months in the refrigerator; lemon curd for about 1 week; whipped cream and biscuits are best made fresh.

SEASON

Winter.

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18 comments

  1. Those little cakes look just wonderfull! I also like a lot the idea of rosmary in the biscuit.
    Meyer lemons are not easy to get over here and I have therefore never tasted them, but I’m sure they are most delicious.

  2. Anduin

    I’d like to make something like this for a potluck. Is there a way to cheat? Smaller biscuits, a layered bar version? I know it won’t be as beautiful, but I’d like to serve more people.

    • You can definitely make smaller biscuits: in fact, I followed Wolfgang Puck’s recipe and made 3-inch biscuits even though I *knew* they would be too big for me. I was right, and should have made them 2-inch. I think a mini version with 1-inch biscuits would be every bit as beautiful, and I think the beauty of this is that you can make all of the components separately and let people assemble as they will.

      I have a blood orange curd bar recipe here: http://localkitchenblog.com/2012/03/09/blood-orange-curd-bars/ But I honestly wasn’t all that fond of the pastry bit. But if you have a favorite, you could certainly fill that with Meyer curd, then top with whipped cream and drizzle with candied lemon just before serving.

  3. I always know that you can use rosemary in dessert, but I am hesitate to. Your shortcake looks really good. I think I may need to give it a try sometimes soon.

  4. Cam

    Too bad my Meyer lemons disappeared into preserved lemon jars cuz now I have a craving for lemon curd and biscuits. Thanks for the microwave juicing trick, will try it next have to try it out time.

  5. Pingback: Ice Box Cookies | familyrecipebooks

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