Nothing says summer like lemonade, and nothing says celebration like a cake. Here is a beautiful but casual cake that serves a crowd, pleases the palate, and is a cinch to make and serve. It is a cheery nod to lemonade, which takes the roles of liquid and sugar in the batter. Lemon zest bumps up the citrus, while whole lemon slices create a buttery, toothsome, beautiful top. (An optional sprinkling of coconut or fresh corn can offer a delectable addition between the lemon slices, but the cake is fabulous without either.) A handful of corn meal and almond meal make for a truly tender crumb, and the lemon slices soften as they bake, ready to be sliced or bitten straight through.
This recipe first appeared on my web site, buttersugarflowers.com —ButterSugarFlowers
a 9x13 pan (12-24 slices)
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cups sugar, divided
3 medium to large Meyer lemons
1/3 cup fresh corn kernels or unsweetened shredded coconut (both optional)
Line the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan with parchment. Whisk together melted butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar until just pasty and even. Spread evenly onto the parchment. Finely zest the rinds of the lemons; set zest aside. Cut off ends of lemons; discard.
Slice lemons into rings 1/3 to 1/2 inch wide. Carefully pick out any seeds and discard them. Arrange lemon slices on the buttery, sugary bottom of pan, touching each other and edges of pan. (Feel free to trim them if they don't quite fit; you may or may not use all the slices, depending on the size of your lemons.) If using, sprinkle the corn or coconut in the open spaces between the lemon slices. Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, remaining ½ cup sugar, oil, and vanilla until smooth and even. Sift over the egg mixture: flour, almond meal, corn meal, salt, baking soda and powder. As you begin stirring, gradually add the lemonade. Mix well, until smooth and even, folding in the reserved lemon zest at the last minute. Pour batter over the lemon slices and bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. When ready, the cake will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out batter-free.
Let cake cool completely in pan, then cover pan with foil for easy transport to your picnic (up to 12 hours away). When ready to serve, remove foil, loosen sides of cake with a knife, then invert cake onto a large cutting board, platter, or lined cookie sheet. Remove parchment. Cut into squares with a sharp knife (slicing straight through the lemons is fine), and serve on napkins, plates, or bare hands.