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Last week I flew to southern California, expecting a warm embrace from the typically postcard-perfect area. Instead, the days were battered ocean gray and damp with mist. Tired and chilled to the bone on a location shoot, the only consolation were the orbs of bright yellow and orange citrus weighing down the tree branches. They were luminous and made me throw out my ideas of cozy, spice-laden cakes for a while.
This cake celebrates the vibrant fruits of winter, specifically the sweet, juicy Meyer lemon whose perfume is solace from the cold and cutting weather. Grated zest is pulsed or rubbed with fingertips into sugar to release the bittersweet oils of the lemon. The effect is a light cake infused with flavor. Slathers of curd, flavored in the same manner, gush from between the layers and a simple dusting of powdered sugar blankets the top. Serve this cake during the winter months when the fruit is in season.