My mother in law, Anita, has the most beautiful citrus trees growing in her yard here in California. She grows everything from oranges to kaffir limes and Meyer lemons. Her entire backyard is nothing short of a citrus smorgasbord! Whenever we go to visit, she sends us home loaded down with big bags of all of the beautiful citrus fruits she grows and we spend the next few days soaking up all of the amazing flavors and aromas.
Last week Anita loaded our bags with Meyer lemons for the first time this season! I was so excited to get home and into the kitchen, my head was swimming with potential possibilities for them. Maybe an easy skillet cake or a pan of Meyer lemon bars. Meyer lemon curd crossed my mind too, because what is better than slathering everything that comes out of your kitchen with sweet, tangy lemon curd? Nothing, I tell you! Then as we were merging onto the 405 freeway it hit me, the perfect vessel for those Meyer lemons was a quick bread. Think Starbucks lemon loaf kicked up a notch and made gluten-free for all of us to enjoy. You with me?
Maybe you are thinking that gluten-free bread couldn't possibly be as tasty as the real deal gluten-filled version. I assure you it can be! Gluten-free quick breads are pretty easy to make and delicious when you use the right flour. I like to keep good quality all-purpose gluten-free flour like Better Batter, Cup 4 Cup, or King Arthur on hand for recipes like this. They are pretty much interchangeable with regular all-purpose flour and produce a delightfully moist bread that has a great texture and crumb. No fuss, no blending flours and starches, and no worrying that it won't turn out perfect every time.
When you are buying Meyer lemons, look for fruits that are plump and deeply yellow all over. If you see any hint of green, the lemons are under-ripe. The fruit should be firm but give under slight pressure and should feel a little bit heavy for their size. They will smell sweet and floral, like orange blossoms--totally intoxicating if you ask me. Meyer lemons are not true lemons, but believed to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, which makes them sweeter than regular lemons. If you can't find Meyer lemons, don't fret. You can simply substitute regular lemon juice and zest in this recipe; just expect the flavor to be more tart than if you used Meyer lemons.
- 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons for dusting the pan
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder see note
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 teaspoons poppy seeds
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or refrigerated coconut milk not the canned kind!
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract see note
- 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing the pan
For the glaze (optional)
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar sifted if lumpy
- 4 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds. Whisk until well-combined.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and add the melted butter. Gently fold with a silicone spatula until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula.
- Bake, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.
- Leave the bread in the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.
To glaze the bread:
- Whisk the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a small bowl until completely combined and no lumps remain. If the mixture seems too thick you can add an additional teaspoon at a time of lemon juice to thin it out; you don't want it to be too thin or it will all drip off of the bread!
- Carefully remove the bread from the pan and place it back onto the cooling rack. Put paper towels or a plate underneath the rack to catch the drips. Pour the glaze evenly across the top of the bread and allow it to drizzle down the sides. Leave the bread undisturbed for 15-20 minutes for the glaze to set.