lemon meringue cake

Mother of all things lemon and meringue.

I heart this cake!

That’s right.  I decided that although I love lemon meringue pie … sometimes one must celebrate an occasion with cake. 

Saturday night was one of those occasions.  A 40th birthday bash which required cake.  But not just any cake would do … oh no! 

It had to be tart. And fresh. With a (good) splash of lemoncello. And topped with a soft meringue. 

It could only be one thing. 

A lemon meringue cake.

I had previously spotted a similar cake on donna hay’s website.  She had created a chocolate cake bottomed cake … which I will admit – looks stellar in the pictures: the bright white meringue atop brilliant yellow curd and the dark chocolate shell … very pretty … just not what I wanted … flavour-wise.  I needed to punch up the lemon factor for this birthday gal.

I’m thrilled with how it all turned out.

And it really couldn’t have been any easier.  All you need is one layer of cake, some lemon curd, and meringue.  Easy?  Heck ya!

For this recipe … I ended up using my grandmother’s lemon curd recipe.  Recently I’ve been using little red kitsch’n lemon curd recipe – but I wanted to go back to my old school recipe … my grandmother’s lemon curd … with a generous splash of lemoncello.  Plus … I needed egg whites for the meringue … and this curd recipe only uses egg yolks.

 lemon meringue cake

ingredients:

lemon cake:

280 g sugar
80 g butter, room temperature
240 g flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 lemons, juice and zest
240 mL buttermilk
 
Heat your oven to 350 F.  Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together.  This will not result in a über creamy mixture.  There isn’t enough butter to sugar ratio … but it will form a pea-like mixture.  That’s good.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Add the dry ingredients to your butter / sugar batter and mix on low-speed.

In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice and eggs together. 

Slowly pour the wet ingredients into your mixing bowl (again, leaving the mixer at low-speed).  Once the eggs have been incorporated into the batter, increase the speed to medium and beat for a further 30 seconds.

Using a spatula, scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl – ensuring that all the dry ingredients have been incorporated. 

Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan.  Don’t worry if you have a little left over batter – they make excellent mini cupcakes.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes – this obviously depends on how thick a cake you are baking.  I always like to check my cakes at the 20 minute mark … you’ll know it’s ready when the sides start to pull away from the cake pan.

Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.  It’s time to make your lemon curd.

Isabel’s lemon curd:

1 c. sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 tbsp (I used more) lemoncello
Zest of an entire lemon
1 tbsp butter
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten (save the whites for your meringue)

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, flour, water, lemon juice, lemoncello, and lemon zest. Put the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring until it is about to come to a boil and slightly thickens.

Remove it from heat and stir in the butter. Take about 1/2 c. of the mixture and add it to the egg yolks – it’ll temper the yolks and keep them from curdling. Whisk the egg yolks well – once they’re smooth, pour them into the saucepan. Return the pan to the heat and cook it, whisking constantly – bubbles will form in the mixture. At this point – remove your lemon curd from heat, and strain it through a sieve into a clean bowl.  Cover it with plastic wrap and allow to cool in the fridge while you prepare your lemon cake for filling.

When your cake has cooled completely, turn it out of the pan onto a plate.  I decided to make a template of a smaller (6-inch round) cake pan – placing it in the middle of the cake and using a sharp knife to outline the circle.  This created my guideline for spooning out the middle of the cake.

Once my template was marked, I grabbed a small spoon and gently spooned out the majority of the centre of the cake.  You don’t want to remove all of it though!  You need this to be a shell for the lemon curd (since it is replacing the pie crust), and you don’t want a weakened cake base.

Spoon the lemon curd into the “empty” centre of the cake and smooth it over with a knife or spatula. 

You’re almost there …

Meringue:

4 egg whites
1/4 c sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
 
In the bowl of your stand mixer (with the whisk attachment), beat the egg whites on medium-high until foamy. Incorporate the sugar a spoonful at a time, add the pinch of cream of tartar and then increase the speed of the mixer to its highest setting.  You want the egg whites to form glossy peaks … not too stiff … but enough that they hold their shape.

Top the entire cake with the meringue.  Make it pretty!  Use a spoon to create a neat swirly effect.  And then … I blow torched it.  I somehow didn’t remember to take a picture of the finished product before I rushed off to the party … but you can imagine … a beautiful golden meringue. 

Absolute perfection.  And it tasted bloody delicious as well. 

spiced brown sugar cookies

Ok … so I totally meant to post this recipe before Christmas.

It’s true! 

I made it for my Christmas cookie exchange at work,  and I even shared it on Rogers Daytime Ottawa on the 21st (Lois, Tom and I had a blast making these) … with the intention to post the recipe the next day.

Only … I got caught up in some of my holiday baking (scones, monkey bread, cranberry orange upside down cakes, sticky buns, squares, cheesecakes, and lots of lemon meringue tarts) … and blogging was the last thing on my mind.

Until today. 

I realized … better late than never with this recipe … it makes a really delightful little cookie … full of spice, a little sweet … a little crunchy yet still soft in the centre.

Mother of pearl I heart this cookie.

Plus … it’s really (and I mean REALLY) good as the base for a lemon cheesecake (the spices and the lemon are a great contrast).    

You see … I’ve re-functioned the cookie for post holidaysjust don’t cover the cookies in the powdered sugar / cinnamon mixture.   

This is another Donna Hay recipe.  I know … my love of Ms. Hay continues (as does my love of her ipad app) … and these cookies certainly solidify her awesomeness. 

I think you’ll like them too.  

spiced brown sugar cookies

ingredients:

1 c. powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 1/4 c. flour

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp baking soda

120 g butter, room temperature

1 c. brown sugar

1/3 c. corn syrup

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Place the icing sugar and ground cinnamon in a bowl and mix well to combine.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer (or with your handheld mixer) beat together the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup until pale and fluffy – about 3 minutes at medium speed (don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time).

Add the egg and vanilla to the batter – beating at medium speed to combine well.

Turn off the mixer: add the flour, baking soda and spices, mix in until incorporated.

Roll small amounts of the cookie dough into balls – about the size of a small chocolate truffle.  Place on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper), leaving room to spread. 

Bake for 8 minutes – rotating halfway through baking.  You’ll know they are ready when they are slightly cracked. 

Allow the cookies to sit on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.  You want the cookies to still be slightly warm when you coat them in the icing sugar mixture.If you’re making these cookies for a cheesecake base – this is where the recipe ends.  Simply allow to cool, pulse in the food processor to a fine crumb, add some melted butter and mix to combine.  Press into the base of your cheesecake pan.  You won’t be disappointed.  I promise.

However … feel free to make these cookies as they were originally intended … Put the cookies (a few at a time) in the powdered sugar / cinnamon mixture – gently tossing the cookies until they are coated in the sugar.

Place them on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Makes 84 truffle sized cookies.  Absolutely delightful cookies!

I’m glad these cookies are my first blog entry in 2012 … a recipe I truly love to share with all of you :0) 

Enjoy … et bonne année!

cardamom chocolate chip banana loaf

I heart Donna Hay.  She is to me what … Martha & Nigella are to other people … I think she’s awesome (I also think her donna hay ipad app is pretty spectacular as well).

I heart that she makes things that I want to make, are easy to make, and that they actually turn out!  Plus … her food styling rocks my world.  Seriously … I’ve found myself thinking … how would Donna make this look?  It’s become a slight obsession.

And I’m totally cool with that.

Who wouldn’t want to make something that looks good?

And when you look at her recipes and realize … oh yeah – I can totally do that! 

Like this one.  It’s so simple … but so delicious.

I wouldn’t call this a banana loaf.  It’s more of a spice loaf with bananas on top … but it’s still delightful.  For realz.  This might become a new little gem in your recipe folder.  

Donna Hay’s original recipe was banana cinnamon breads.  I decided to change things up.  I flipped through my flavour bible and decided that pairing cardamom, chocolate chips and bananas would work well.

I was right (well … the flavour bible was right).

This is a real holiday recipe – spicy and sweet (the bananas and the chocolate chips) … plus it smells absolutely amazing while baking. 

And it’s good two days later … even when you’ve kept it in the fridge (I’m not a fan of keeping baked goods in the fridge … it sucks all the moisture out). 

Oh yeah … it’s super adorable – so again … another awesome hostess gift!  Or perfect for Christmas morning … or a couple of days after Christmas when you just want something good to eat without all the fuss.  This recipe will answer that need.

I decided to double the batch … I was seeing lots of friends and wanted to bring everyone a little lovin’ from my oven.  Doubling meant that I made 1 dozen mini loaves and 1 dozen extra large muffins.  Both turned out great – and their size meant that I was able to bake them in under 30 minutes.  AWESOME!

cardamom, chocolate chip & banana loaves / muffins

ingredients:

5 oz butter, room temperature

1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 c. almond meal (ground almonds … or hazelnut meal would work too)

1/3 c. buttermilk

1/2 tsp ground cardamom (or cinnamon if following the original recipe)

1/2 c. chocolate chips

2 bananas, sliced

melted butter for brushing

brown sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray your mini loaf pans, or muffin pans with non stick spray.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy – about 5 minutes.  Add the egg  – beating well. 

Turn off the mixer.  Add the flour, baking powder, almond meal, buttermilk, and cardamom and fold in until smooth.  Toss in the chocolate chips and stir until they are evenly distributed.Grab your ice cream scooper and scoop the batter into your pans – I used 2 scoops in both the loaf pan and the muffin pan molds. 

Grab your bananas and slice them.  As you can tell – slice them however you want … I think thicker is better – since they will be caramelizing as the batter bakes … and you want them to keep their shape.

Gently brush the melted butter on top of the banana slices, and then generously sprinkle brown sugar on top of the melted butter.

Done!

Bake for 25 minutes – they will be golden and smell ridiculously delightful (you might want to bake them a little longer … resist the urge – you don’t want them to dry out … don’t forget – since there is no banana in the batter, it’s not overly moist to begin with).

Remove from the pan mold immediately.  You don’t want them to keep baking.  Allow to cool on a wire rack … these are great warm from the oven … but equally delicious at room temperature.

I think I’m going to make another batch of these this week … only perhaps I’ll make them into mini-muffins and bring them into the office … or just save them for myself :0)