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
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 …
1/4 c sugar
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.