Friday, January 20, 2012

Lemon Meringue Cake

I made this "cake" for Lee's birthday a couple of years ago. I was excited to make it because it was a difficult recipe, but I had high hopes for myself and when it was finished, it looked perfect - just like the photo in the recipe. We had our friends, Greg and Andrea Adams over for dinner to celebrate that night. We had some appetizers and some dinner - I have no recollection of what I served because the only thing I remember about that night was how unusually warm it was for a November evening.....and how the "cake" slowly slid off the edge of the counter while none of us were looking. We were eating dinner....and heard a PLOP! There was my creation.....Lee's birthday "cake".....on the floor.  A moment of shock and silence and then uproarious laughter!!!!!  Oh my goodness.....I'll never forget it. 

Fortunately, for us, only the top half of the "cake" slid off, and we still managed to have something to eat for dessert. I'll try this recipe again one day.....but I'm going to be sure it's a very cold day.

I hope you enjoy my Flip Video of our little celebration! (Music is courtesy of Flip Video). We managed to have a wonderful time that night, in spite of the CAKE. We had a little wine, a little food, lit the candles and wished Lee a happy birthday.  

  I must give credit where it is due: This is a Nigella Lawson recipe - I am a huge fan of hers. This is the way I wrote it down...a few words may be different than her original.  

The cake is a combination of 3 layers of deliciousness: Meringue, Lemon Curd, and Whipped Cream.  It tastes divine. 


1 stick, plus 1 TBL unsalted butter, very soft
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 C, plus 1 tsp superfine sugar (sometimes called "Baker's Sugar" - you can make some yourself by putting regular sugar in a food processor and whirling away!)
3/4 C flour
2 TBL cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
zest of 1 lemon
4 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 C heavy or whipping cream
1/2 C, plus 2 TBL lemon curd (use good just tastes better)


1. Pre-heat the oven to 400. Line and butter two 8-inch cake pans (cut parchment to fit the bottom of the pan, then butter the whole pan.

2. Mix the egg yolks, 1/2 C of the sugar, butter, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and lemon zest in a processor. Add the lemon juice and milk; process again.

3. Divide the mixture between the cake pans. You will think you don't have enough to cover the bottom of the pans, but don't panic. Spread calmly with a rubber spatula until smooth (I love the way Nigella words things).

4.  Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form and then slowly whisk in the cup of sugar. Divide the whisked whites between the two pans, spreading the meringue straight on top of the cake batter.

5. Smooth one flat with a metal spatula, and with the back of a spoon, peak the other and sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over the peaks. Put the pans into the oven for 2-0 - 25 minutes.

6. With a cake tester, pierce the cake that has the flat meringue topping to check it's cooked all through (it will have risen now, but will fall back a bit flat later). No sponge mixture should stick to the tester. Remove both cakes to a wire rack and cool completely in the pans.

7. Un-mold the flat-topped one onto a cake stand or plate, meringue side down. Whisk the heavy cream until thick but not stiff, then set aside. 

8. Spread the flat sponge surface of the cake on the platter, with the lemon curd, then use a spatula to spread the cream over the the curd. Then top with the remaining cake, bronze-peaked meringue uppermost.

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