layer cakes

Lemon Meringue Cake

Winter is finally over and it’s time for some light and fruity desserts, well… lighter anyway. And this one has everything you want from a summer cake, fluffy lemon drizzle sponge, light Swiss meringue, zesty lemon curd and finally chewy French meringue ruffles.

Recipe:

Lemon Drizzle Sponge:

  • 250g Soft, Unsalted Butter
  • 250g Caster Sugar
  • 5 medium Eggs, separated
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 50g Cornflour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Lemons (Zest)

Lemon Curd:

  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 4 Lemons (Zest and Juice – ca 150 ml)
  • 1 tbsp Cornflour
  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 60g Unsalted Butter

French Meringues:

  • 150g Icing Sugar
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • Pinch of Salt

Swiss Meringue:

  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • Pinch of Salt

Drizzle:

  • 50g Icing Sugar
  • 3 Lemons (Juice)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170 degree C and grease and flour a 20cm round spring form tin.

In a medium sized and completely clean and grease free mixing bowl, start whipping the egg whites using a hand or stand mixer. Start on a slow speed until bubbles start forming, then increase the speed. When you reach soft peaks, slowly add 50g of the caster sugar and then whip them until stiff. Set them aside and cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl for about 5 minutes until they’re light in colour and very fluffy in consistency. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing until they’re completely incorporated between each one. Grate the zest of two lemons into the batter. Combine flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt and then add them to the batter in 2-3 stages, mixing well in between. Add a few large spoonfuls of the whipped egg whites to the batter and mix them in using the electric mixer to loosen it up a bit before adding the rest and carefully folding them in with a spatula. You can give it another really quick mix with the mixer to make sure that everything is well combined. Scrape the bowl down to make sure that everything is well combined and then fill the batter into the prepared tin. Pull the batter slightly up the sides of the baking tin to ensure a more even bake. Bake the cake for about 50 minutes. Stick a skewer into the middle of the cake to check if its done and take it out if there’s no batter stuck to the skewer. Let the cake cool down completely.

To make the lemon curd combine caster sugar, lemon juice and zest, cornflour and egg yolks in a medium sized pan and bring it to a boil on a medium heat. Keep mixing at all times, especially when the mixture has started boiling and keep whisking until it’s thickened. This will take a minute or two. Then take the curd off the heat and push it through a sieve. This will get rid of the bits of zest and any small bits of egg that might have cooked. Finally add the butter to the warm curd and mix it until it has dissolved. Let the lemon curd cool down completely and cover it with a lid or clingfilm if you’re making it ahead.

To make the french meringue put the egg whites into a grease free mixing bowl. Start whipping the egg whites slowly and add the salt when bubbles start forming. Increase the speed of the mixer and as soon as the eggs have reached a soft peak stage start adding the icing sugar, one spoonful at a time. Mix the meringue for about 5 minutes until the icing sugar has dissolved completely. You can check by rubbing a bit of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger, if you can’t feel any more sugar crystals, it’ll be done. Preheat the fan oven to 95 degree C (conventional 110 degree C). Prepare a baking sheet with a resuable baking mat and use a bit of the meringue mixture to stick the corners of the baking mat down onto the baking tray. Put a large star tip nozzle into a piping bag and snip the tip off. Fill the meringue mix into the piping bag, give it a good shake to get rid of air bubbles and twist the top shut. Holding the bag vertical to the baking sheet pipe ruffles by moving the piping bag slowly up and down whilst applying even pressure and letting it thin out at the top. I’ve also piped some small ruffles, which will bake harder than the big ones for the top of the cake and those will be crushed up and put between the cake layers. Bake them for about 1h40min, then turn the oven off and put a wooden spoon in the oven door so it won’t shut completely and excess steam can escape and then let them cool down completely in the oven.

To make the Swiss meringue you want to combine egg whites, caster sugar and salt in a heat proof bowl that sits over a sauce pan with simmering water (the water shouldn’t touch the bowl). Keep whisking at all times so we don’t end up with scrambled eggs and slowly heat the mixture up to about 65 degree C. At this point the sugar crystals will dissolve. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer you can again rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers and if you can’t feel any more sugar crystals it’ll be warm enough. Pour the mixture into a stand mixer and whisk it for about 10 minutes until the meringue has cooled down completely. By doing this it will whip up and get very stable.

Pour the lemon juice over the icing sugar to make the lemon drizzle.

Cut the cake in half using a cake leveller or a bread knife. Use a bit of the Swiss meringue to glue the first cake layer onto your cake board or stand. Place the first cake layer on the cake board and press it down gently so it sticks and doesn’t move. With a spoon or a pastry brush put one half of the lemon drizzle onto the first cake layer, it wants to be well saturated. Take one half of the Swiss meringue and blob it onto the first cake layer before spreading it out with an offset pallet knife. Then put half of the lemon curd on top of the Swiss meringue and spread it out as well (make sure to go all the way to the edge of the cake). Crumble the small french meringue kisses up and put them on top of the lemon curd, then place the second cake layer on top and repeat the lemon drizzle, Swiss meringue and lemon curd steps. Finally arrange the large French meringue ruffles around the edge of the top layer.

Enjoy!

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