Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lemon Meringue Cake

I wanted to make a spring dessert for Easter and came across this Lemon Meringue Cake.  I love lemon and prefer cakes to pie, so I decided to give it a try.  I haven't ever made anything with meringue or the custard inside, so this was an adventure. Luckily I had some time on my hands to tackle this recipe. I didn't do everything exactly right and had to google a couple of things during it, but everything turned out great! It was really light, sweet, and lemony.  Perfect spring/easter dessert.

A couple of things I learned that weren't included in the original directions:
- The cake and filling can be made the day before, but the meringue should be made the same day so it doesn't sweat/droop.
- Meringue should be made in a stainless steal or glass bowl that is clean and completely dry
- Meringue took a lot longer to beat than I thought it would - I didn't time it but it was probably around 5-7 minutes or maybe more
- Use eggs that are at least a couple days old because the whites whip better with older eggs

Lemon Meringue Cake
From: Heat Oven to 360
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 35 min

For the cake:
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 whole egg, plus 2 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
1 cup plain white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

For the filling:
2 egg yoks (save whites for meringue)
1 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp butter

For the Meringue:
4 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated sugar

1. Heat oven to 350.  Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat int he egg and egg yolks.  Mix together the flour and baking powder and then beat into the creamed mixture alternating the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Stir in vanilla and lemon extracts, mixing well.

2. Butter and flour an eight inch round cake tin.  Pour in the batter, level off and bake at 350 for 20-25 min, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove froom oven.  Let sit in pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool.

3.  For the filling, combine the flour, sugar, and salt on the top of a double boiler.  Mix together the lemon juice, water and egg yolks and then stir into the four/sugar mixture along with the lemon zest.  Place over simmering water and cook, stirring until thickened.  Remove from heat and let cool5 minutes, then stir in the butter until melted.  Set aside until cool.  NOTE: This can be done in the microwave as I did - stir every minute until the curd is cooked.  There is a greater chance the curd may be a little grainy, but I didn't have this problem and it is much faster.

4. Place the cake layer on a plate (one that can handle some heat) and spread the lemon filling over.  Beat together the room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar in a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl that is clean and dry at a low/medium speed until the mixture begins to turn foamy.  Then continue to beat slowly adding the sugar and beat on medium/high speed until mixture is stiff (soft peaks), but not dry.  This takes several minutes, do not stop halfway through to take a break.  Meringue is done when it is not runny and when you can hold a spoonful of it upside down and none drops off (or when you swirl a spoon through it and the swirls hold their shape indefinitely).  Also, this should be done the day of, not the day before if it can be avoided.

5.  Spread meringue over top and sides of cake.  Place in 350 degree oven and bake until the meringue browns, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.  serve at room temperature, cutting slices with a wet knife - this helps prevent the meringue from tearing as you cut it. 

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