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Lemon Meringue Cake

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Over the past four years, David and I have been very active in the young adults group at our church.  This group is so special to us, and we have met some of our very best friends there.  We recently found out that the priest who is in charge of our group is leaving to pursue opportunities in another church.  She was the one who really got our group started, and David and I have been there since the beginning.  She even traveled to our hometown to perform our wedding in May 2008.  So, as you can tell, we were sad to see her go.  For her last Wednesday night meeting, I asked her to choose the dessert.  The only thing she told me was peanut butter cookies and anything fruity or lemon.  I immediately thought of this cake.  It’s definitely something to be saved for a special occasion such as this.

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It was a pretty big project, but it was not particularly difficult.  It just required organization.  I made the chiffon cake layers on night, and the rest of it the next day.  The cake layers were very light and fluffy, almost like angel food cake.  The lemon cream was very similar to the lemon cream used for the Lemon Tart I made for TWD last year.  I remember having problems getting the cream to the correct temperature, but Bridget suggested using a stainless steel bowl.  I tried that this time, and it worked perfectly.  Thank goodness I found a way to make this cream easier!  The caramel seemed out of place at first, but it added the right amount of sweetness to the cake.  Next time I would actually double the caramel to take out some of the tartness of the lemon.  One thing I did change was the meringue.  I was short on time and wasn’t able to spend the time making the meringue in the original recipe, so I used the same recipe used in this lime pie. Even though this cake was a lot of work, it was worth it for the occasion and everyone really enjoyed it.

I’m also submitting this to Livestrong with a Taste of Yellow Day, hosted at Winos and Foodies.  It’s so important to do everything you can to try and prevent cancer, and to support those whose lives have been affected.  I am thankful for the people I know who have survived, especially my younger sister Amanda, who had leukemia as a child.

Lemon Meringue Cake (from Tartine, by Elisabeth Pruett and Chad Robertson, as seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

Makes a 10-inch round cake

I made ⅓ of this recipe and divided the batter between two 6-inch pans. I cut each layer in half to create 4 even layers. Mark has the recipe amounts for an 8-inch cake.

Chiffon Cake:
2¼ cups (11.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ cups (10.5 ounces) sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
1½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
10 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch cake or springform pan with 3-inch sides with parchment paper cut to fit exactly; don’t grease the pan.

Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add 1¼ cups (8.75 ounces) of the sugar and the salt and whisk to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Make a well in the flour, add the yolk mixture, and then whisk thoroughly and quickly for about 1 minutes until very smooth.

In another large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until it holds soft peaks. Add the remaining ¼ cup (1.75 ounces) sugar slowly while beating on medium-high speed until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks. Add a third of the egg whites and fold into the yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in the rest of the whites until just combined.

Pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top if necessary. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Once completely cool, run a thin knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake an then release and lift off the pan sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment.

Caramel:
⅔ cup heavy cream
¼ vanilla bean
1¼ cup (8.5 ounces) sugar
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¾ teaspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pour the cream into a small, heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the pod halves into the milk. Place over medium-high heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low to keep the cream warm.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook, without stirring, until the mixture is amber colored, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

The mixture will continue to cook off the heat and become darker, so make sure to have your cream close by. Carefully and slowly add the cream to the sugar syrup. The mixture will boil vigorously at first. Let the mixture simmer down, and then whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Cut the butter into 1-inch chunks and add to the caramel one at a time, whisking constantly after each addition. Then whisk the caramel periodically as it continues to cool.

Lemon Cream:
½ cup + 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
¾ cup (6 ounces) sugar
pinch salt
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter

In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the lemon juice, eggs, yolk, sugar, and salt (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Whisk them together constantly until very thick, or 80°C (180°F) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat and let it cool down until warm to touch (60°C or 140°F on a thermometer). Place the lemon cream in a blender and with the motor running, add the butter in small pieces. Allow to cool completely. (You may refrigerate it, but allow to come to cool room temperature before using.)

Lemon Syrup:
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup (2.5 ouncs) sugar
⅓ cup lemon juice

In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Transfer to a cool bowl, let cool for a bit, then chill for half an hour. Stir in the lemon juice.

Assembly:
Split the chiffon cake horizontally into four equal layers. Place one layer on your serving plate (which I lined with wax paper around to cake) and moisten evenly with ¼ of the lemon syrup. Spread ⅓ of the caramel over the cake, then ⅓ of the lemon cream. Repeat with 2 more layers, using up the remaining caramel and lemon cream. Top with the fourth cake layer and moisten with the remaining lemon syrup. Cover the cake completely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.

Swiss Meringue:
7 egg whites
1¾ cup (12.25 ounces) sugar
pinch of salt

In a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt and whisk until the whites are hot to the touch, about 120F, about 5 minutes. Beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick and holds stiff, glossy peaks.

Unmold the cake and spread the meringue all over. Use a spatula or a spoon to create dramatic swirls. Using a propane torch if available, scorch the meringue, blackening the tips and swirls.

14 Responses

  1. Oh my gosh, your layers look perfect. Now I totally want some of this cake.

  2. Thank you for your entry Erin. It looks delicious.

  3. I just made a lemon meringue cake this past weekend for David’s birthday – but instead of cake layers, you put baked meringue layers between the lemon curd and vanilla ice cream. It’s as good as it sounds.

    BTW – I tried to send you an email re: the cheesecake but it was kicked back to me. Email me when you get a chance.

  4. The meringue looks incredible. What a fun tasty cake. How sweet of you to share and bake for someone you care about! Nothing says love like a lemon meringue cake!

  5. This looks wonderful! A nice twist on the traditional pie.

  6. WOW that looks good! I LOVE lemon meringue and I LOVE a light fluffy cake. Starring this!

  7. wow impressive! this looks great!

  8. This looks sooo good!

  9. Wow, it looks amazing! I love the meringue on top and all that lemon goodness inside!

  10. Your layer looks so perfect! Looks delicious too–now if I could only have the patience to do the layering, maybe I can actually try it!!🙂 Nice job!!

  11. omg that looks amazing. im gonna have to try this sometime.

  12. What a fun twist on a classic.

  13. Oh goodness, this looks amazing! So light and airy. Totally bookmarking.🙂

  14. Holy moly that looks good. Those layers are awesome!

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