Lemon Meringue Cake

lemon meringue cakeWhen the celebrated Irish culinary leader and cookbook author, Darina Allen told me of a new favorite cake among the Ballymaloe Cookery School repertoire, I paid prompt attention. As she described the yellow layer cake with baked-on meringue and lemon curd filling, I couldn’t wait to open the old 1960s Culinary Arts Encyclopedia Cookbook. There it was, the Blitz Torte. I also found it in the 1950 Betty Crocker Cookbook and even as a Cream Meringue Tart in every Joy of Cooking edition I opened. Once again an old idea restages itself in different dress. The vanilla custard-filled cake is now finished with tart homemade lemon curd and whipped cream making it a light spring dessert.

The name for the cake being “blitz”—or “quick”—comes from the fact that the meringue and the cake batter bake together so the icing’s already there. Once the layers have cooled the cake may be sandwiched with any number of fillings from a simple vanilla pudding to whipped cream and fresh berries. I’m going along with the lemon curd suggestion from Ireland. It’s a lovely idea for spring holiday dinners or a quick dessert for a family supper. Lemon curd can be prepared ahead and is best kept on the tart side.

Lemon Meringue Cake

2 oz. softened butter (1/2 stick)
3½ oz. sugar (1/2 cup)
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz. all-purpose flour (1 sifted cup)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
4 large egg whites
5½ oz. sugar (3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ heaped cup lemon curd
½ cup heavy cream whipped

Grease and parchment-line 2 8-inch cake tins. Ready your stand-mixer or hand-held beater to whip egg whites. Preheat oven to 350º.

Separate eggs and place egg whites in clean mixing bowl. Pour 5½ oz. sugar, cornstarch, cream of tartar and ½ teaspoon vanilla over egg whites; set aside. In separate bowl cream the butter and 3½ oz. sugar, add vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time. Continue mixing until light and creamy. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Blend flour into butter mixture alternately in 3 additions with the milk. Batter will be thick. Immediately begin to whip egg whites on stand mixer or as soon as possible with hand-held mixer (will take up to 5 minutes).

Divide yolk batter between two prepared cake tins spreading it evenly and thinly. Work carefully here while egg whites beat to a thick, glossy meringue. Divide meringue in dollops evenly over both cake layers. Spread one meringue to smooth surface and slightly peak second meringue layer. Place cake tins in preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Cool slightly then release sides of cake with flat knife. Invert on cooling rack. Remove lining paper and reverse cake layers upright onto another cooling rack.

When cake is thoroughly cool, place flat meringue-topped layer, meringue side down on a serving plate. Top cake layer first with a generous spread of cool lemon curd and dollop over whipped cream, spreading the cream evenly to edge. Place second cake layer, peaked meringue side up on top of cream. Serve at once or refrigerate to serve later. Serves 8-12.

Mary Jo’s cookbook is available at Amazon.com    http://amzn.to/9lOnZv

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