Happy birthday, Mummy! To celebrate the occasion, I made her her favourite dessert in cake form: lemon meringue layer cake!
I think as long as I have done this blog and beyond, Mum has wanted a lemon or an orange cake for her birthday. In fact, my Mum loves anything citrusy and zesty: she loves lemon yoghurt, lemon meringue tart, lemon sorbet, lemonade, the list is endless.
So this year, I thought I'd do a mash up of a birthday cake and a lemon meringue tart. I'd researched on Pinterest for a few weeks, but I could find no-one who had put a meringue layer in their cake. Even when I shared pictures of this cake into one of the baking groups I'm a member of on Facebook, a few people commented that they'd never seen a meringue layer in a cake before.
I'm aware in Australia and New Zealand covering cakes in meringue is a thing, but nobody does it here. I'm glad to do something new and unusual!
With further ado, let's get to the recipe.
For the cake,
- One deep 8 inch (20 centimetres) round vanilla cake, dome cut off and cut into two layers
- Up to 1 pound (455 grammes) lemon curd, shopbought or homemade
- 2 egg whites
- 4 ounces (155 grammes) sugar
For the icing,
- 4 ounces (115 grammes) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces (115 grammes) caster sugar
- 6 fluid ounces (180 millilitres) milk
- 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) cornflour
- 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla essence
First, prepare the meringue,
- Preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F, Gas Mk.½), and line a flat baking tray with baking paper. Turn the paper upside down, and draw a 7 inch (18 centimetre) circle on it with a pen, then turn it right way up again.
- Using the egg whites and sugar, make a meringue mixture. Fill a piping bag fitted with a half inch (1 centimetre) round tip, and use some of the mixture to fix the paper to the baking tray.
- Pipe one large meringue disk into the circle, about a half inch (1 centimetre) thick, making sure the sides are straight and don't taper. In the free paper around the circle, pipe some little meringue kisses: I made eight 1 inch (2 centimetre) meringues, but the size and shape is up to you. If you don't have enough room on one tray, use two.
- Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until they are crisp on the outside but still pale. You don't want them to brown.
- Allow to cool on the trays completely before handling.
Next, make the icing,
- Mix the cornflour and milk in a small saucepan until completely smooth and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, and cook at boiling for 2 minutes, until it has thickened well.
- Transfer the mixture to a small bowl to cool fully, mixing occasionally to preventing a skin forming. It will be very thick when cool, almost like a jelly.
- Beat the butter in a mixing bowl very well using an electric mixer until almost white; this should take about 3 or 4 minutes.
- Then, beat in the sugar gradually until fully mixed and fluffy. This should take another 4 minutes or so.
- Add the cooled custard and continue to beat until it comes together into a fluffy mass, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add in about 3 ounces (85 grammes) of lemon curd to make a nice pale yellow icing with a hint of zesty flavour.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a half inch (1 centimetre) round tip halfway with icing, and set aside.
Finally, assemble the masterpiece,
- On your serving plate, fix the bottom layer of your cake (which is traditionally the top half of the cake with the cut dome side facing up) with a little dab of icing. Pipe a dam around the edge and fill with lemon curd, about 4 or 5 tablespoons (60 or 75 millilitres). Place the meringue layer on top, pressing very gently to fix together.
- Again, pipe a dam around the edge, and fill with the same amount of lemon curd. Finish off with the final top cake layer, and press down gently but firmly until all the layers are well fused together.
- Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow everything to set a bit to make icing easier. If there is icing left in your piping bag, just pipe it all back into the bowl with the rest of the icing.
- Once chilled, ice the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing, leaving enough behind for piping detail. I don't like a load of icing on my cakes, but if you feel you need more icing, you can make more.
- Finish the cake off with some piped borders, and the little meringue kisses. Chill for about an hour. When you want to eat it, let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes to take the chill off it.
This cake is best stored in the fridge, and will happily live there for up to 5 days. I have not frozen it, so I'm not sure of its freezing capabilities.
THIS TIME IN 2016: Birthday Cupcakes and Centre Piece Cake: Wheat-Free Lemon Sponge
THIS TIME IN 2015: Zingy Lemon Gâteau (Wheat Free)
THIS TIME IN 2014: Variations on a Theme: Lemon Curd Sponge (Wheat Free)
THIS TIME IN 2013: A Cautionary Tale on the Dangers of Novelty Cakes: The Dinnersaurus (This blog is my number one most viewed post!)
As you can see, all of Mum's birthday cakes of the past 4 years are lemon flavoured. I wasn't lying!