08 January 2014

Lemon Meringue Cake

I wanted to start the year on the right note.  No.  Not quite.  I've been working on so many good things I couldn't decide what to post first.  Nope.  I've been too lazy to post anything.  No, well, maybe a little.  I've been too busy watching football to cook anything new on my day off.  That's probably the biggest culprit for the lack of posting lately.  Sorry.  Well, this week is sort of the saddest week of the year for me in a way.  The Packers were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, so now I can start cooking again.  That's the good news.  The sadness is the fact that there's no more football until the fall.  Okay, enough of the no football pity party.

In my football fixation, I have actually gotten a little behind in posting.  I made this cake back in November and just haven't gotten around to posting it.  I really did think it would be a nice way to start the new year, too.  It's crazy tart and lemony.  It's all shortcuts, which I usually don't go for, but in this case they're okay and they totally work.  You get to use a blowtorch!  Yea!  That's my favorite part.  I don't get nearly enough chances to use my little kitchen torch.

The other totally awesome thing about this cake is the meringue.  It's an Italian meringue.  Italian meringue, if you aren't familiar, is totally amazing.    It uses a cooked sugar syrup for sweetening instead of plain old granulated.  The sugar syrup cooks the egg whites so the meringue is safe for any and all to eat.  The sugar syrup also acts as a stabilizer for the meringue, so it stands up well to heat and moisture.  If you've ever tried to make a meringue stand up in the Southern heat and humidity, then you can understand how awesome that is.  It also travels well without losing all its volume.  That makes this great for any dessert you are taking to a party or gathering.  You really should make it part of your dessert-making repertoire.

Lemon Meringue Cake
makes one 9" two layer cake

Print me, Please!!!

For the cake:
1 box lemon cake mix and the ingredients directed on the box
One 10 oz jar lemon curd (I use Dickinson's because I can find it everywhere)

For the meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup + 1/4 cup sugar, separated

Bake the cake in two 9" round pans as directed on the package.  Let the layers cool completely.

Place a layer of the cake on a serving with the top face down on the plate, so that the top of the layer is even.  Spread the lemon curd over the cake in an even layer.  Place the other cake layer on top of the lemon curd.  This time place the cake top side up with the bottom of the cake on the lemon curd.  You want the little hump of top this time.

To make the meringue, place the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer.  Whip the egg whites on medium speed until they start to get frothy, add the salt and cream of tartar; gradually increase the mixer speed to medium high.  Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.  Once you get soft peaks, add 1/4 cup of sugar in a steady stream and whip until the meringue is not quite forming stiff peaks.  Turn off the mixer and make the sugar syrup.

In a small saucepan combine 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and cook it to soft ball stage (238°).  Immediately remove from the heat.

Carefully pour some of the sugar syrup into the egg whites and turn the mixer on high speed.  Whip for a few seconds, then carefully pour the rest of the sugar syrup into the bowl in a steady stream.  Whip the mixture until the meringue is lukewarm, shiny, and forms stiff peaks.

Immediately spread the meringue over the top and sides of the cake.  Use the end of the spatula or your finger to make little peaks all over the surface of the cake.  Toast the meringue all over with a small kitchen torch.  You can also use the oven broiler to toast the meringue.  If you use the broiler, don't walk away from it because it only takes a minute or so to toast the outside of the cake.

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