Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lemon Meringue Cake

The Improv Challenge for this month, hosted by Kristen at the Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, was to use lemon and sour cream in a recipe. There are so many ways to use these two ingredients, and there are several recipes that I love for cakes, frostings, and doughnuts using lemon and sour cream, but I wanted to make something new. I had a big bowl of egg whites that I needed to use, so I put together a few of our favorite things and ended up with this Lemon Meringue cake. I made discs of crispy meringue, layered them with a lemon curd filling, and finished the whole thing with whipped cream combined with sour cream. I do have to admit that the sour cream is an afterthought in this recipe. It gives the topping a nice tang, but honestly you could omit it. 

We liked that this dessert is easy to make ahead, either in its entirety, or just the components. Boy Mimi liked the crispy, just assembled version best, while Mimi Jr. liked it once it had been in the refrigerator for a few hours; it still had a slight meringue crunch, but the lemon filling had begun to soften the layers just a bit.If you are in a jam and you don't have time to make the meringue and lemon curd, you could easily make this with store bought lemon curd and meringue cookies. In that case, I would use a spring form pan to help hold the layers together. Once the cake has chilled for a few hours, release the sides of the pan and cover the the sides and top of the cake as directed in the recipe.

Lemon Meringue Cake
Meringue disks 
Lemon curd
2 cups heavy whipping cream 
1/4 cup sour cream 
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
lemon zest 

Meringue disks

4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Grease and flour 2 baking sheets or line with silpats. 

In a stand mixer whisk the egg white and cream of tarter until frothy. Continue beating and add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. When all the sugar is incorporated, add vanilla and beat for 1 –2 minutes more. When the beater is lifted out the whites should be very stiff with unbending peaks.
Using a pastry bag or spoon and spatula pipe or spread meringue onto prepared pans in three 8 inch circles (I put 2 on one pan and the third on the second pan).

Bake in a 250 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Meringues should be white to pale amber when done. Turn off the heat and leave meringues in the closed oven for 3 to 4 hours. Store cooled disks airtight at room temperature as long as 5 days.

Lemon Curd
Via the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum 

4 large egg yolks 
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon sugar  
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 oz unsalted butter, softened 
pinch of salt 
2 teaspoons lemon zest

In a heavy (Non-corrodible) sauce pan beat egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Stir in the butter, lemon juice and salt. Cook over medium-low heat without bringing to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened and the mixture coats the back of a spoon (I cooked mine for a total of 10 minutes). The mixture will be opaque. When the curd has thickened, pour through a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon until only coarse residue remains. Stir in the lemon zest and cool. Pour into an air tight container and refrigerate until cold. The curd will continue to thicken while it chills. 

To assemble: 

Beat 1 1/2 cups of the heavy whipping cream with 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. 

Fold 2/3 of the cream into the lemon curd. Set aside 1/2 cup of the lemon curd mixture.

Place one meringue disk on a plate and cover with 1/2 of the lemon curd and cream mixture. Top with a second meringue layer and cover with remaining lemon mixture. Top with the third meringue layer. 

Add the reserved lemon curd/cream mixture to the remaining whipped cream. Fold together until fully incorporated. Use this to lightly cover the sides and top of the cake.

Beat together the remaining 1/2 cup of cream with 1/4 cup sour cream and 2 tablespoon sugar until soft to firm peaks form. Cover the top of the cake with this and sprinkle with lemon zest.

Refrigerate cake for 3 hours or overnight to mellow for easy cutting, or serve soon for a crispier (and slightly messier) cake. 

printable recipe

Link:Foodie Friday at Design by Gollum


Improv Challenge