Friday, May 27, 2011

Lemon Meringue Cake

I've been in Little Rock, Arkansas this week visiting the fam, and my grandmother celebrated her eighty-second birthday, so I was asked to bake her birthday cake. I had some time constraints on me, so I didn't get to really plan what I was going to do. I had suggested a simple chocolate cake, but then my mother reminded me that grandma doesn't like chocolate cake. She's from the pound-cake generation (not that I have anything against pound cake...), which seems to have an adoration for all things lemon in the confection world (not that I have anything against lemons...). I considered making lemon meringue pie, but I hate not making cake for birthdays. Instead, I made lemon filling and meringue and slapped it together with a box-mix yellow cake and some fresh vanilla frosting. My grandmother's cake didn't turn out to be so pretty (like an amateur, I attempted a layer cake), but my second attempt at this cake does look much nicer (the 9x13 inch pyrex did the trick). My mom, who use to be a great chocolate lover, can no longer indulge in chocolate for health reasons, so I made this second lemon meringue cake for her today. I'm heading home to New Orleans tomorrow, so she'll have this dessert as a little memento... for at least a few days...

For this cake make a box yellow cake as directed. After it cools, frost with vanilla icing. I made my icing from scratch.
Icing recipe:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a bowl with a beater attachment, cream butter. Add vanilla, then alternate adding powdered sugar and milk until you have a nice frosting. Frost cake; set aside.

For the lemon meringue portion:
For the lemon filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 lemons, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks, beaten
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a small to medium saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, water, lemon juice and zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until boiling. Add butter; stir; turn off heat. Add 1/2 cup of lemon mixture to beaten egg yolks. Do so slowly, whisking constantly. Add egg mixture to remaining mixture in the saucepan; return to a boil, while whisking. Pour into a bowl to cool. Once cool, spread over iced cake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until frothy. Add sugar and vanilla; whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over cake and bake approximately 5 minutes, or until the meringue develops touches of golden brown. Refrigerate to help with cake set up.
Grandma's cake... My brother said, "I won't eat that because it looks like a scrambled egg." I guess it does...

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