Step into spring with the sunny citrus cake! Lemon pie lovers will delight in the light and fluffy lemon cake layers, which are sandwiched with tangy lemon curd.
In case your mouth wasn’t watering already, the entire confection is swirled and smothered with cloud-like meringue frosting. Fresh slices of nearly neon-coloured citrus fruit become simple, natural decorations for this cheerful cake. Each light bite is literally bursting with flavour, making it an extra special dessert for a Mother’s Day brunch, an extra special tea or a spring birthday treat.
Lemon Meringue Cake
Bake Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours
Serves: 12 to 16
2 Batches of Lemon Curd (reserve egg whites for meringue)
1½ cups granulated sugar
Zest of two lemons
2½ cups cake flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
6 large egg whites (reserved from making Lemon Curd)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Assorted citrus fruit for garnish
1. Prepare a double-batch of Lemon Curd and allow to thicken for at least 4 hours or overnight. Save the egg whites for the meringue.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the sugar and lemon zest. Rub them together with your fingertips until fragrant. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl with the lemon sugar. Using the paddle attachment beat the ingredients on low speed until just combined. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until evenly distributed. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and about half of the milk and mix until the dry ingredients are moistened, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
3. Whisk the eggs into the remaining milk mixture and stir to combine. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the egg mixture in three additions, mixing for about 15 seconds after each addition and stopping the mixer between additions to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
4. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely before assembling.
Notes: To keep the cake batter from getting too lumpy, add the liquid ingredients slowly and take care to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl often. Do not be tempted to overmix if a few lumps remain in the batter before baking.
1. Put the reserved egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Briefly whisk them together by hand until just combined. In a medium saucepan, bring an inch or two of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler (be sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Heat the mixture, whisking occasionally, until it registers 160°F on a candy thermometer.
2. Carefully place the bowl back on the stand mixer and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg white mixture on high speed until glossy, medium-stiff peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. Use immediately.
1. Place one layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip with a portion of the meringue. Pipe a ring of meringue around the top edge of the cake. Fill the centre of the meringue “dam” with half of the lemon curd. Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat. Place the final layer cake, bottom-side-up, on the top. Fill in any gaps between the layers of cake with the meringue right away to keep the curd from escaping.
2. Frost the cake with the remaining meringue. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to give it a rustic, swirly finish.
3. Cut away the skin/pith of the citrus fruit and slice into rounds (about ¼-inch thick). Place the fruit slices on top the cake and serve. Cake may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days.
Looking for more spring sweets inspiration? Try these 40 Stunning Mother’s Day Desserts.