Recipe VICKI RAVLICH-HORAN | Images ASHLEE DECAIRES

To be truthful, the classic lemon meringue is a tricky tart. The cook needs to master pastry and blind baking. While the filling is reasonably simple, you have to add meringue to be baked on top—no mean feat!

While I’m a fan of the tart lemon contrasted with the sweet meringue flavours, I personally think the traditional lemon meringue pie has room for many improvements, both as a cook and the eater.

My version of a lemon meringue tart has a crumb base. And instead of having to bake the meringue in the oven, it’s piped on at the end, giving you more presentation options and a lot more chance at success.

The flavours of lemon meringue converted into a stunning cake which is, trust me, quite simple to make.

Make the cakes and the lemon curd the day before then whip up the meringue the next day and put it all together.

Cakes

350g butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract (yes, tbsp!)
3⅔ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
1 cup natural yoghurt
½ cup milk

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla then fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the yoghurt and milk.

Divide the batter evenly between three greased 23cm cake tins and bake at 170°C fan bake for 25–35 minutes. The edges of the cake should be coming away from the tin and a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool completely before assembling.

Mascarpone Lemon Curd

4 egg yolks
⅔ cup sugar
60g butter, chopped
2 tsp lemon zest
100ml lemon juice
1 cup mascarpone*

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar before adding the remaining ingredients. Microwave for 45 seconds and then whisk for the same amount of time. Repeat this two more times until the curd is bubbling and thick. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools.

When completely cool, mix the curd with the mascarpone.

*You could use whipped cream instead.

Italian Meringue

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
200ml water
pinch cream of tartar

Put the sugar in a small pot along with the water and bring to a simmer. When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat. Using a candy thermometer, measure the temperature. When it reaches 115°C, start to whisk the egg whites.

Whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the whites form soft peaks. By this stage, the sugar syrup should have reached 130°C (or hard ball stage). While you continue to beat the egg whites, slowly drizzle in the sugar syrup and continue to beat for a further 20 minutes until the egg whites have cooled.

To Assemble

If the cakes have risen unevenly trim them so they are all level.

Place the first cake on your serving dish and spread half the mascarpone lemon curd on top, being careful not to get too close to the edges.

Place the second cake on top and spread the remaining curd on this. Add the last cake on top and secure this by inserting a few skewers cut to size.

Finally, spread the meringue over the entire cake, using a small palette knife or the back of a spoon to create beautiful peaks and crevices. Just before serving, use a blowtorch to caramelise the peaks.

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