I started reminiscing about the past and what inspired me to start whipping up eggs in the kitchen while completing my Engineering degree in New Zealand. My best friend from high school and E school gave me this book when I moved out of Student Housing, back in the late 90s. This cookbook gave birth to a dream that became Soirette in 2012. Written by Dame Alison Holst, this book solidified my love for the baking process. Quite a number of my friends have stories about cooking alongside their moms, but mine was slightly different. Back then, mom was a hard working nurse and a great cook. But, like most Asian parents, the push to study and get good grades in school was far more important than learning how to grind spices to make a curry ~ the sacrifices parents make!! The bones of the recipe I'm sharing with you comes from this glorious old-school cookbook, with a little twist of my own. It was the first cake I ever made, with regular pantry ingredients, as that was the focus of the book. It also turned out to be my wedding cake!
Lemon Meringue Cake
Yield: 1 x 9" cake
Culinary blow torch
Hand mixer with a whisk attachment
Butter and flour a 9" cake pan.
1¾ cups sugar
Zest 2 lemons
2 large eggs
1 cup canola or grape-seed oil
½ tsp salt
1 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups all purpose flour, less 4 teaspoons
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 egg whites, large
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Making the cake
Heat oven to 350F, with the rack just below the middle.
To mix by hand:
Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl. Stir to mix in the leavener evenly.
Grate all the coloured peel from the lemons into a large bowl. Add the sugar, eggs and oil, then whisk together vigorously.
Add the salt, yoghurt and lemon juice and whisk again until fully combined.
Using a spatula, stir in the flour gently until just combined.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 30 min, or until the sides start to shrink, the centre springs back when pressed, and a skewer comes out clean. Leave for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack. Cool.
Making the meringue
Fill a small saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer.
In a clean heat-safe bowl, preferably a stainless steel one, combine the egg whites and sugar, and place the bowl over the pan with the simmering water, being careful to ensure that the water is not in direct contact with the bowl (we only want the steam to be in contact here). Whisk consistently but gently until the sugar is dissolved and the temperature reads 76C.
Switch off the heat on the stove. Carefully remove the bowl from the top of the saucepan, being mindful of the hot bowl.
Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip on high for at least 3 minutes, until you reach stiff peaks, and the mix has cooled to room temperature, and looks glossy.
Top the cooled cake with a dollop of meringue, and swirl it around the surface of the cake, creating any pattern you like with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Using the culinary blowtorch (or the broiler setting in the oven), toast the meringue until you’re happy with how golden/toasty you’d like it to be!
Best served right away, but it will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for an extra day.