Monday, August 2, 2010

Heavenly Cake Bakers: Lemon Meringue Cake

More than one person has recently confessed to me that although they consider me the most serious baker in their life, in their own work or social environments, they themselves are the ones called on for birthday cakes and fancy tarts. While I'm glad that we don't all work together, as our other co-workers would probably get very tired of us and our shuffling for mastery, I'm under no illusions that I'm the only fancy baker around. Many of my friends are extremely accomplished in the kitchen, and I eat their savory and sweet cooking regularly. I think I differ from them less in skill than in the depth of my obsession.
Every now and again, though, I do pull off a whopper. And this week's Heavenly Cake, a many-step Lemon Meringue Cake, was just such a show-stopper.  This is the kind of cake I love to make, many steps without too much butter.

The cake itself was a very light biscuit, or sponge. After it had cooled, I removed the top and bottom crust by pinching and rolling and peeling it, a very satisfying maneuver that reminded me of peeling sunburnt skin, which I regret to say is also an activity recently engaged in by me.
The denuded cakes were brushed with lemon syrup, sandwiched with leftover rhubarb curd (which tastes remarkably similar to lemon curd), and then covered in huge clouds of one of the best Italian meringues I've ever made. For once the syrup didn't clump everywhere! For once the meringue stayed white and didn't turn caramel colored! I am awesome. Also, the meringue had lemon juice right in it, a nice touch.

For the final flourish, the cake went into the oven at 500 degress, where it proceeded to complete its resemblence to its namesake pie by browning beautifully.
The cake came together perfectly, but a touch of anxiety was added by my old enemy, transportation. Any cookbook or pastry chef will tell you that you can't make a perfect meringue on a humid day. Unfortunately for me, if I wanted to wait for a dry day in Brooklyn I'd be waiting until November, so I just decided to give it a try. Shortly after frosting, I noticed the beginning of telltale cracks in my perfect cloudy billows, so I took drastic action, and whisked the cake into storage in our air-conditioned bedroom. I fretted about it for the next several hours, and indeed it didn't make it to its destination dinner party unharmed and crisp, but it did arrive nearly perfect, and was greatly admired, and eaten up. I never got a slice shot, but if there were one you would see that the meringue rises nearly an inch and a half above the cake, providing the final homage to lemon meringue pie.


evil cake lady said...

i love all of your swooping swirls of toasted meringue, but not as much as i do all the star wars figurines hanging out on your backsplash. those alone make you super awesome in my book!

Unknown said...

Katya... yep it is a show stopper! love how the oven totally detailed it for you!

faithy said...

i love the swirls and peak!

Vicki said...

It looks stunning!

Svetlana said...

I like your biscuit. It looks so fluffy, exactly like it should be.

Alpha Baker Joan said...

Yep - you said it: cloudy and billows - perfect description. I happen to love this cake and yours looks just like it would in my mind.