The Lemon Meringue Cake Crisis

 

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A lemon meringue cake, that was the brief. Decorate it however you want mama…

No problem what so ever kiddo, of course I can do that. With three obvious components to the recipe, this should be an easy one, and not something to be worried about at all right?

Right??

Cake, done and dusted. I made that the day before. Curd? Yep, being the efficient person I can be, I made that one two days before. On the celebratory day, it’s just a simple Italian meringue and assemble the thing. Easy peasy.

I was using a new candy thermometre, which I thought was particularly adult of me, instead of the usual guess work that I normally do to get to hardball stage. The thermometre didn’t seem to work out so well though.  I burnt the sugar syrup before it had even gotten close to the magic temperature it needed to get to. Which as I’m sure you can image, burnt sugar is a pure joy to clean off.

Start again, new eggs, new sugar, clean pan. I didn’t move a muscle, no distractions what so ever. Just my full attention in the pot, and yet it seemed to be heading in the exact same damn direction as the first failed lot. Why oh why? No time to wonder, I had to slap this all together quick sticks and make do with what I had.

And it’s at this point, where a good cake, that had lots of potential just began to look sadder and sadder. Three upturned waffle cones, with piped (slightly burnt tinged, but we can ignore that) italian meringue with pretty cachous and rock sugar sprinkled throughout sounds like a good idea.

Well turns out it looks like a snow-capped earthship. Even the smallest declared I might have put a bit too much ‘icing on’. I kept adding to it, hoping it would get better.

It didn’t.

I added tall beautiful beeswax candles, that did help a little as a distraction technique, and then all we had to do was cut into it.

All was ok again once more, it really did taste great.

Lemon and olive oil cake with lemon curd and italian meringue is a combination that works, that part is definitely tried and true. It’s the decorating bit that needs an overhaul, unless you are wanting a snow capped earthship building cake of course, and then hey, I’ve got you covered.

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Lemon and Olive Oil Cake recipe here.

Three Blue Ducks Lemon Curd recipe

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little soft sweet white peaks of cloud

lemon meringue

lemon meringue

My grandmother once told me she used to make a sponge cake each year for her own birthday cake when her kids were young. That’s what they all loved to eat, so that’s what she would make, she said over a pot of tea one day. Kind and generous yes, and certainly in keeping with a birthday spirit. But… my 83 year old grandmother doesn’t like sponge cake. She never has.

It was probably never going to be a problem that I would have. Committed to my kids taste buds, of course. I frequently catered to their often under ripe taste buds. But committed enough to make them (me) a sponge cake? Oh hell no, (I don’t like them either.)

Several people offered to make me a birthday cake this year. I said that was so very kind, and then politely declined though. You see, I love making my own cake (or tart as the case may be.) It’s the one time of the year, I can make something exactly to my own taste buds. No chocolate, no lollies, no cream… no sponge cake.

For this years birthday I had lemon meringue pie on my mind, and I’d been planning it ever since the last time I had made it, (with added blueberries for good measure.)

“…but it’s not a proper birthday if there isn’t cake,” declared an unsure little voice.

 “Piffle,” I said confidently, “How exciting will the little soft sweet white peaks of cloud like meringue look in amongst a few candles.” Birthday’s can be anything you want it to be, that’s the wonderful thing about birthdays.” 

I kept that close in mind when I decided I would like wholemeal spelt pancakes, blueberries, mangoes, crackers and cheese for dinner as well…anything I want it to be, right?

lemon meringue

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And as my still fairly recent tradition of making something meringue-y for my birthday continues, so does my recipe list.

Lemon Meringue Pie 2013

Blue Cherry Meringue Tart 2012

Berry Meringue Tart 2011

A Rather Tall Birthday Cake 2010

a lemon meringue pie to die for

lemon meringue pie- cityhippyfarmgirl

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lemon meringue pie- cityhippyfarmgirl

I’m the kind of girl who when reading a menu in a restaurant, goes straight to the dessert list at the back.

I’m also the kind of girl who is happy to squash a nose up against cafe glass in order to see a cake cabinet just that little bit better.

I’m definitely the kind of girl to stare off dreamily, thinking about how I was going to tweak my current Lemon Meringue Pie recipe.

It’s just the sort of girl I am.

Me and Lemon Meringue Pie go way back. Way, way back to the time when as a little girl, I would take just a little longer in the fridge than was necessary, carefully dipping my finger into the lemony mixture of the pie. I’d also watch any baking my mum would be doing using condensed milk, hoping for a quick turn of her back, so I could get into that empty sweet goodness can. As a baby I was known to happily enjoy eating lemon segments in my highchair. You see Lemon Meringue Pie and I, we were always meant to be.

When I first blogged about it with this lemon meringue pie. I thought I had nailed it.

Alas, not so. Not even remotely. How do I know this? I know this as, this is the recipe that I will now take to my grave. Not in a not sharing kind of way, but more, I’d like to be buried with the recipe on me. It’s that kind of love.

Now I know Lemon Meringue Pie is serious business and people generally fall into two categories- you either thinks it ok, or love it to the moon and back, and maybe back again one more time. It’s the latter kind of people who will be scrutinising this recipe and wondering whether this really is the recipe to end all recipes, (and to be buried with.)

I sincerely think it is.

lemon meringue pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Pastry

180g softened butter

50g icing sugar

2 egg yolks

250g plain flour

In a mixer beat the butter and sugar together until pale, then add the yolks. Gently mix through the flour and a tablespoon or so of cold water to bring it together. Between two baking sheets, roll it out to about .5cm thickness. Into the fridge for about an hour. Grease your pie or tart dish and line the pastry with it. With fork, prick the base all over and bake blind at 180C for about 20 minutes or until light golden.

Lemon Middle

1 can condensed milk

2 egg yolks

125mls lemon juice

zest of one whole lemon

1 tsp cornflour

Whisk in a pot over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Pour into the pie base and set in the fridge until cold.

Italian Meringue

2 egg whites

175g sugar

60mls water

Whisk egg whites to a soft peak form, while you are doing that, in a pot add the sugar and water. Dissolve over a medium heat, using a small wet pastry brush to brush down any sugar particles on the side. Bring the heat up to 121C (hard ball stage) and with the mixer still going high, pour in the sugar syrup in a steady slow stream. Keep beating until the mixture is thick and glossy (about 10 minutes or so, until it becomes room temperature.)

Pipe it on to your pie base.

Eat with enthusiasm and generous helpings.