Lemon Meringue Layer Cake

Toasted lemon meringue cake

Calling all you lemon lovers out there! This one’s for you. Moist sponge cake with a lemon mousse filling, topped with a toasted meringue frosting. It’s both decadent and delicious!

I haven’t posted a cake recipe on my website yet, because I always feel like it’s too complicated. I have a tendency to make really elaborate, time-consuming cakes with so many moving parts because I love a challenge. But recently I am taking a step back and working more on flavour, instead of complexity.

partially frosted cake on table

It starts with a moist vanilla cake- I tried the reverse creaming method for the first time and I must say I am a fan! It turned out with a tightly packed crumb and great mouthfeel.

Reverse Creaming

Instead of creaming the sugar and butter at the beginning, you cream the butter, sugar, and dry ingredients together first. The idea is that the butter coats the flour, and reduces the gluten formation, creating a more tender cake. The flour won’t create gluten until a liquid is added.

frosted meringue cake before toasting

Lemon Mousse:

Lemon curd may be one of the greatest foods of all time. This lemon mousse is created with lemon curd as a base, which is then combined with some gelatin, whipped egg whites, and cream to make a deliciously tangy mousse. It is a 2 step process if you make your own lemon curd, but well worth it!

This mousse recipe uses egg whites that aren’t cooked. I tend to use pasteurized egg whites from a carton so they are safe to eat. If you are weary of this, you can follow the same principles as the frosting, and instead of adding the dry granulated sugar to the egg whites, you can prepare them similar to the frosting and add the sugar as a hot sugar syrup to partially cook the whites (see notes).

I used my lovely lemon curd recipe in this mousse if you need an easy one!

toasted meringue cake on table

Italian Meringue:

Italian meringue is created by making a hot sugar syrup, that is mixed into partially whipped egg whites. This hot sugar syrup partially cooks the egg whites making them safe to eat without being pasteurized, and stabilizes them so that they keep their shape.

The frosting basically tasted like a marshmallow (especially when it was all toasty!). The frosting is a bit sweet, but the rest of the cake is quite tangy so I felt like it balanced out alright! I toasted my frosting with a culinary torch to get that lovely toasty golden brown colour.

lemon meringue cake with slice cut

If you are feeling like you want to make a cake to impress- give this one a try.

I made this cake as a 4-inch cake (baked on a sheet pan and cut out the cake rounds) but you could also double the recipe a slightly larger 6-inch as well!

Equipment Required: 

  • 4-inch cake pans or 9×13 inch tray
  • Acetate cake collar
  • 4-inch springform pan or 4-inch cake ring
  • Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
  • Instant-Read Thermometer
  • Offset Spatula
  • Culinary Torch

Lemon Meringue Layer Cake

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 to 5 Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients

  • Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (unsalted, softened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1 lemon

  • Mousse
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon gelatin
  • 1 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • ~1/2 cup prepared lemon curd (1/2 this recipe)

  • Italian Meringue
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

1

Prepare the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3, 4-inch cake pans, or a 9x13 inch tray. Line with parchment paper.

2

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix briefly to combine. Add the butter, vanilla, and 1/4 cup of milk. Mix until the mixture is moistened.

3

In a separate bowl, mix together the rest of the milk, sour cream, egg, and lemon zest. Add this to the mixer in 3 additions, mixing briefly between each addition. Scrape the bowl and fold by hand to make sure the bottom has been mixed. Avoid over mixing the batter.

4

Pour batter into the prepared baking tray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool briefly before removing from pan and parchment. Allow to cool completely.

5

Level the cake with a long knife so it is flat. Use a 4 inch round cutter to cut 3 rounds of cake, I was able to get 2 full circles, and then 2 1/2 circles. I kept the scraps so I could fill in this layer to make it whole (this will be the middle layer).

6

Prepare the Mousse: Add the water and gelatin to a small saucepan. After 5 minutes, heat the saucepan until the gelatin melts. Add 1/4 cup of the lemon curd into a saucepan mix to combine. Empty into a large bowl with the remaining lemon curd. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar slowly, and whip until stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the lemon curd mixture. Use the same mixing bowl and beaters, beat the cream until it holds stiff peaks. Fold this into the lemon curd mixture as well.

7

Assemble the cake: Line a 4-inch round cake ring, or 4-inch springform pan with an acetate sheet. This will support the layers as you build the cake. Lay down one of the cake rounds in the bottom. Add 1/2 of the prepared mousse filling on top of the 1st cake layer and smooth to the edges. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to lightly set the mousse, before adding the next cake layer using the 2 1/2 circles and the scraps to fill in any holes. Add the rest of the mousse on top of this layer and freeze for 10 minutes to set the mousse lightly. Top with the final cake layer and freeze for a couple of hours to set, or place in the fridge for 4-6 hours.

8

Prepare the Frosting: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and the water. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved, then stop stirring and continue heating the sugar. When the mixture is at 230 degrees F, start whipping your egg whites in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. When the sugar registers 240 degrees F, immediately remove from the heat. With the beaters running, slowly pour the hot sugar down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Continue mixing until the bowl is cool to the touch, and the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Mix in the vanilla extract.

9

Frost the Cake: Remove acetate collar from the cake. Place on a serving platter. Spoon a large scoop of frosting on the top of the cake and use an off-set spatula to spread the frosting down the sides evenly. Once the cake is coated, use your spatula to create peaks and swoops all over the cake.

10

Use a culinary torch to toast the outside of the cake until all of your peaks and swoops become golden brown.

Notes

This is a 3 layer, 4-inch cake. If you would like to make a 6-inch cake, you can double the recipe!

I used pasteurized egg whites in this recipe for the mousse, but if you use fresh and are worried about the uncooked egg, follow the steps for the Italian meringue to make a sugar syrup that you add to the egg whites. Simply cook the 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1 tablespoon of water until it dissolves, and the mixture reaches 240 degrees F. Follow the directions listed for the frosting for adding the sugar.

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