The first rule of Clandestine Cake Club is you must bake a cake, so bake we did!
Late into the night after work on a Friday we baked. Sipping on elderflower cordial for B, wine for E and beer for C.
We discussed how to avoid baking disasters, the benefits of having friendly neighbours and places we are planning to visit this year. All whilst whipping up a little Italian meringue….
The next day the cake accompanied us on the Great Central Railway all the way to Loughborough, we were so nervous it would not make it, happily it arrived safely with a little help from Janet, Lynn and Amy!
Here is the recipe for our train traveling cake, our lemon meringue layer cake
To bake the cake you will need:
- three six inch cake tins, greased and base lined with silicone paper
- 360g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 360g caster sugar
- two lemons using the zest of two and the juice of one
- 6 medium eggs at room temperature
- 360g self raising flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- a pinch of salt
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (fan). Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Crack the eggs into a measuring jug and mix well with a whisk or fork then set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a mixing bowl with a hand held mixer cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add a good spoonful of flour to the butter and sugar to stabilise the mix then gradually pour in the eggs, very slowly in short bursts and beating well after each addition. If the mix looks likely to split add another spoonful of flour so the mix comes back together. Once all the eggs are well incorporated add the remaining flour and mix until you have a smooth mixture. Lastly fold in the lemon juice with a spatular.
Divide the mixture evenly between the three cake tins- 420 grams to each tin if you want to be super accurate! Place on the central shelf of the pre-heated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake springs back to the touch or a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and leave to cool for 10-15minutes, then turn the cakes out onto the cooling rack and leave to cool completely. We only had two cake tins between us so baked our cakes in two batches, this meant the batter for our third cake stood around for about half an hour before being baked but this didn’t seem to affect the end result too much
Whilst the cakes are cooling prepare the ingredients for filling the cake and making the italian meringue……
To make the italian meringue you will need
- 6 medium eggs at room temperature
- 360g caster sugar
- roughly 100ml water
- jam thermometer– a really useful bit of kit for the kitchen, worth investing in if you don’t have one
To assemble the cake you will need
- 50g meringues- homemade or bought
- 120g good and zesty lemon curd
- A blow torch, not essential but does add theatre to the finished cake
Italian meringue uses the same ingredients as the more familiar french meringue but in slightly different proportions and method. The sugar is boiled to soft crack then poured into the whipped egg whites to cook them. It’s absolutely delicious as a cake topping and can be used as a base for frozen parfaits and macarons. We made our Italian meringue in a kitchen aid mixer, i’ve made it before with a handheld mixer with some success though it did get messy, and boiling sugar must be treated with care! All this being said its quick and simple to make…..
Begin by placing the sugar into a saucepan then slowly pour in the water until it just covers the sugar. All the sugar must be below the waterline, so if any granules sneak up the side of the pan use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush them back down into the water – this will help ensure the sugar does not crystallise as it is heated. Place the thermometer into the pan and heat the sugar so it comes to a rolling boil. Meanwhile separate the eggs, place the whites into the bowl of an electric mixer or into a mixing bowl with a hand held mixer . The yolks can be kept in the fridge for up to 2-3 days, depending on the age of the egg. Save them to make a creme brûlée or custard based pudding at a later date. Whisk the egg whites to a soft peak, once this is achieved stop whisking. Heat the sugar to a temperature of 116-118°C then begin whisking the egg whites again so they come to a stiff peak. Pour the sugar mixture in a steady stream down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture. Once all the sugar is added continue to whip the mixture until it is cool.
The mixture should be glossy and thick, with the consistency of a marshmallow. Set the meringue mix aside whilst assembling the cake.
Place the bottom layer of the cake onto a plate or cake stand and with a palette knife/back of a spoon spread a good layer of lemon curd over the top of the cake and crumble over half of the meringue. Stack the next layer of cake carefully on top and repeat with the lemon curd and meringue then top with the final layer of cake. Spread the italian meringue all over the cake so you have a full even covering then use a blow torch to scorch the cake to give it a burnished toasted marshmallow look.
You can see photos of our lemon meringue layer cake in action here, it was rather tasty (If we do say so ourselves!) and along with several other spectacular cakes whent down a storm at the LCCC book launch!
What are you baking this weekend?