No no and no!
I do not want to write down this recipe!
…..well….ok I’ll do it…
I do not know if you ever had the experience of deciding to cook a special cake the last minute for your friend’s dinner….and naturally you had no time for it….and naturally you chose a brand new recipe…and IT WAS A TOTAL DISASTER!!!
As you may presume, this was my experience yesterday! Taking a totally new recipe and trying to cook it quickly and effectively! I was so desperate… imagine that, between my wife’s curses we got to go out and buy some sweets from the nearby market! It was so awful!! I felt so ashamed!
The recipe itself it is not THAT complicated, but the particolar procedure of the lemon cream, a specifico ne for the Meringue cake, it was a total overkill…Obviously I did not have the time to properly cook the meringue topping and everything went worse, if possible!
Just to be clear a proper Meringue Cake should consist of a firm lemon cream topped with a fluffy meringue that develops a crunchy crust thanks to the sugar! It make my mouth watering only thinking about it!! Obviously my cream was a failure: it was totally liquid!!! And I did not have the time to cook it properly so at half the time the meringue lost its volume!! Small consolation was that I managed to give the cake a very good taste, but only after a night in the jail (read fridge).
After all I feel obliged, and to be honest a slice of the cake made my day, to let you know all I’ve been through in this recipe!
Ingredients for 12 portions:
- 1 frozen shortpastry roll – € 1.40
- 4 lemons – € 1.70 al kg
- 5 medium size eggs – € 1.39 every 4 pieces
- 100 gr sugar – € 1.20 per kg
- 100 gr butter – € 2.50 per 250 gr
- 1 stick of bourbon vanilla – € 2.20 (2 pieces per box)
- 175 gr icing sugar – € 5.00 per kg
- 1 tablespoon of maizena or potato starch
Let’s start to say that it would be wise, contrary to my actions as you may presume, to prepare part of the ingredient the day before to make the preparation easier.
To make everything clearer I will divide the recipe in 3 stages and, after that, we will go for the final baking!
This part is very easy but some tricks can be useful. We take a large cake mould for pies. We brush it with melt butter and we put some flour. We spread our pastry and we pierce it very thick on every side. This is an operation meant to keep the shortpastry flat. Failing to do so will let it grow and lose its shape! We could also use a cooking sheet on the top of the pastry and putting dry beans as a weight. We let it cook at 180° for 20 minutes. We wait to let it cool before taking it out from the mould.
Now it is frightening to revive all this procedure. It is not a classical cream since we miss milk/cream and therefore it does not build firm and dense easily. One kitchenware that everyone should use for this preparation is the digital thermometer: it costs roughly € 20.00 and it makes you follow the correct temperatures during the preparations. After all the Pastry cooking is Science!
We take the lemons and squeeze out of them 100 ml of juice. We use one of the lemon to grate its zest and let it rest in the juice for 20 minutes. We brake 5 eggs, we take the yolks with clean hands and we put them in a casserole. We add sugar to the yolks and mix them till they are of a pale yellow. We add then the lemon juice and the inside of the vanilla sticks. We mix them for 5 minutes. Now we put the mixture on the heat till it reaches 80° Celsius. When it does we take the casserole out of the flame and put in a bowl with cold water. We take a mixer (the one we usually use for the vegetable creams) and we mix the cream till it reaches 50°. Once it does it we add the butter and mix again till it is smooth. Once the cream is perfectly even we pour it into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (remember to let the plastic touch the cream, so it prevents contact with air). Here I did my first mistake: I put it in the freezer (which alone is not a mistake) but I did not wait the necessary time to cool till the point it is dense. I was so scared I used potato starch well mixed into the cream to let it dense! It was still too liquid even if it was denser. Just the day after I understood that the butter needed to cool properly to give the cream the proper structure! So after a night in the fridge it was perfect….not so perfect was my stomach!!
This one is seriously easy! It is better to perform this part of the recipe right before the final baking. We take our mixer (mind that the whips must be perfectly clean) and we mix the egg whites till start to be firm. When they do we add the icing sugar a bit at a time and continue to mix for 5 minutes. Done. Easy isn’t it?
Now it comes the cake building! We have 2 choices: 1 – wait till both the short pastry and the cream are well cold and pour the cream in the pastry evenly. 2 – put the liquid cream in the cold pastry and let it rest in the fridge till well firm. In any case it is a MUST that the cream is firm and dense or layering the meringue on top of it will be a nightmare!!! The best way to do it is with a sac a poche, which can give us the chance of decorating the meringue! As you may guess I used a normal spatula and the result is all but encouraging…
We bake the cake 35 minutes at preheated 150° temperature. The Meringue has to become slightly brown building the crust! If it breaks no worries, it is just cooking. Let the cake cool in the oven and then let it rest overnight in the fridge. Mind that the cream in the oven is again liquid and it has to cool down again to be firm!
I guarantee that its taste is absolutely fantastic and the day after it made me relax a bit after the awful day I spent! I brought it to some friends that loved it totally!!
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?? Today’s cost per portion is only € 0.54!! Not bad at all!!