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Lemon Meringue Cake

by . Featured in FEAST
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Introduction

In all honesty, the origin of this cake is simply that I cannot make a go of a lemon meringue pie. I've tried, and I've tried, and it's not that I've utterly failed, but I haven't completely delighted myself. There's enough of that kind of falling short in the rest of life, without having to usher in disappointment and self-loathing in the kitchen. This, then, is the easy option. And the funny thing is, the layers of sponge, with their crisp-carapaced squashy-bellied meringue topping are, sandwiched with tart lemon curd and softly whipped cream, so much better than a lemon meringue pie could ever be.

In all honesty, the origin of this cake is simply that I cannot make a go of a lemon meringue pie. I've tried, and I've tried, and it's not that I've utterly failed, but I haven't completely delighted myself. There's enough of that kind of falling short in the rest of life, without having to usher in disappointment and self-loathing in the kitchen. This, then, is the easy option. And the funny thing is, the layers of sponge, with their crisp-carapaced squashy-bellied meringue topping are, sandwiched with tart lemon curd and softly whipped cream, so much better than a lemon meringue pie could ever be.

Lemon Meringue Cake
Photo by James Merrell

Ingredients

Makes: 8 slices

Metric Cups
  • 125 grams very soft unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs (separated)
  • 300 grams caster sugar (plus 1 teaspoon)
  • 100 grams plain flour
  • 25 grams cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 150 millilitres double cream (or whipping cream)
  • 150 grams good quality lemon curd
  • 1¼ sticks very soft unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs (separated)
  • 1½ cups superfine sugar (plus 1 teaspoon)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)
  • 5¼ ounces good quality lemon curd

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/180°C Fan/400ºF. Line and butter two 21cm / 8 inch sandwich tins.
  2. Mix the egg yolks, 100g / ½ cup of the sugar, the butter, flour, cornflour, baking powder, bicarb, and lemon zest in a processor. Add the lemon juice and milk and process again.
  3. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins. You will think you don't even have enough to cover the bottom of the tins, but don't panic. Spread calmly with a rubber spatula until smooth.
  4. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form and then slowly whisk in 200g / 1 cup of sugar. Divide the whisked whites between the two sponge-filled tins, pouring or, more accurately, spreading the meringue straight on top of the cake batter.
  5. Smooth one flat with a metal spatula, and with the back of a spoon, peak the other and sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over the peaks. Put the tins into the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  6. With a cake-tester, pierce the cake that has the flat meringue topping to check it's cooked all through. (It will have risen now but will fall back flattish later.) No sponge mixture should stick to the tester. Remove both cakes to a wire rack and let cool completely in the tins.
  7. Unmould the flat-topped one on to a cake stand or plate, meringue side down.
  8. Whisk the double cream until thick but not stiff and set aside. Spread the flat sponge surface of the first, waiting, cake with the lemon curd and than spatula over the cream and top with the remaining cake, bronze-peaked meringue uppermost.
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/180°C Fan/400ºF. Line and butter two 21cm / 8 inch sandwich tins.
  2. Mix the egg yolks, 100g / ½ cup of the sugar, the butter, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, bicarb, and lemon zest in a processor. Add the lemon juice and milk and process again.
  3. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins. You will think you don't even have enough to cover the bottom of the tins, but don't panic. Spread calmly with a rubber spatula until smooth.
  4. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form and then slowly whisk in 200g / 1 cup of sugar. Divide the whisked whites between the two sponge-filled tins, pouring or, more accurately, spreading the meringue straight on top of the cake batter.
  5. Smooth one flat with a metal spatula, and with the back of a spoon, peak the other and sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over the peaks. Put the tins into the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  6. With a cake-tester, pierce the cake that has the flat meringue topping to check it's cooked all through. (It will have risen now but will fall back flattish later.) No sponge mixture should stick to the tester. Remove both cakes to a wire rack and let cool completely in the tins.
  7. Unmould the flat-topped one on to a cake stand or plate, meringue side down.
  8. Whisk the heavy cream until thick but not stiff and set aside. Spread the flat sponge surface of the first, waiting, cake with the lemon curd and than spatula over the cream and top with the remaining cake, bronze-peaked meringue uppermost.

Tell us what you think

What 20 Others have said

  • This is my favourite Nigella cake; really tasty and special enough to wow guests. I make the cake and then while the two cake halves are cooling, use the recipe in the Feast book for the lemon curd, it so quick and simple to make and is divine. Dust with icing sugar then serve. Definitely recommend you try this one!

    Posted by George739 on 9th December 2017
  • This is a real show stopper to impress your friends and family. This cake never stays around for long it’s light, delicious and wickedly moorish. X

    Posted by Eyelash on 25th October 2017
  • Turned out really well and when decorated with raspberries it made the perfect birthday cake. Easily cut into 12 slices. I took a little more time by mixing the ingredients separately rather than using a processor. Will definitely make this again. My lemon curd was a bit runny so by the time we ate it the curd had run down the outside of the cake. Need a more solid curd next time.

    Posted by psilvester on 4th October 2017
  • Oh my, it might not have been the prettiest cake I've ever made, but was absolutely gorgeous! After having a slice each we all sat there with spoons & scoffed the lot

    Posted by Macsmummy on 17th September 2017
  • This is gorgeous!

    Posted by cocointhekitchen on 27th April 2017
  • Just terrific. I followed the recipe to the letter and it was delicious (I don't have two matching springform pans so I just divided the mixture into 2 and baked them one after the other, which was time consuming but fine). The lemon curd was yum but I reckon it would work well with strawberry jam in its place too, if that was all you had to hand.

    Posted by kemery82 on 1st September 2015
  • Not sure what I did wrong with this. Everything went well until I put it in the oven. The top browned in 10 minutes so I turned it down and took it out after 15 minutes as it was starting to blacken. Haven't taken it out of the pans yet but the cake batter has risen through the meringue, don't think it will be one of my best. Any suggestions? thinking that I should partially cook the cake batter first.

    Posted by Mez4 on 24th July 2011
  • Such a good cake to bake! its defiantly worth making an extra layer to it!!

    Posted by millscakes on 23rd August 2014
  • Hey everyone, I have a restaurant or more like tiny weeny cafe... I tried this recipe and it ROCKED!!! Loads of compliments from customers. Thanks a lot Nigella.

    Posted by ChocolateFreak... on 2nd February 2013
  • It's Boxing Day and I just made this for my family to enjoy tonight!! Looks fab and delicious! Cannot wait to tuck in. Thanks Nigella

    Posted by Nilms on 26th December 2012
  • This cake is delicious, just the right level of lemon and the meringue bottom actually works. I thought the cake mixture looked a bit dry so added a few splashes of milk on top of the tablespoons Nigella recommends and this worked well - the cake layers were soft and lovely.

    Posted by annabelle1 on 31st March 2012
  • Love this cake which came highly recommended - but few adjustments to recipe needed for me to get it right... oven too hot at 200C so used 180C. Also cooking time is too long at 20-25 mins so for my oven I used 18 mins (I have a Neff double oven). I also added whole of juice of lemon (by mistake) which was really lemony but made cake bit a bit soggy but still delicious

    Posted by what's for tea mum on 8th February 2012
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