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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/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/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 15 Others have said

  • 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
  • This receipe was my sons choice for one of our NYE desserts. So easy ~ just need 2 bowls, one for the cake and one for the meringue. And so fast ~ bakes in just about 20 minutes. It makes a nice presentation and quite the crowd pleaser!

    Posted by Coventina on 3rd January 2012
  • Vis-a-vis a biscuit base for a lemon meringue pie, I've found that using ginger nuts is tastier than digestives.

    Posted by Margo Dunlop on 8th November 2011
  • thank you. it was really tasty.

    Posted by foboki on 22nd September 2011
  • This is simply 'Lemon meringue dream cake' I cannot express the sheer joy of delivering this up to my family, fiends and ME! Absolutely the BEST. Thanks Nigella

    Posted by Noisy on 3rd August 2011
  • If you want to make a lemon meringue pie, but you do not fancy to go through all the trouble of making a pastry base, it is far easier and quicker to melt 50 grams of butter and then stir in 250 grams of crushed digestive buscuits with 100 grams of sugar. Stir until all the crumbs look like wet sand and put it in your baking tin. push to with the bottom of a spoon to make it all even, and presto! your base is ready for the rest of the meringue :) (another plus is that the lemony juices seep into the digestive crumbs, giving the whole pie an extra boost)

    Posted by Virginia* on 20th June 2011
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