Saturday, January 29, 2011

Recipe: Meringue-Encrusted Lemon Cakes - The Cookbook Challenge Week 2

The theme for this fortnight's challenge was 'lemon'.
My lemon reamer
When I was a child it was common to eat dessert after the evening meal. My Mum would bake custards, rice puddings, stewed fruit or simply jelly & ice cream.  By the time I had my own babies in the 80s, we were far more health conscious and much to my Mother's concern, dessert had become a treat, not an every day occurence.   "But what are you giving the children for dessert?"

Dessert, in our household at least, is still something enjoyed only occasionally after a celebratory lunch or dinner so I like it to be rather special.

My eldest daughter 'taste-testing'
Lemons with their tangy flavour, sweet fragrance and beautiful colour lend themselves to desserts.   I found a luscious, lemony recipe in a book my eldest daughter (pictured above) gave me last year called 'Seasons' by Australian cookbook author, Donna Hay.   The book is a collection of recipes from Donna's bi-monthly cooking magazine.  Divided into Seasons and then into Sweet and Savoury recipes, the book provides not only inspirational, seasonal food but also a feast for the eye with stunning food photography.   Just browsing the pages evokes those feelings of summer, winter, autumn and spring.    From the book...

"Summer means sand
between your toes,
endless days with not much
to do and all day to do it in
and the promise of buckets of fresh,
sparkling flavours 
cooked simply at
day's end."

Seasons by Donna Hay
So, back to my entry for this fortnight's Cookbook Challenge...

Some of you may remember that spectacular dessert, Bombe Alaska - a flaming white mountain of meringue snow blanketing a layer of cake and ice-cream.    They were first produced in 1876 in New York to celebrate the newly acquired territory of Alaska.   A French chef, Jean Giroix, popularized the dessert worldwide a decade later.

The recipe I've chosen is a variation of the Bombe with a lemon twist that Donna Hay calls 'Meringue-Encrusted Lemon Cakes'.  They're basically individual lemon cakes topped with a scoop of ice-cream, covered in meringue and browned quickly under the grill, the meringue acting as an insulator to keep the ice-cream firm.  Not only decadent and delicious but also quite beautiful to present to your guests.

Meringue-Encased Lemon cakes



125 butter, softened
1 cup (220g) caster (superfine) sugar
1/4 cup finely grated lemon rind
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups (225g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
1/3 cup (80ml) milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 scoops good quality vanilla ice-cream


150g egg whites (approximately 4 eggs)
1 cup (220g) caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar



Preheat the oven to 160 C (320 F).    Place the butter, sugar and lemon rind in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy.  Gradually add the eggs and beat well.  Fold in the flour, baking powder, milk and lemon juice.  Spoon the mixture into 6 x 1 cup-capacity (250ml) lightly greased muffin tins (I used bundt tins) and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.  Cool in the tins for 5 minutes.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.

1-cup capacity bundt tins worked well for this recipe
Using a tablespoon, scoop out a hole in the top of each cake - if using bundt tins, there is already a hollow in the top of the cake.  Fill the hole or hollow with a scoop of ice-cream.  Place the cakes on a tray and freeze for 30 minutes.  

Spread the basic meringue mixture over the cakes and place on a baking tray.   Cook under a preheated hot grill (my choice) or in a preheated 200 C (350 F) oven for 2-3 minutes or until the meringue is set and golden.   Serve immediately.  Makes 6.  

Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks form.   Gradually add the sugar and vinegar and beat until the mixture is thick and glossy.  Use immediately.

Until next time, enjoy!


Annie x

For more images visit Ann McLeod Photography


  1. An amazing looking dessert, I can only imagine how that was to eat. Very lush. Your post is beautifully presented also, a pleasure to come and have a look at. I do want one of those cakes now! They take me back to the days in very early 1990's when I worked in a French restaurant in a 4 star hotel in Alice Springs as the Chef made Bombe Alaska for the dessert course for bus groups. The lights would be dimmed, we would pour a liqueur over the Bombe and walk in with them alight to everyone's gasps of appreciation.

  2. They look so gorgeous!! Though I can't have them because of my food intolerances, I really enjoy looking at your photographs. You make the dessert look so delectable! Great job!

  3. Your photography is absolutely stunning!!

  4. Beautiful! I've only ever attempted a Bombe Alaska once without much success, so I take my hat off to you!!