Lemon Meringue Delight Cake

Lemon Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Have you ever noticed that the best thing to pair with lemon seems to be . . . lemon? Every time I make a lemon cake or cupcake, aside from my occasional frolic with lavender and lemon or blueberry and lemon, all I want to do is add more lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, lemon filling, lemon topping, lemon curd, lemon frosting and lemon buttercream. Lemon!

Lemon Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

During some of my recent baking in preparation for my sister-in-law’s baby shower, I did some lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd and topped with lemon frosting, and I realized that I haven’t made a completely lemony layer cake in a long time. It was definitely time. And wait! Before you scroll down and read the recipe, just know that there are a few components in this cake that do take some time, but don’t let that scare you away — most of this cake can be made up to a few weeks ahead of time, so the actual assembly of the cake really is pretty quick and simple.

So what is a Lemon Meringue Delight Cake? It’s three layers of moist, lemony sponge cake filled with homemade lemon curd, lemon curd Swiss meringue buttercream and baked meringue discs, and frosted in more lemon curd Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with more lemon curd, swirls of buttercream, baked meringue swirls and lemon drop candy. In other words, a lotta lemony loveliness.

Lemon Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

A lemon party of sorts.

Lemon Meringue Milkshake via Sweetapolita

Remember these Lemon Meringue Milkshake & Mini Swirl Meringues? I make those little swirl meringues often, and I thought they’d make perfect little lemon cake decorations, so I just made them a bit bigger and a tad more swirly for this cake. In this particular recipe I did the meringues with a Swiss meringue method (heating the sugar and egg whites over a pot of simmering water until they reach 140-160°F and then whipping them in the mixer), but you can also do them with a traditional French meringue method (whisking the room temperature/warm egg whites in the mixer until they become foamy, then adding the sugar gradually, beating until stiff peaks form). I found, though, that the Swiss version seems to bake very glossy and the French meringue bakes a little more matte. The ones I used on the cake ended up being the French version, but I made some last night using the Swiss method and they were so nice and glossy. (They seem to taste the same either way.)

Baked meringues have my heart because, aside from their addictive sweet, light and crispy-ness, you can make a big batch and keep them airtight for weeks, making them ideal for topping cakes or cupcakes. And, of course, for random snacking. I thought it would be fun to make a few larger discs and put them right on top of the lemon curd filling in the cake, so when you’re taking lemony cake bites you hit little bursts of lemon meringue surprises along the way.

Lemon Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Lemon Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Lemon Meringue Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Lemon = Happy.

Again, I know the recipe looks a little daunting because of all of the components, but if you do a bit ahead of time, it really is a joy to make. Keep remaining lemon curd in an airtight container in the freezer for a zippy addition to pancakes, muffins, scones and more  – you’ll thank me! ♥

Lemon Meringue Delight Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 8-inch round cake

Serving Size: 8-10

Three layers of moist lemon sponge cake filled with lemon curd and crisp baked meringue cookies and topped with lemon curd buttercream, more lemon curd and baked meringue swirls.

Ingredients

    For the Baked Meringue Swirls/Discs:
  • 3 egg whites (90 g)
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • A drop soft gel paste color, yellow
  • You will also need:
  • A large pastry bag
  • Decorating tip #1A
  • A small paintbrush
  • For the Lemon Curd:
  • 4 lemons (or 6 Meyer lemons), preferably organic
  • 2 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks (set whites aside for buttercream)
  • 1 cup sugar (200 g)
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small even cubes
  • For the Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 7 egg whites (210 g)
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups (454 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon curd
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Few drops of soft gel paste colour, yellow (I used electric yellow)
  • For the Lemon Cake:
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups (270 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(4 g) salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.75 ml) lemon extract
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • baked meringue swirls, for decorating
  • lemon drop candy, for decorating

Instructions

    For the Baked Meringue Swirls/Discs:
  1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer and the whisk attachment with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease.
  2. Add egg whites and sugar to the mixer bowl and fit onto the top of a medium saucepan filled with about 1-inch of simmering (not boiling) water. (Be sure the bottom of your bowl is not touching the water.) Whisk constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  3. Dry the underside of the mixer bowl and transfer to your stand mixer. Whip using the whisk attachment until the meringue is thick and glossy and has reached the stiff peak stage.
  4. While the meringue is whipping in the mixer, fit your decorating bag with a plain round pastry tip. Fold over a cuff at the top of the pastry bag and paint 3, equally-spaced, thin lines of yellow gel colour using your fine paint brush (you can use any paint brush, but it should only be one you designate for food) from the pastry tip up toward the cuff.
  5. Fill the bag with your meringue (no more than 2/3 full) and pipe 1-1/2-inch swirls onto one of the lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1-inch apart. (These will be used to decorate top of cake). On the second baking sheet, pipe the remaining meringue into flat discs, about 2-inches in diameter, spacing them about 1" apart. (These will be used on top of the filling inside the assembled cake.)
  6. Bake for 60 minutes, rotating the trays after 30 minutes. Lower the oven to 175°F and bake until dry, about 40 minutes more. Keep in an airtight container until needed.
  7. For the Lemon Curd:
  8. Wash lemons really well (with a bristled brush under cold water) and using a zester, remove all of the coloured portion of the peel from the fruit (not the white pith–it’s bitter!) into a bowl or onto a piece of wax paper. Rotate fruit as necessary to get as much of the zest off. Repeat until you have 2 teaspoons (30 ml) of the zest, and set aside.
  9. Slice the lemons in half crosswise (I find room temperature citrus is best for juicing) using a sharp knife, and extract as much of the juice as you can using a citrus reamer, or I use a small, manual citrus juicer. (Just be sure to catch all of the juice in a bowl and to completely strain the seeds before using.) Repeat the juicing until you have 2/3 cup (160 ml) of the strained juice.
  10. Get your double boiler ready by filling a saucepan with 1″ of water, then placing a metal bowl on top of the saucepan. You will need to ensure the bowl fits snugly into the top of the saucepan and that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water (important, or your eggs will cook). You can now remove the bowl and continue with making the curd.
  11. Whisk the juice, whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar in the bowl until smooth. Add the butter cubes to the bowl, but don’t stir.
  12. Heat the water in the saucepan over low heat until it simmers (not boils) and place the bowl atop the rim. Stirring gently, but constantly, using heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, cook until the curd has thickened and all of the butter has melted and is incorporated, about 10 minutes (this can vary). To test if the curd is thick enough, remove the spatula or spoon from the curd and check that it’s coated.
  13. Strain the curd over a bowl using a fine-mesh sieve and then stir in the zest. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly against the curd (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for at least 3 hours (I like to chill it overnight). It also thickens up a bit more while chilling. Keep refrigerated.
  14. For the Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  15. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites, sugar and salt, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  16. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don't begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
  17. Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Increase mixer speed to medium and whip until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add lemon curd and vanilla, continuing to beat on medium speed until well combined. Add yellow soft gel paste colour until desired shade of yellow is achieved.
  18. For the Lemon Cake:
  19. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour three round 8-inch pans. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar on medium high speed until very pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  20. Lower mixer speed to medium low and add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. Add lemon juice, vanilla, lemon extract and lemon zest and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add dry ingredients. Add yogurt, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.
  21. In another grease-free bowl, (or if you're lucky enough to have another mixer bowl) whip egg whites and remaining cup of sugar until they reach stiff peak stage. Fold meringue into batter until just combined, and divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Use a digital kitchen scale to weigh pans to ensure even layers, if possible (425 g of batter for each layer).
  22. Bake first two layers 2" apart in center of oven on top of a baking sheet until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center, about 25 minutes. Be careful to not over-bake -- check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Repeat with final cake layer. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  23. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best enjoyed day 1 or 2.
  24. Assembly of the Lemon Delight Layer Cake:
  25. Trim any doming or top crust and side crust from cake layers using a very sharp serrated knife (I use the Mac Bread Knife for all of my cake trimming, splitting, etc.).
  26. Use a cake turntable for filling, frosting and decorating, if a possible. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 8″ round thin foil-covered cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top, trimmed side up (face up).
  27. Pipe a dam (a rim around the top perimeter of the cake layer) of lemon curd buttercream around the cake layer using a large round Pastry Tip fitted inside a Decorating Bag. Then pipe another smaller circle of buttercream a few inches toward the center. Spoon lemon curd into the open spaces and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife, taking care to keep the curd within the dam (otherwise it will ooze out of the sides of the cake). Gently place cover the filling with a layer of the flat baked meringue discs, breaking them into smaller pieces if necessary to cover most of the layer.
  28. Repeat with second cake layer and more buttercream, lemon curd and meringue discs. Place final cake layer, trimmed side down. Look straight down from above cake and be sure the layers are all lined up, shifting gently if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  29. Remove from fridge and put a generous scoop of buttercream on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake (crumb-coat). Chill until set, another 30 minutes.
  30. Remove from refrigerator and covering the cake in another layer of buttercream, but this time using a thicker layer of buttercream and creating a smooth finish.
  31. For the top of the cake, using your decorating bag fitted with the large round tip , 2/3 full with buttercream, pipe 8 small swirls, evenly spaced. Top each swirl with a baked meringue swirls, and fill the spaces in between with lemon drop candy. Gently spoon a layer of lemon curd on top of the cake, using a toothpick to pull the curd to the inside edges of the candy and swirls.
  32. Store finished cake covered in refrigerator (due to the lemon curd filling), but serve at room temperature (you can remove from refrigerator several hours ahead of serving).

Notes

*You can make the baked meringues up to a few weeks in advance, keeping them in an airtight container at room temperature.

**You can make the lemon curd up to a month ahead, keeping it in an airtight container in freezer.

***You can make the Swiss meringue buttercream up to a month ahead, storing it in an airtight container in freezer, bringing to room temperature on counter the night before needed.

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Because Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Lemon Curd both take a little longer to make than some other fillings/frosting, I recommend making both ahead of time, if possible. They freeze well, and the buttercream can be simply brought to room temperature the night before you need it. The curd can basically be used straight from the freezer. If you go ahead and make all of the components in one day, there’s a good chance you will be cursing my name at random throughout the day. But even if you do go this route, it will still be worth it.
  • You can make the baked meringues up to two weeks before you need the cake, just keep them in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • You can bake the cake layers the day before you need to assemble the cake and keep them at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
  • I use my the MAC Carving Knife for all of my cake trimming and slicing — it’s amazing.
  • For the Swirl Meringues and the Lemon Swiss Buttercream I used Americolor Electric Yellow Soft Gel Paste to achieve that particular shade of happy.
  • For the lemon drop decorations I used Claeys Lemon Sanded Candy Drops.
  • You can watch me frost a cake with smooth edges here.

Good luck & enjoy!


Related posts:

Lemon Meringue Milkshakes & Mini Swirl Meringues

If you hear a muffled cry for help or cake, it’s likely me from under the endless boxes and stacks of stuff I’ve been getting ready to move in a few weeks. This is the first time we’ve ever moved a full house-load of things, and after 5 years of collecting cake tools, baking supplies, cake pedestals, food props, little girls’ toys, and more (oh, so much more), I may not make it out unscathed. And the thing is, when you’re in the thick of a move and the peak of the hot summer months, creating fancy cakes isn’t as likely as I would have hoped, but that doesn’t mean delightful desserts aren’t possible and, if anything, they’re more necessary than ever.

I recently received this irresistible book, Milkshake Bar by Hanna Miles, and it hit me–milkshakes are where I need to be right now, and vice versa. This book is filled with so much chilly inspiration (think creamy, jelly-filled Doughnut Floats served with a skewer of mini doughnuts; sweet and sponge-candy-topped Honeycomb Shakes; and refreshing, bright and bubbly Raspberry Ripple Floats) that can come to be in just moments–a concept that is much-welcomed in my world right now.

After first flip through the book, I was immediately drawn to the creamy & sunshiney awesomeness that is the Lemon Meringue Milkshake. It seems that my dessert-choices have been colour-driven lately, and bright yellow has my heart these days. And, as you probably remember, I have a real thing for lemony desserts (such as these and this), and since I always have Lemon Curd in my freezer, this recipe was super-simple to make.

What’s funny is that I made these meringues the day before with the intention to blog something totally different (which I will still do), so when I saw the recipe for the Lemon Meringue Milkshake called for a mini meringue topper, I knew it was all meant to be. To make life easier, you could certainly buy some mini meringues to top yours with, but if you do have the time to make these, they are incredible on their own and really satisfy the need for a little hit of sugar–2 for the shakes and 43 for you to innocently sneak, one-by-one, from the airtight container in which they happily sit. Makes good sense, right?

Made with whole milk, ice cream, lemon curd and lemon yogurt, this milkshake is a chilly creamy, dreamy, lemon confection that is sure to hit the sweet spot. ♥ And okay, okay–I did intentionally coordinate Nevie’s jumper with the milkshake, but I simply couldn’t resist!

Here’s the recipe:

Lemon Meringue Milkshakes          {click to print}

 

 

 

 

shared with permission, as written in the book Milkshake Bar by Hanna Miles

Lemon Meringue

3 tablespoons lemon curd

300 ml/1-1/4 cups lemon yogurt

3 scoops lemon or vanilla ice cream

300 ml/1-1/4 cups milk, chilled

2 mini meringues

2 soda glasses, chilled

2 straws

a squeezy bottle of piping bag with a small round nozzle tip

SERVES 2

Put two tablespoons of the lemon curd in a squeezy bottle or piping bag and pipe a lemon spiral onto the inside of each glass.

Put the yogurt, ice cream, milk and remaining tablespoon of lemon curd in a blender and whizz until smooth.

Pour into the prepared glasses and top each with a meringue. Serve immediately with straws and a spoon to eat the meringue.

Sweetapolita’s Notes

  • I typically have this Lemon Curd in my freezer at all times, because it’s such an easy way to add sunshine to any dessert, frosting, ice cream or even drink. You don’t need to thaw it, just pull what you need and it quickly softens back up.
  • You could certainly simplify the process by using store-bought lemon curd and prepared mini meringues (if you’re lucky enough to find those in the shops near you).
  • After pouring the milkshakes and topping with the meringue, they actually kept really nicely while I photographed Neve with hers, so if you’re preparing for a group at a luncheon or party, they should present nicely, even after you prepare an entire tray of them.
  • For my mini meringues, I used the Swiss Meringue method (heating the sugar and egg whites to 140°F, then whipping until reaches stiff peaks), but you could prepare the meringues any way you’re used to or prefer. You could simplify this process by creating pure white meringues, rather than the swirl variety.
Here’s the recipe for the meringues, and although this would be a lot of work for serving a couple of milkshakes, these are crispy, melt-in-your-mouth confections that you can serve by the platter-full and they would be gobbled up in seconds. They also make delightful cupcake toppers and cake decorations. I’ve also been told that they taste particularly Keep them at room-temperature in an airtight container.

Mini Swirl Meringues

 

 

 

 

Yield: ~45 1-inch round mini meringue swirls

Ingredients

3 egg whites (approximately 90 grams/3 ounces)

3/4 cup (150 grams/5 ounces) sugar

A drop of Americolor Electric Yellow  (or colour/shade of your choice)

One Decorating Bag, 14-Inch or 18-inch

Pastry tip #1A 

Small paintbrush

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease.

2. Add egg whites and sugar to the mixer bowl and fit onto the top of a medium saucepan filled with about 1-inch of simmering (not boiling) water. (Be sure the bottom of your bowl is not touching the water.) Whisk constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

3. Dry the underside of the mixer bowl and transfer to your stand mixer. Whip using the whisk attachment until the meringue is thick and glossy and has reached the stiff peak stage.

4. While the meringue is whipping in the mixer, fit your decorating bag with a plain round pastry tip. Fold over a cuff at the top of the pastry bag and paint 3, equally-spaced, thin lines of yellow gel colour using your fine paint brush (you can use any paint brush, but it should only be one you designate for food) from the pastry tip up toward the cuff.

5. Fill the bag with your meringue (no more than 2/3 full) and pipe small swirls onto your lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1-inch apart.

6. Bake at 200°F for 60 minutes, rotating the trays after 30 minutes. Lower the oven to 175°F and bake until dry, about 40 minutes more.

I’ll see you soon with some birthday-themed blogging!

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Lemon-Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake

Lemon Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Where to begin! I have so much to say right now–I really do. So here’s what happened: I’ve recently been crazy for anything with the combination teal/turquoise and yellow, and since I was planning a visit to see my sister-in-law earlier this week, I thought it would be the perfect time to make her some colourful treats, and not just any treat, but something special. I knew in my heart it was a French macaron kind of week, because they are not only a complete delight to make and share, but I can’t think of a sweet that says colour the way they do. So at first, this post was going to be all about the glory of macarons, sans cake, but then I decided to keep going with the colour and flavour combination, and tie them into a small cake (inside and out).

If you’re not familiar with macarons, they are small (about 1 1/2-inch diameter) and elegant sandwich cookies (particularly celebrated in Paris, but becoming increasingly popular in North America) made from almond flour, egg whites, granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar (for the shells) that bake up with a signature “ruffle” or “foot” around the base and slight gloss to the shell. They’re typically filled with anything from buttercream to ganache, and the flavour and colour combinations are pretty much endless, as you can also flavour the shells. What makes beloved macarons so incredibly special, in my opinion, is the way each bite is crispy, chewy and creamy all at once. (And possibly even more, depending on what you fill it with.) Each one is a little parade of texture and taste.

At first glance, aside from the hint of filling peeking through the sides, they may appear sort of dry or innocent, but they literally burst with flavour and melt in your mouth, making them worth every bit of effort. The thing is, the shells are not extremely time-consuming or difficult to make, but the effort required to take special care in the mixing and baking is what will typically result in a successful batch. That being said, they say even some of the most seasoned bakers and macaron makers experience occasional (and sometimes inexplicable) batch failure from time to time. So what does a “failed” macaron shell look like? Well, it might not develop the “foot,” the shell might be cracked, dull, flat, or hollow, and although those are the most common issues, I’m certain that there are more. With so much that can go wrong, it’s hard to imagine it going right, but with the a reliable recipe and instructions, and a bit of extra care and attention, it does, and macaron making is very rewarding.

So which macaron recipe did I follow to make these? Well, since I have not always had perfect luck or success with my previous few macaron attempts, I decided to give my friend Heather’s a try, from her new book SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist. I’ve been reading this incredibly inspiring book every day since receiving it, and I can’t seem to put it away–I truly want to make every single one her of recipes and designs (think glittery Snow Apples, artistic Free-Form Lollipops, innovative Pink Peppercorn Macarons, and more–so much more!). Since I adore Heather and all that she creates, I simply knew in my heart that her macaron recipe and technique would work well.

Lemon Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

I went ahead and made a few batches of the classic macarons: 1 teal, 1 turquoise and 1 egg yellow, and I filled them all with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream and little dollop of Lemon Curd in the middle (a little zingy gem in the middle). When I decided to create a macaron cake, my first thought was how colourful, textural and tasty it might be to add some actual macarons in the filling layer of the cake (it’s also a fabulous way to use up the shells that aren’t as perfect as the others), and it was! It adds a lovely and unexpected crunch with a little lemony surprise as they burst open upon each bite. I had an epiphany, after the fact, that it would have been even better had I created a blueberry cheesecake-type filling for the blue macarons, and added some of each to the cake, but, that’s just me. (I often have these ideas after I finish the cakes.)

Lemon Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

So I made a lemon-blueberry layer cake, filled it with the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream with some swirls of Lemon Curd, then nestled a layer of macarons (I ended up just using the shells, but if you’re macarons aren’t too tall, you can try adding the sandwiched macarons inside) into the filling. I tinted the buttercream teal and went ahead and frosted it as I normally do. I thought it would only make sense to finish the cake with some actual macarons, and remembered how fabulous it looked when Steph perched macarons on this cake and this cakecolour me inspired!

Lemon Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

I piped some small swirls where each macaron was to sit, placed them atop the cake, and finished it all off with some small yellow sugar decorations I found at a little shop several months ago–I knew they’d make perfect sense one day, and since they were imported from France they seemed particularly special and perfectly apropos. I love when that happens!

So here we go with the recipes and instructions, and I promise you that it’s worth it.

Lemon Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake          {click to print}

Yield: Two 6-inch round, 2-layer cakes

1 batch Lemon-Blueberry Cake split among four 6″ round cake pans (you can split the recipe in 1/2 for one 6″ round 2-layer cake)

1 batch Lemon Curd (this will fill cake and Macarons)

Double-batch Swiss Meringue Buttercream (this will frost cake and fill Macarons)

2 batches French Macarons, 1 tinted Teal and 1 tinted Egg Yellow and filled with a small dollop of Lemon Curd inside a teaspoon of the buttercream (piping the buttercream around the inner perimeter of the macaron shell works best)

*Note: This combination of cake components works well, because you can use the egg whites for the Swiss Buttercream and the yolks for the Lemon Curd.

French Macaron Recipe

shared with permission from the book, SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist, by Heather Baird

Macarons

YIELD: 12 sandwich cookies or 24 individual shells

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup almond flour

2 egg whites, at room temperature

Pinch of cream of tartar

1/4 cup superfine sugar

Gel food coloring (optional)

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/4-inch plain tip (or use a zip-top plastic bag without a tip and snip the corner after filling).

2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well combined.

3. Using a hand-mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Stop the mixer and add the cream of tartar. Start the mixer again and continue beating at medium speed until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to high, and beat until stiff peaks form. The finished meringue should have a smooth, shiny appearance.

4. Sift the almond flour mixture over the egg whites and fold together with a rubber spatula until just mixed. At this point you may add a drop or two of food coloring to tint the batter. Continue to fold the mixture until it has loosened considerably and falls in a ribbon from the spatula.

5. Transfer the batter to the pastry bag.

6. Pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds approximately 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. As you pipe, drag the pastry tip to the side of the rounds to avoid forming peaks. The piped rounds will spread slightly.

7. Tap the bottom of each sheet on the work surface to release trapped air bubbles.

8. Let stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes to dry. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

9. Just before putting the pans in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the macaron are puffed and have formed the frill, or foot, around the bottom edge of the cookie. The feet may may deflate slightly after the pan is removed from the oven–this is normal and should be expected.

10. Let the macaron shells cool completely on the baking sheets. Carefully peel them away from the parchment paper.

11. Select two same-size macaron shells to sandwich together with 1 teaspoon filling.

Tips

  • If you don’t have time to let your egg whites come to room temperature, you can place them in a microwavable bowl and heat them in microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. Microwaves vary in strength, so be extra careful to not cook the egg whites.
  • Macaron shells can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw completely at room temperature before filling.
  • Use insulated baking pans (such as T-Fal Air-Bake) or use an additional cookie sheet under the pan of piped macarons to ensure the shells do not over-bake.

Sweetapolita’s Macaron Notes:

  • For the macarons, you can grind your own almond flour using raw almonds in the food processor until very fine. It’s also a bit more affordable, as almond flour is $$$.
  • To colour my macarons, I added the gel colour into the meringue, before the flour mixture was added, so I could play around with adding more drops without risking over-mixing my batter. Once I was happy with the colour, I went ahead with adding the almond flour mixture.
  • Macarons, as you’ve probably heard, are a bit unpredictable, even for the most experienced macaron-makers, so don’t give up. I’ve made many batches prior to using Heather’s recipe/method and had many failures, but they’re just too darn amazing to not make, so I kept trying. You’ll notice not all of mine are perfect (far from), but I was very happy with how they turned out in the end.
  • You can fill macarons with pretty much anything you can dream of–ready-made or not, such as jams, buttercream, curd, ganache, frosting, Nutella, etc. You really can’t go wrong!
  • Filling macarons is the perfect solution to small amounts of leftover fillings and frosting from cake and cupcakes projects–you can freeze most in small containers, and thaw when needed.
  • I found the filled macarons increased in awesomeness after sitting in an airtight container in refrigerator for at least a day.
  • Because the topic of macarons is pretty extensive (including troubleshooting, technique variations, etc.), I will be doing more macaron-specific posts along the way. For some amazing information fueled by complete macaron passion, check out Mardi’s blog–it’s filled with macaron posts, troubleshooting, etc.!

Assembly of the Lemon-Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake

1. Trim any doming or top crust and side crust from cake layers using a very sharp serrated knife (I use the Mac Bread Knife for all of my cake trimming, splitting, etc.).

2. Use a cake turntable for filling, frosting and decorating, if a possible. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 6″ round thin foil-covered cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top, top side up (face up).

3. Pipe a dam (a rim around the top perimeter of the cake layer) of buttercream around the cake layer using a large round Pastry Tip
fitted inside a Decorating Bag. Then pipe another smaller circle of buttercream a few inches toward the center. Spoon lemon curd into the open spaces and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife, taking care to keep the curd within the dam (otherwise it will ooze out of the sides of the cake). Gently place 5 macaron shells atop the filling. Place the 2nd cake layer, face down, on top.

4. Tint remaining buttercream teal green, and put a generous scoop of teal buttercream on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake (crumb-coat). Chill until set, about 30 minutes.

5. Remove from refrigerator and repeat step 4, but this time using a thicker layer of buttercream and creating a smooth finish. (You can watch me do this on video here).

6. For the top of the cake, place an open star decorating tip (I used 1M) in a Decorating Bag filled with about 1 cup of the buttercream, and pipe 8 small swirls, evenly spaced. Top each swirl with macarons in alternating colours (or your choice), and finish with sugar pearls (if desired).

Store finished cake covered in refrigerator (due to the Lemon Curd filling), but serve at room temperature (you can remove from refrigerator a few hours ahead of serving).

Sweetapolita’s Notes

  • Because Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Lemon Curd both take a little longer to make than some other fillings/frosting, I recommend making both ahead of time, if possible. They freeze well, and the buttercream can be simply brought to room temperature the night before you need it. The curd can basically be used straight from the freezer. If you go ahead and make all of the components in one day, there’s a good chance you will be cursing my name at random throughout the day. But even if you do go this route, it will still be worth it.
  • I also recommend making and filling the macarons about 2 days ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator in an airtight container–they really do taste better after sitting!
  • You can bake the cake layers the day before you need them, and keep them at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
  • I baked two 6-inch round cakes (1 for photographing and 1 for gifting), but you can divide the cake and filling quantities in half if you want to create a single 6-inch cake (serves 8).

I hope you find as much joy in making, sharing and enjoying macarons (and macaron cakes) as I did. Stay tuned for more macaron love! ♥

Good luck & enjoy!



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La La Lavender & Lemon Cloud Cupcakes

Lavender & Lemon Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Today’s Weather Forecast: A sweet mix of sunshine and clouds. Probability of celebration is 100%.

Did I mention that I have a bit of a thing for clouds these days? Yummy ones, that is (you may remember these cloudy sweets). Maybe it’s a subconscious need to escape the everyday, or to float above reality to la la land for awhile, but every time I bake (it’s been known to happen) clouds are on my mind. A little while back I woke up with an undying need for something lavender & lemon, which has also been known to happen, so I made some Lavender & Lemon Shortbread cookies — these little things are so delightful. I love the kind of shortbread that just melts in your mouth with all of its buttery goodness, and the recipe I use is one I’ve adapted from Joy of Baking–it never disappoints. I cut little L&L clouds and felt that they were just too cute to be gobbled up and long forgotten. So I decided to create some cupcakes to perch them upon, to celebrate the awesomeness that is Lavender & Lemon even further.

Lavender & Lemon Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

And it’s to not say that these cupcakes need to be cloudy, because are pretty special all on their own–the cupcakes themselves are light, tender, citrusy Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes, topped with tangy homemade Lemon Curd and topped with Whipped Lavender Frosting. If you’ve never baked with culinary lavender before, you’re in for a real treat–the lovely flavour of the lavender doesn’t come across floral, but rather compliments the sweet vanilla and lemon flavours like a dream (you just don’t want to overdo it by adding too much — less is more).

I also thought it would be neat to make my own cupcake wrappers for these, because I wanted something pastel and lavender with a cloud-like scalloped edge. I found a scrapbook paper that I loved and went ahead and cut out some wrappers — this is so easy! For the template, you can check out this simple post from Skip To My Lou. I snipped the tops with the “cloud” style (I didn’t make that up) scallop scissors from the craft shop and secured the backside with a glue stick. Once you learn this simple trick of making your own wrappers, the possibilities are literally endless. Sometimes the liners that we bake the cupcakes in look so cute and, unless they’re really thick, they absorb a lot of the grease of the cupcakes and a lot of the colour is lost. I can see making these little wrappers becoming a wee bit addictive!

I think these cupcakes would make the cutest and yummiest addition to any spring or summer party, shower, dessert table, picnic, birthday or, of course, a lovely Mother’s Day treat. I just adore this flavour combination, and it’s always fun to watch someone’s face light up when you tell them that they just ate lavender–suddenly they feel pretty fancy. It’s hard to not smile when you take a bite of summer.

Even if you stopped at making the Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Clouds, well I’d be okay with that too. They are such a tasty little treat and look pretty darling alongside a cup of tea. With only a handful of ingredients, they’re also pretty quick and easy to make. To make this cutter, I used a simple small flower cookie cutter and gently squished it into a cloud shape — it works!

Lavender & Lemon Shortbread via Sweetapolita

Or you can always whip up some Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Unicorns and call it a day — the world will forgive you. (For those who will want to know more about this fancy cutter in particular, it’s made by Tovolo — I just don’t see it on their website anymore. Sorry!)

Or you can do as I do, and make the L&L Shortbread Unicorns, eat and share most of them before you can actually photograph and blog about it, then make another batch of the shortbread, turn them into clouds, make the following recipes, stack it all up and watch them beam . . .

Lavender & Lemon Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Escape to La La Lavender & Lemon land . . .

La La Lavender & Lemon Cloud Cupcakes

Yield: 18 standard cupcakes

Moist, fluffy lemon buttermilk cupcakes topped with zingy lemon curd, whipped lavender frosting and topped with lavender sugar cookie clouds.

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (8 oz) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (230 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon (8 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2 g) salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) (115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Finely grated lemon zest (rind) of two medium-large lemons
  • For the Frosting:
  • 3 sticks (340 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3.5 cups (400 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) whipping cream (35% cream), or whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried Culinary Lavender
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two standard muffin pans with your favourite baking liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the eggs, 1/4 cup of buttermilk, and vanilla. Set aside.Sift the cake flour 3 times.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of buttermilk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest.
  6. Divide the batter into your prepared liners, no more than 2/3 full.
  7. Bake until a toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center of the cupcake (~15 minutes). Be so careful to not over-bake. Place hot baking pans on wire racks, then carefully (they’re hot!) remove the cupcakes from the baking pans immediately to let cool. Let cool completely before frosting.
  8. For the Frosting:
  9. In a small bowl or glass, stir the dried lavender into the whipping cream (or milk); cover with plastic wrap overnight (or for at least several hours).
  10. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  11. Strain the lavender cream and add to butter, along with all remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  12. Add a few drops of Violet gel colour (I used Grape Violet by Sugarflair and a drop of Americolor Electric Purple ) and mix until blended.
  13. Assembly of the La La Lavender & Lemon Cloud Cupcakes:
  14. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon curd on top of each cupcake and gently spread (be careful to not put more than this, or it will ooze).
  15. Fill a small pastry bag fitted with pastry tip of your choice (I used a plain large round tip) about 1/2 full with frosting and pipe a generous swirl on top of the lemon curd.
  16. Top with a Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Cloud. Finish with a scalloped cupcake wrapper or design of your choice
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[cupcake batter recipe adapted from Canadian Living]

Here is the recipe for the Lemon Curd.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Yield: 20 small-medium cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) (227 g) good quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar/icing sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) good quality pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried culinary lavender
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated lemon zest (rind)
  • 1-1/2 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) cornstarch (corn flour)
  • 1/4 (2 g) teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed (I use #4 on my KitchenAid mixer) the butter until it is smooth and very creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract, then stir in the dried lavender and lemon zest.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until they are incorporated. Make a ball of the dough and seal in plastic wrap. Once in the wrap, flatten the dough into a disk and chill for one hour (at least--can be longer).
  4. When you're ready to roll and cut the cookie dough, preheat oven to 350°F and place the oven rack in the middle position. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or two baking mats.
  5. Roll the dough 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of parchment paper. Cut desired shapes, place on baking sheets and chill in the refrigerator or freezer for about 15 minutes.
  6. Bake until very light golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets on wire racks.

Notes

Cookies will keep in an airtight container for about 1 week, or can be frozen.

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[cookie recipe adapted from Joy of Baking]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:
  • Some of the items I used to make these cupcakes are Stainless Steel Scoop for measuring perfectly-even cupcakes, Culinary Lavender, and Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract).
  • To get frosting super smooth (no air bubbles), use a silicone spatula and in an aggressive side-to-side motion, pushing the frosting back and forth against the sides of the bowl (you will hear a sort of paddling sound). Do this every so often while you use the frosting–it keeps it super smooth. You can also add a few drops (just a few!) of water for ideal spreading/piping.
  • Just a note about purple–all purple gel colours will yield a very different colour by nature, for example, Americolor Violet is much more blue than purple (when compared), and Americolor Electric Purple is more magenta than blue. Those differences in addition to the fact that you’re adding it to an ivory base (this butter frosting), can really alter the look of the finished cupcake, so you’ll want to play around with small frosting samples in bowls before tinting the entire batch. (I ended up making the frosting all over again to achieve the shade I liked best). Just be careful not to go too far with these concentrated colours, because it can get too intense quickly.
  • You can find a wonderful cupcake wrapper template at Skip To My Lou.

Good luck & enjoy!



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