27 July 2009

Tartine's Lemon Meringue Cake

Tartine's Lemon Meringue Cake (with title)
Huh, I can't believe this is my 251st post! Thanks to all those who have tuned in.
It's already nearing the end of July, and most of my friends who sojourned to the US for residency are wrapping up their first month. I have almost no idea how they felt about it. You see, about two months ago, I decided to remove the column on Tweetdeck that updates me on people's Facebook statuses. Even though I have an (admittedly loose) policy on not comparing my life to other people's, especially not my friends', some of the updates were starting to get on my nerves.

Whether it's someone trumpeting their achievements and how life is so perfect or someone bellyaching for the lamest of reasons, I decided to call it quits. Yes, it sounds really bitter since I didn't get matched for residency last March, but to hear people who actually did get matched to fantastic hospitals under a great residency program say, "Can't I just be a bum for longer?" or "I don't want to go!!!" is terribly (though not deliberately) insulting. By all means, if the prospect of being employed in a climate where people are desperate for work is so horrible, get ready to hand over your life to someone who needs it. Vomit.

I could never ask for my life to be traded for another's. We all feel the sting of misfortune at one point or another, but to be perfectly honest after everything I've been through, I've only ever felt the mildest of pinches. While some people take their boring jobs, the houses so huge they find it inconvenient, the relationships which are just too complicated for them, the families who not only love them but can provide the thickest and fluffiest of safety nets when a tiny fraction of their lives fall apart-- all for granted, people are getting laid off, ridiculously talented and accomplished people have to endure meager salaries, and yes, there is war and hunger and oppression. Terminal illness. Loved ones lost. Loneliness and desperation. Pick a card, any card. It could all change so suddenly. While I can only hope that for all of us, the card we draw is always for the better.
Tartine's Lemon Meringue Cake (sliced)
I served this to my friends the week before I left for the States. It was quite a spectacle, making the frosting on the spot and torching it-- especially since one of the peaks ignited and I think they caught me blowing the flame out nonchalantly.

This recipe is again from one of my favorite cookbooks, Tartine. I recently reviewed it over at The Gastronomer's Bookshelf, finally!

Lemon Meringue Cake adapted from Tartine

Chiffon Cake (follow the ingredients and instructions from the Summer Fruit Bavarian Cake post.)


  • 55g (3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) heavy cream
  • 100g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 24g (1-1/2 tablespoons) water
  • small pinch salt
  • 24g (1 tablespoon) light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 22g (1-1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
In a tiny saucepan or microwave-safe cup, bring the cream to just under a boil, stirring occasionally, and set aside, making sure the cream is warm. In another small heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt, and corn syrup. Place it over low heat and boil until it is amber colored, then immediately remove from the heat and carefully add the warm cream. Allow it to settle for a moment before whisking until smooth. Transfer it to a cool bowl, stir in the lemon juice and allow to cool. Add the butter in small pieces, whisking after each addition. Allow it to cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Lemon Cream
  • 95g (6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • small pinch of salt
  • 135g (1/2 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the lemon juice, eggs, sugar, and salt (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water). Whisk them together constantly until very thick, or 80°C (180°F) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat and let it cool down until warm to touch (60°C or 140°F on a thermometer). Place the lemon cream in a blender and with the motor running, add the butter in small pieces. Allow to cool completely. (You may refrigerate it, but allow to come to cool room temperature before using.)

Lemon Syrup
  • 45g (3 tablespoons) water
  • 45g (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 45g (3 tablespoons) lemon juice
In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Transfer to a cool bowl, let cool for a bit, then chill for half an hour. Stir in the lemon juice.

Split the chiffon cake horizontally into four layers. In an 8-inch cake ring, place a cake board under and the bottom chiffon cake layer. Brush with lemon syrup and spread with a third of the caramel using an offset spatula. Spread a third of the lemon cream over this with an offset spatula. Repeat with the next two layers, then top with the top layer of chiffon cake, then brush with more lemon syrup. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Swiss Meringue
  • 175g (about 5-1/2 large, or 3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon) egg whites
  • 245g (1-1/4 cups) sugar
  • pinch of salt
In a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt. Beat with a handheld mixer until the mixture holds stiff, glossy peaks, about 7 minutes or more.

Unmold the cake and spread the meringue all over. Use a spatula or a spoon to create dramatic swirls. Using a propane torch if available, scorch the meringue, blackening the tips and swirls.

Don't forget to check out Lisa's Tartine post in the next few days!

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