Monday, 17 October 2011

Guilty pleasures

I've had a cook's blowtorch lurking at the back of my cupboard since my last birthday. Every now and then I feel a pang of remorse as I remember that I should really have tried using it a long, long time ago. What a bad person I must be to have ignored it for so long. Tut.

Well this week I made amends, and in glorious Italian style! These little beauties were dreamt up purely as an excuse to try out my new(ish) toy, and although it does take some practice to get the hang of directing the flame, it is deeply satisfying to produce a rich, burnished finish on the meringue. And as a wonderful by-product, the kitchen smells like honeycomb.

For any newbies to Italian meringue, it involves all the same ingredients as a French meringue, but the sugar is made into a hot syrup which cooks the egg whites without the need to bake it. Magic.

Makes a dozen cakes

~for the lemon cakes:
150g soft butter
150g caster sugar
175g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
3 medium eggs
1 lemon, rind removed with a peeler and flesh juiced
4 tbsp milk
6 tbsp lemon curd

~for the Italian meringue:
120g egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
210g caster sugar
a small pinch of cream of tartar
75ml water
a sugar thermometer
a culinary blowtorch (optional)

1) First makes the cakes by creaming the butter and sugar together with a hand whisk, until light and creamy. Whisk in the eggs one by one, stir in the milk, and stir in the sifted flour and baking powder. 

2) Chop the lemon rind very finely and add to the mixture with the lemon juice, stirring in well.  Divide between 12 cupcakes cases, and bake at 350f/180c/gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes, checking to see if a toothpick comes out clean after 20 minutes.  Leave to cool, then scoop out a heaped teaspoon from the top of each cake, and fill with half a tablespoon of the lemon curd.

3) To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then set aside for a moment. Stir the sugar into the water to dissolve, then heat in a small saucepan until it reaches soft ball stage (120c). Now pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin, constant stream, whisking the eggs whites at the same time.  It's helpful to have someone else to pour in the syrup while you whisk.  Keep whisking until all of the syrup is incorporated, then whisk for a further two minutes. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag with a wide, round nozzle, and pipe onto the cakes. Use a blowtorch to lightly brown the meringue, carefully avoiding the paper cases.


  1. Lovely post and I can’t wait to try the recipe!

  2. Thanks for the comment - let me know how it goes! x Irv.

  3. sounds so yummy i love lemon merangue pie and Im guessing I would love this even more !

  4. you piped the meringue beautifully, I had a go and it looked a bit more blobby. Still tasted delicious though. Thanks for the recipe x

  5. Thanks! It does take some practice, you could try having a test on a plate before you go near the cakes if you're nervous x


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