Ten Layer Lemon Meringue Cake

Let me get something off my chest; I have a problem with layer cakes that are 3 inches of cake for every 1/4″ of icing.  My ideal is {in equal measure} cake, icing, cake, icing ..and so on and so forth until you run out of both.   I want layers upon layers that are none too dry or too sweet.  It makes it difficult to have perfect sides, and 30 second videos of the perfect spin and frost technique.  But it tastes good.  Perfect is fine, but delicious is divine.

I first put together this cake for a dear friend’s 80th birthday almost a decade ago.  It has become a family favorite.  It is perfect all year ’round, but I like to make it when lemons are at their seasonal best.

Lemon Meringue Cake

Cake Layer
{from Nick Maglieri}

3 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
18 Tbs unsalted butter–softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
9 lg egg whites
1 1/8 cups milk

reheat oven to 350.  Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  In a mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until very soft and light.  Whisk together the milk, egg whites and vanilla until just combined.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately beat in the flour and milk in 4 batches; starting and ending with flour. In order to not over-mix, do not fully incorporate each addition before adding the next one.  Scrape down the sides in between each addition.

I bake this off in thin layers, making it easier to stack when putting the cake together.  You can make 2 layers and slice into thin layers, if you prefer…but I like taking the time to bake off thin layers that make assembly a bit more fuss free.

This will make 6-7 thin cake layers.  Each layer should be less than 1/2″ thick–i use approximately 3/4 cup batter for each layer.

Spray 9″ cake tins with pan spray and place a circle of parchment in the bottom.  If you only have 2 pans, you will have to wash in  between bakins.  Bake each layer approximately 10 minutes, but carefully watch, as the layers are so thin, they will brown easily.  Once you pull the pan from the oven, wait a few minutes, then turn out onto parchment.  Wash and dry the tins, then start the process again.  Let the layers cool completely. {can be made a day ahead and stored at room temperature, or well ahead and frozen}

Lemon Curd

grated zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/4 cup sugar
12 Tbs unsalted butter–cut into small pieces
12 large egg yolks
Whisk the yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl.  Place bowl over bain-marie and cook, stirring continually until the liquid thickens to a nappe {coats the back of the spoon and retains shape when you swipe your finger down the middle}.  Do not let it boil, as the eggs will scramble.  Remove from heat and pour through a sieve into a clean bowl.  Toss in the butter while the curd is still hot.  Stir until the butter is fully incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap placed directly on top of the curd.  Refrigerate until cool and set.  {Can be made a day in advance}

Lemon Italian Buttercream Icing
{if you have a favorite icing, use it and add the lemon curd and whip until creamy}

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
4 egg whites–room temperature
2 cups unsalted butter–room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
about 1/2 cup lemon curd {this is to taste, it depends on how lemony you want your buttercream}

Place egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Combine 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar with water in heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Continue cooking until it reaches 235F (just before soft ball stage).

Meanwhile, while the sugar is boiling, begin whisking the egg whites.  Once, frothy, “rain” in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar.  Whip to soft peak.  When syrup reaches 235F remove from heat (it will continue to get hotter and reach the desired 240F).  With the mixer on medium speed, begin immediately pouring the hot syrup into the egg whites.  Be careful not to hit the whisk directly.  Once all the syrup is incorporated, kick the speed up to high and whisk until it cools to room temperature.
Change the attachment from whisk to paddle, and begin adding butter, a few bits at a time.  Once it is all incorporated and it looks like buttercream, mix in the vanilla and curd (to desired flavor)
-can be made several days in advance


3 large egg whites–room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

Make sure the beater and bowl are extremely clean and free of any oil or fats. Beat whites on low until foamy.  Add salt and then kick up the speed to medium.  Add cream of tartar.  Beging to slowly add the sugar “raining” it into the egg whites.  Continue to beat until soft peaks form, then add vanilla.  Beat to stiff and firm peaks.
If you over-beat, you will see moisture starting to “weep” from the whites.  If this happens, start over!
-must be used day it is made

PHEW! –now that you have all the elements, you can start building your cake

To Assemble

Place 1 cake layer on a round cake board. Pipe buttercream around the edge of the cake making a dam.  Fill with lemon curd.  This curd is quite tart, so you don’t want to over-do it.  Also, your filling should not be thicker than your cake layers.  Place another cake layer on top of the curd. Pipe a layer of buttercream.  Continue with cake, buttercream dam & curd, cake, buttercream, cake….until you run out of cake layers.  the top layer should be cake.  Refrigerate until cold and firm.  You can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 house.  When ready to finish and serve, cover in meringue (i have piped swirls), and hit with a torch to brown the edges.  I do not recommend using the oven as the buttercream and curd will melt quickly.

Gingerbread Bundt with Espresso Glaze

I disagree that enjoying gingerbread is a cold weather affair. Case in point; this cake. Not only rich and delicious, it is a great way to use up that lingering bottle of guiness a month past St. Paddy’s day.

{this recipe comes from Gramercy Tavern…and developed by Claudia Fleming. I have made this recipe and the recipe in her book “The Last Course”. I prefer this one. I have made a couple very minor adjustments to the recipe, which I will announce so you may or may not choose to do the same}

Gingerbread Bundt
{Gramercy Tavern}

1 cup oatmeal or guiness stout
1 cup dark (not blackstrap) molasses
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbs ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
pinch ground cardamom
generous pinch kosher salt {my addition–optional}
3 large eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs Trablit coffee extract *or 1 Tbs espresso powder {my addition-optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Use shortening to grease pan (trust me on this…pan spray will not work, butter works better, but shortening works the best) and then dust with flour. Set aside.
Boil stout (or other beer if using) with molasses. Take off heat and then whisk in baking soda. The mixture will bubble up, so make sure your pan has plenty of room, so the mixture does not overflow. Allow to cool to room temperature. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt (if using), ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom {if using espresso powder, sift with flour. If using coffee extract, whisk in with eggs and sugar} Whisk together eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until completely incorporated. Whisk in oil and then molasses mixture. Add flour in single addition and whisk until it is just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan on rack for about 5 minutes, then turn onto rack, and allow to cool completely.

Espresso Buttermilk Glaze
{this is entirely my addition and is optional}
1 lb confectioner’s sugar
1 oz strong espresso
1 Tbs Trablit coffee extract or 1 Tbs espresso powder

Place the confectioner’s sugar in a bowl. Mix the trablit or espresso powder into the espresso. Pour the espresso bit by bit careful not to thin out the confectioner’s sugar too much. If the confectioner’s sugar is still too thick to pour, add buttermilk until you get a pouring consistency. NOTE: this uses such a small amount of buttermilk, if you don’t have it on hand, you can easily substitute cream, half and half or milk.
Generously pour over cooled cake and allow to harden.

*Trablit is a very strong and specific coffee extract. It cannot be substituted with clear extract or candy oil. If you can’t find it (or it is cost prohibitive) please use espresso powder.


This is our new greenhouse dressed for a luncheon we are hosting tomorrow. We are still laying the stone, and have yet to lay sod,but i love it so much!

Haggis Reimagined

Across the pond and north a bit, January 25th is a big deal.
It is Burn’s Night.
It is a night, in deference to a favored Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
Revelry is compulsory.
And so is haggis.
Words are read, songs are sung and haggis is served.
On this side of the world, prepared haggis is difficult to find.
So, this year I set out to make my own version.
Although true to the spirit, its authenticity can be called to question.
It is not for the weak of stomach nor those with a flair for the dramatic.
My version is haggis-lite; using more readily available ingredients and served in a less traditional fashion.
To learn more about Burn’s Night Supper click here


to prepare sheep heart
1 sheep heart (about 1 lb)
3 pearl onions
6 whole cloves
10 peppercorns
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
a 1/2″ piece of lemon peel–pith removed
Thouroughly clean the sheep heart under cool running water. Soak in milk (to cover) for about 4 hours or overnight. Remove from milk and rinse once again. Place in stockpot. Stud the pearl onions with whole cloves and place along with peppercorns, bay leaf and lemon peel in the stock pot. Add enough cool water to cover. Simmer over low heat for 3-4 hours or until the heart is very tender. Remove and let cool, then finely chop the heart. Reserve broth

for the haggis
1/2 cup suet
1 cup onion–finely chopped
1 cup carrot–finely chopped
1/3 cup shallot–finely minced
1 clove garlic–finely minced
1/4 cup scotch
1 cup (approx) broth from heart
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup oats–toasted and ground in mortar and pestle or blender
1 cup suet

Heat 1/2 cup suet over medium heat in large skillet. Add onion, carrot, shallot and garlic. Cook slowly until the vegetables are very soft. Stir in the chopped heart and let cook about 3 minutes. add thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg. pour in the scotch and allow to reduce down (be careful it may flame up) Add 1 cup of broth and stir until all the bits are scraped up from the bottom. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Add oats and suet and form into 3 cylinders about 2″ in diameter. Wrap each cylinder in plastic wrap securely and refrigerate overnight (or freeze for later use).

it is traditional to stuff into a sheep’s stomach and boil directly, however unable to obtain a sheep’s stomach, i opted for the more pedestrian approach. you can certainly “mock” the stomach by making a very large ball with the mixture. you may also stuff into sausage casing if you have on hand

to prepare haggis to serve
keep the haggis wrapped in the plastic wrap, while wrapping in a layer of foil. you may also put in a ziploc bag. place in a pot of boiling water and allow to cook for 30-45 minutes (if using cylindrical method….one large portion will take about 3 hours).

remove from water, unwrap and serve while hot. you may also refrigerate until cool, then slice and fry in a bit of oil for a nice treat.

Scottish Kilt Placemats

I‘m planning a Burn’s Night’s supper. It happens on January 25th and is a night of literature, revelry and haggis. I thought it might be fun to have place settings that match the theme. Plaid and kilts seem very Scottish to me.

these are time consuming, but easy for anyone with basic sewing skills. if you have any questions about the tutorial or method, please leave me a comment and i will get back to you in a jiffy
Click here for Tutorial

Carrot Cake

I really like carrots. I like them raw dipped in a bit of sea salt, honey roasted with onion dip, and deep fat fried loaded into a feedbag. All good. But, best of all? Baked in cake

Carrot Cake
this recipe comes from my culinary school notebook, it is not my own–except the decor..that is all me

4 large eggs–room temperature
6 oz vegetable oil
14 oz granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
9 oz flour
1 Tbs cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 lb carrots–peeled and grated
2 1/2 oz walnuts-toasted and roughly chopped
Whisk together sugar, salt, flour, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whisk together the eggs and oil until the eggs are thick and pale yellow (about 10 minutes). Mix in the dry ingredients, just to fully incorporate. Fold in carrots and walnuts. Split evenly into 2 prepared* 9″ cake pans. Bake at 325 for approximately 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Preparing cake pans includes spraying with pan spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper
allow to cool and split each cake round into 2 layers. Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting** Decorate with marzipan carrots.

Cream Cheese Frosting
i’m not opposed to sharing my cream cheese frosting recipe, but truth be told…i don’t measure
1 part unsalted butter to 2 parts cream cheese, a pinch of salt a bit of vanilla and enough powdered sugar to reach your desired sweetness. Use the paddle attachment of a mixer and beat until creamy.

Watermelon Cooler

I woke up this morning in the pink. Peonies, bubble gum, flamingos, preppy handbook PINK. This refreshing cocktail, made with vodka, although more Wonka than Warsaw will put you in the PINK too!

Watermelon Cooler
3 TBS watermelon vodka (recipe follows)
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup watermelon dice
1/2 lime
2 mint leaves
tonic water

Place watermelon, mint, sugar and lime in the bottom of a highball or old fashioned glass. Muddle until the lime has been completely juiced, the mint has begun to give off scent, yet the watermelon has not been pulverized. Add a few ice cubes and pour the watermelon vodka over. Add enough tonic water to fill the glass. Give a good stir and serve.

watermelon vodka
1 1/2 cups watermelon candies
3 cups vodka
Place the candies in the bottom of a large jar. Add the vodka. Let sit in a cool dark place for about 3 days or until the candies are dissolved (may take less time). Use as desired.