Sometimes you just want something that extra bit special, whether it’s for a birthday, a celebration, or just because you fancy treating yourself. Well I present to you a glorious lemon-meringue sponge cake as the ideal offering in times of need. I won’t lie – this recipe has a few components and takes a little bit of time and care, but it’s so worth it. The classic flavour combination sees zesty lemon curd meet sweet crunchy meringue, surrounded by everybody’s favourite – a light, fluffy sponge cake.
Chickpea water (Aquafaba) from 1 400g can of chickpeas (around 170ml)
½ teaspoon of cream of tartare
340g of icing sugar
Okay, so this recipe is ALL about the whisking and it requires a bit of patience. If you’ve got one, I would recommend using a stand alone mixer with a whisk attachment – but it will work just as well with a hand held whisk (you’ll just be standing around holding it for quite some time).
So, pour your chickpea water into your mixer or bowl and whisk, whisk, whisk. Don’t stop whisking until it’s super light and fluffy and can hold stiff peaks. Be patient.
Add in your cream of tartare and whisk some more!
Add in your icing sugar a spoonful or two at a time and keep whisking (you can do it!)
Fill a clean piping bag with your fluffy mixture and snip of the end so that you can squeeze out cute little meringue shaped blobs onto a lined baking tray.
Pop in an oven at around 80 degrees and leave for an hour and a half. Your meringues should be crisp and coming away from the paper with ease. If not, leave them in the warm oven a while longer. Turn the oven off, but leave the meringues in to further dry out for another hour or so.
250 ml lemon juice
250g caster sugar
55g corn flour
grated zest of one lemon
pinch of salt
150ml soya cream
20g vegan butter
Pour your lemon juice, water and caster sugar into a small pan and mix together.
Weigh out the corn flour in a bowl and add a small amount of the lemon mixture a spoonful at a time, stirring to make a paste.
Add the paste and the lemon zest to the pan and stir through.
Pop your mixture on the hob and bring to the boil. Boil for around a minute – the mixture should turn thick and glossy.
Take your mixture off the heat and stir through the cream and butter. Leave to cool, pop in a container and refrigerate until needed.
1000g self raising flour
600g caster sugar
5tsp baking powder
Grated zest of 2-3 lemons
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line 2 deep 8-inch cake tins.
Weigh out the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl.
Pour in your soy milk and oil and mix until everything is combined.
Pour the cake batter into the two tins, splitting the mixture as evenly as you can.
Tap your tins on the work surface before you put them in the oven to pop any bubbles.
Bake for an hour and ten minutes, check your cakes with a skewer – if it comes out clean they are ready to take out, if it’s sticky, leave them in a while longer.
Once they’re out of the oven, leave them to cool a little in the tins before transferring to a wire rack.
Make sure your sponges are cooled all the way through before attempting to assemble your cake. If you have time, wrap them in cling film and leave them to rest overnight.
500g vegan butter (refrigerated)
1200g icing sugar
splash of plant milk
Beat the butter with an electric whisk to soften.
Add in a third of your icing sugar, a splash of milk, and continue to whisk (be careful you don’t cover your kitchen in sugar!).
Add in the next 500g of icing sugar and beat. And the last 500g. You want the frosting to be quite firm in order to support your cake, but if you feel it is too firm you can add a splash more milk (don’t overdo it!), if it’s too soft, add a little more icing sugar.
Fold through a few tablespoons of lemon curd to taste to give your frosting a delicious lemony tang without making it too soft.
Chill in the fridge until needed.
Now we’re onto the exciting bit – putting the cake together!
Trim the top and bottom off of each sponge cake in order to get rid of any crust and create a nice flat surface of cake. Slice each sponge cake widthways through the centre so that you have four even rounds of cake.
Smear a little frosting on a cake board and pop down your first cake round, layer it up with a thin coating of lemon curd, smooth on some lemon frosting and sprinkle on some crunched up meringues. Pop your next layer of cake on top and repeat. Repeat one more time and place the final layer of cake on the top, cover in cling film and allow to sit in the fridge or freezer to stabilise.
Once you feel your cake is firm enough, you can cover the top of it with more frosting and press a cake board, silver side down, on top. Make sure your top and bottom cake boards align. Smooth frosting around the sides of your cake, you’ll have some crusts peeking through to create a beautiful semi-naked effect. Chill again to firm up.
Run a knife carefully around the cake board “lid” to pop it off. Some frosting may come away with the lid – just smooth some fresh frosting over the top. Adorn with piles of meringues – as neat or messy as you desire! Drizzle some of the lemon curd in between the meringues and allow to run down the edges.
Voila! A cruelty-free cakey masterpiece. Get stuck in.