I was asked to bring a "county fair-like cake that displayed well". And I thought it might be even better if the cake tasted great and this cake does. It's similar to a pound cake so don't be alarmed by the weight of it; it's supposed to be heavy. The buttermilk makes for a tender moist crumb and the coconut cream is subtle. And I can't even begin to describe how amazingly good the lemon filling is. It's my favorite part of the cake.
The tart lemon curd is a nice contrast to the sweet icing. The shredded coconut adds a nice textural element. This cake is one of our favorites and was my contribution to the cake table. I altered the batter recipe from Foster's Market Cookbook. The rest of the cake is a "play" on a lemon meringue pie. And as always, you'll want to adjust the cake for your individual altitude (it's easy; I always adjust for my high altitude), as this recipe is written for sea level.
I made 8-inch cakes instead of the 9-inch cakes as per the recipe so I had extra batter and made a small loaf cake as well. I cut the loaf into two halves and sliced those into 2 layers. If you freeze the layers for 1 hour before cutting they won't crumble and break; it will make the slicing so much easier. One recipe of batter made two miniature two-layer cakes and one 8-inch four-layer cake.
Lemon Meringue Cake
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoons of baking soda
½ teaspoon of salt
12 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cup of granulated sugar
6 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups of buttermilk
¼ cup of *canned coconut cream (such as Coco Lopez)
1 cup of Lemon Curd (recipe follows)
1 cup of sweetened flaked coconut to garnish the sides of the cake
1 recipe of Seven-Minute Frosting (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and stir to mix. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in a separate bowl with an electric mixer. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and stir by hand to mix well. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and coconut cream. Stir just until all the dry ingredients are moist and blended. Do not over mix.
With an electric mixer whip the egg whites in a separate bowl for 2-3 minutes, until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake 40 - 45 minutes until the cakes are golden brown and no crumbs stick to a test wooden skewer or pick after you insert one into the middle of the cakes.. Cool the cakes 10 – 15 minutes and remove from the pans. Cool and slice each layer in two.
Place the first layer onto a serving plate and spread with 1/3 of the lemon curd. Repeat with the remaining three layers. Spread the Frosting on the top and sides. Carefully press the shredded coconut on the sides of the cake. I like to torch the top of the meringue as well, but you don't need to. It's still pretty.
*Canned coconut cream is often found in the market aisle with the drink mixers or possibly in the Latin section of your supermarket.
Bonnie’s Pucker-Up Lemon Curd:
2 cups of granulated sugar
12 large egg yolks
1 cup of lemon juice
2 Tablespoons of lemon zest, yellow part only4 ounces (1 stick or ½ cup) of butter, cut into pieces
½ tsp. of pure vanilla extract
Wash and zest the lemons. Juice them. In a heavy-bottomed, non-aluminum pan mix the egg yolks with the granulated sugar. Whisk in the lemon juice. Cook the mixture on medium-low heat until it coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter cubes. Strain. Add the lemon zest and mix well. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
This curd can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or frozen for 3 months. The texture will be slightly softer after defrosting.
2 large egg whites
1 ½ cups of granulated sugar
¼ cup of cold water
1 Tablespoon of Light Corn Syrup (Karo)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Combine the egg whites, sugar, water, and corn syrup in a double boiler set over simmering water over low heat. Beat with a hand-held electric mixer 3 - 4 minutes
on low speed. Increase speed to high and mix 3 - 4 minutes longer, until icing is shiny and forms soft peaks.
Remove from heat, add the vanilla, and beat on high until the mixture becomes thick.
This cake is best served the day it is made as the icing will form a "crust" the next day but the cake is still fabulous. I've never had anyone turn down a day-old piece.
*Cook's Note: If you decorate your cake with flowers/herbs, make sure that they they are impeccably clean and have not been treated with any kind of pesticide, even if they are not intended to be eaten.