Saturday, 17 April 2010

The genius of Nana.

Today Nana is going to someone else's house for a party, I am staying at home. My grandparents have a more active social life than I do. I would be thoroughly depressed by this were it not for the fact that I got to watch her make this beautiful lemon meringue cake. Note her mastery of the meringue form, unlike my sad attempts. She's so clever!

Were I to attempt this recipe I would undoubtedly cock it up, but Nana is no amateur and she always gets results. Jimdad says that she's only ever cooked one thing that he didn't like, and it was meatloaf. I think we can forgive her that...

I've just realised that since I'm not going to the party, I won't get any cake. Suddenly I feel duped for accepting the simple joy of watching my Nana make a cake, when I should have been demanding a slice. I didn't even get to lick the bowl. Sigh.

3 unwaxed lemons
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
250g self-rasing flour, sifted
6 tbsp milk

2 medium egg whites
100g caster sugar

250g tub mascarpone
2 tbsp sifted icing sugar
half a 450g jar of lemon curd (Nana made her own, because she is legendary)

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 21/2. Line the bases of 2x20cm sandwich tins about 5cm deep with nonstick paper. Grate the zezt from the lemons and put in a bowl with the other cake ingredients. Beat together with an electric hand whisk for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Spoon into the tins and level the tops.

Whisk together the egg whites until stiff, then gradually whisk in the sugar until the meringue is stiff. Spoon half the meringue over each cake and spread to within 2cm of the edges. Swirl the meringue with the tip of a knife.

Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes until the meringue is crisp and golden and the cake is firm. Test by inserting a fine skewer through the meringue - if just a few crumbs stick tot he skewer, the cake is ready.

Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then invert each cake onto a folded tea towel and then invert again onto a wire rack, so that the meringue is uppermost. Leave to cool completely. The cakes will keep for up to two days in a tin at this stage.

Beat together the mascarpone and sugar and swirl the lemon curd through. Set one cake on a serving plate and spread with the filling. Top with the other cake and dust with icing sugar. Nana added some raspberries to the centre and top, more for decoration than anything else I think.

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