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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Benjamina Ebuehi’s recipe for lemon tarragon meringue cake | Food

This cake is a hybrid of some of my favourite desserts: pavlova, victoria sponge and lemon meringue pie. It’s a pudding that’s all about contrasting textures: a crisp, crunchy shell, meringue-like marshmallow, a soft, buttery cake and billowy cream to sandwich it all together. The tarragon imparts a lovely aniseed flavour, cutting through the sweetness and making this playful cake feel a little more grown-up.

Lemon tarragon meringue cake

Prep 30 min
Cook 1 hr
Serves 12

For the sponge
175g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
200g caster sugar
3 tbsp tarragon
, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon

4 egg yolks
175g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
40ml whole milk

For the meringue
3 large egg whites
135g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp flaked almonds

For the syrup
60g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 sprigs tarragon

For the filling
200ml double cream
1 tsp icing sugar
, plus extra for dusting
2 tbsp lemon curd

Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan)/335F/gas 3½. Grease and line two 23cm sandwich tins.

Add the sugar, tarragon and lemon zest to a large bowl. Use your fingers to rub the zest and tarragon into the sugar until fragrant. Add the butter and beat until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each one.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Pour half of this into the butter mixture, mix briefly and then stir in the milk. Mix in the rest of the flour before dividing the mixture evenly between the tins.

Put the egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time. Once all the sugar has been added, the meringue should be thick and glossy. Whisk in the cornflour.

Spoon the meringue on top of one cake, top with flaked almonds and bake both cakes for 25-30 minutes. Once the cake without meringue is baked all the way through, remove from the oven and continue to bake the meringue layer for 20 minutes, until it is lightly browned and feels crisp when touched. Leave to cool completely.

To make the syrup, heat the sugar, lemon juice and tarragon sprigs in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a minute before removing from the heat. Prick the surface of the plain cake with a skewer and spoon the syrup on top, letting it seep in.

Whip the double cream with a teaspoon of icing sugar. Spread it on the plain cake and swirl in the lemon curd. Top with the meringue cake, dust with icing sugar and slice to serve.

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