This is a belated and accidental Halloween dessert success. Belated in that I didn’t get it up on the blog quickly enough ad accidental because I was making a simple lemon cake and it transformed along the way!
I started by making a simple lemon cake and some meringue pieces but before I could fill the cake with some simple lemon curd and buttercream the plan changed and it was going to be dessert for Sunday lunch instead of the planned Saturday afternoon cake with a cup of tea.
I decided to go all out and blend it with a Limoncello Tiramisu idea I’ve been thinking about trying since our trip to Italy in the summer. Blackberries were added as a way to make it more Autumn, add some colour and break up the lemon flavour. I made this up as I went along, but it came out tasting great! Here’s my recipe if you want to recreate this happy mish mash of flavours!
Makes one large dessert to feed 12.
Time needed: 2 hours
For the meringue kisses:
- 1 egg white
- 50g caster sugar
- 2 drops lemon extract
For the cake:
- 225g soft unsalted butter or baking margarine
- 225g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 225g self-raising flour
- zest of one lemon
- 1/8 tsp lemon extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the mascarpone cream:
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 100ml double cream
- 2 eggs (separated)
- 2 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2-3 tbsp limoncello
To fill the cake:
- 2 small punnets blackberries
- 1/2 jar good quality lemon curd
- Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make your meringue kisses by whisking one egg which to stiff peaks ( I use an electric hand whisk). Slowly add your 50g caster sugar until fully combined and glossy. Add a couple of drops of lemon extract (be sparing or it’s overpowering). Put your meringue into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe lots of small kisses. Put into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 110°C. Bake for at least an hour until the meringues easily come off the paper. Leave to cool in the oven. This is easy to do ahead of time a couple of days before as the meringues will keep well in an airtight container.
- Make your sponge cake. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and lemon extract and beat well. Beat the eggs in a small jug with the vanilla extract and get your flour ready.
- Add 1/3 of the flour to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well to combine. Add 1/2 of the beaten egg and beat well. Repeat: another 1/3 of the flour, beat, 1/2 egg, beat, 1/3 flour, beat.
- Divide the batter between two lined and greased 20cm sandwich tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack.
- Make your mascarpone cream. In one bowl whisk your egg whites to soft peaks and add then whisk in 1/2 tbsp caster sugar. In a second bowl whisk the cream and limoncello together to soft peaks. In a third bowl whisk the mascarpone with the egg yolks until well combined then add 2 tbsp sugar and whisk for 3 minutes. Add the egg white mixture and the cream to the mascarpone mixture and fold carefully to combine.
- Assemble the cake. Once completely cooled, use a cake leveller to cut both the sponge cakes in half to make 4 thin layers of cake. Choose 12 of the best meringue kisses and set aside for the top. Crush the remaining ones into large pieces. Get the lemon curd and blackberries ready. Choose the best ‘top’ cake layer to be the top of the cake and set aside.
- On your presentation plate, place a layer of cake. Add 1/3 of the mascarpone cream filling and spread to the edges. Add a generous dollop of lemon curd and spread this out carefully to make a thin layer of lemon curd on top of the cream. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the crushed meringue and 1/3 of the blackberries. Repeat with the next two layers (leaving a large spoonful of the mascarpone cream back) then add the top layer of cake you set aside.
- Get your best 12 meringue kisses and using the remaining cream put a small amount on the bottom of each meringue and place them around the top of the cake. A light dusting of icing sugar finishes it off perfectly.