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Lemon Meringue Cake

There’s nothing like homemade desserts and this recipe takes the cake. Our Lemon meringue cake is an incredibly moist sponge cake layered with sweet and tangy lemon curd and topped off with a fluffy Italian meringue.

Tangy, zesty, and citrusy, this sponge cake with lemon curd is guaranteed to be a hit no matter where you bring it. We incorporated the flavors of a lemon meringue pie into a layer cake that is ideal for every occasion, from birthdays to anniversaries to a casual family get-together.

The sponge cake is light, airy, and fluffy. It’s not too sweet and the lemon curd adds just the right amount of tartness to balance out the sweetness. 

Lemon Meringue Cake

Fluffy Italian meringue frosting tops everything off with a velvety texture and smooth flavor. For a beautiful, finished look, we toasted the Italian meringue topping with a brûlée torch until it turned golden brown. Our Italian lemon meringue cake is simply the best. 

Sponge Cake with Lemon Curd

There are a few components to this cake but believe me when I tell you it is worth all the effort. This is the best lemony layer cake you will ever have.  

If you want to add some candied lemon slices to garnish the top then you can make the garnish several days in advance. Here are the four components to this lemon meringue layer cake. 

  • Sponge cake. We used our hot milk sponge cake for this recipe. It is an easy sponge cake that doesn’t require any technical skills. 
  • Lemon syrup. The lemon syrup gets drizzled on the sponge cake. It gives the cake an extra pop of lemony flavor and it keeps the cake exceptionally moist. For a slight switch of flavors, trade the lemon syrup for our lavender syrup.
  • Lemon curd. Our lemon curd is tart, tangy, and incredibly addictive. 
  • Italian Meringue. If you have ever made our Italian meringue buttercream, you know how fluffy and stable the meringue is before you add the butter. The meringue almost tastes like homemade marshmallows

You can make the lemon syrup and the lemon curd a few days in advance if you want to do some prep work. 

Lemon Meringue Cake

Toasted Meringue Frosting

Our Italian meringue is the perfect frosting for any cake and a tasty, low-fat alternative to traditional butter-based frostings like American buttercream. Meringue can be made with just three ingredients: egg whites, sugar, and vanilla extract. This light as air icing will make your baked goods look like they were professionally decorated! 

The thing that makes the Italian meringue so stable is the hot sugar syrup. The sugar and water get heated to 245°F before you add it to the whipped egg whites. That hot syrup cooks the eggs and makes a very stable meringue.

After we spread it on the cake, we toasted it to a beautiful golden brown by using a brûlée torch. You can skip that step if you don’t have a torch. 

Making the Lemony Cake with Meringue Frosting

This cake has several components to it but I will break it down a bit so it doesn’t look overwhelming. Here is a brief overview of how to make our lemon meringue layer cake. Please scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details. 

  1. Bake the sponge cake. 
  2. Cook the lemon curd filling and store it in the fridge.
  3. Make the lemon syrup.
  4. Make the Italian meringue. 
  5. Drizzle the sponge cake with lemon syrup.
  6. Layer the cake with lemon curd filling in between the layers. 
  7. Spread the Italian meringue on the cake.
  8. Toast the meringue frosting with a brûlée torch. 

The sponge cake is moist and flavorful by itself, however, adding the lemon syrup truly makes this a zesty, lemony slice of heaven.

Lemon Meringue Cake

Tips for Success

Plan ahead. Make the lemon curd and the syrup 3 to 5 days in advance. That will save you some time on the day you make the cake and it won’t feel so overwhelming if you have some components prepped. 

Make the frosting last. Don’t make the meringue frosting until you have everything else finished and you are ready to assemble the cake. The Italian meringue frosting is very stable but it can still lose some of its light and fluffy texture if it sits too long.

How to prevent lemon curd from curdling: When you make the lemon curd, the technique of creaming the yolks with sugar and butter will help minimize your chance of curdling.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store lemon meringue cake?

The cake is best eaten fresh at room temperature but you can store the cake in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

Can I freeze the cake?

Since the toasted meringue frosting does not freeze well, we do not recommend freezing the cake. You can, however, make the sponge cake in advance and keep it frozen for up to 3 months before assembling the cake.

Lemon Meringue Cake

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Lemon Meringue Cake

Lemon Meringue Cake

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Our Lemon meringue cake is an incredibly moist sponge cake layered with sweet and tangy lemon curd and topped off with a fluffy Italian meringue.

Ingredients

Sponge Cake

  • 5 eggs
  • 1-1/4 cup whole milk
  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups sugar (400 grams)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 grams)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 10 Large egg yolks
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar (250 grams)
  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • zest of 2 lemons

Lemon Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup lemon juice

Italian Meringue Frosting

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 5 large egg whites

Instructions

Sponge Cake

  1. Place the eggs (while still in the shell) in a bowl of warm water. This will warm them up and help them whip to a higher volume. Let them sit while you prep the cake pans and the ingredients. 
  2. Heat oven to 350°. Grease 3 eight-inch cake pans with butter and line them with parchment paper.
  3. Place the milk and butter in a saucepan and warm it over low heat until the butter melts. Keep the pan on the lowest heat setting to stay warm while you beat the eggs. 
  4. Crack the eggs in a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Beat on high speed for about 8 to 10 minutes. The eggs should triple in volume and become pale yellow in color.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add half of the flour to the egg mixture and fold in with a spatula until it is combined. Fold in the second half of the flour.
  6. Add the vanilla to the warm milk mixture and gradually pour the milk into the batter. Stir the mixture at low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula to make sure all the flour is incorporated. 
  7. Divide the batter into the cake pans.
  8. Bake for 25 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Lemon Curd Filling

  1. In a large saucepan, beat the yolks, sugar and butter with an electric mixer until blended well then add the lemon juice and salt. Cook slowly over medium-low heat stirring constantly until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should be between 192° and 195°). Be patient and do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle, the process will take 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Once thickened, pour the mixture into a strainer set over a bowl and discard any cooked egg bits that may be left in the strainer. Stir in the lemon zest, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The mixture will thicken more once chilled.

Lemon Syrup

  1. place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil then set aside to cool.

Italian Meringue Frosting

  1. Make the Italian Meringue Frosting only after the rest of the cake components are made and the cake is ready to assemble.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Allow it to cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 245° on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.
  3. With the mixer on medium speed, carefully pour the hot syrup down the side of the mixing bowl in a steady stream. Be careful to avoid getting the hot syrup on the beaters or it will fling against the side of the mixing bowl. Increase the mixer to high and whisk for 2 to 3 more minutes

Assembling the Cake

  1. Drizzle each of the sponge cakes with lemon syrup.
  2. Place one of the cakes on a cake plate then spread half of the lemon curd on the first layer of cake.
  3. Top the lemon curd layer with a second cake and spread the rest of the lemon curd on top. Place the last sponge cake on top.
  4. Spread the Italian Meringue Frosting onto the top and sides of the caked. Use the back of a spoon to create dips and mounds in the frosting.
  5. Use a brulee torch to brown and caramelize the peaks of the meringue frosting.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 538Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 404mgCarbohydrates: 90gFiber: 1gSugar: 70gProtein: 12g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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This recipe was first published on May 23, 2014.

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Hazel

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

I made this for a work baking competition and won!

(It's definitely the type of cake that you only need a tiny slice of. So sweet!!!)

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

Congratulations Hazel. That's exciting to hear. Thanks for the comment

Marie

Sunday 26th of April 2020

This was a great cake. Thanks for making my birthday special!

Dahn Boquist

Sunday 26th of April 2020

Oh Happy birthday ;) I'm glad you liked it

Cora

Friday 23rd of May 2014

I love the meringue on the outside!

Dahn

Friday 23rd of May 2014

Cora this is the Italian Meringue I showed you how to make when we were at Grandmas house :)

Kathi Kirk

Friday 23rd of May 2014

Oh man you are killing me! How am I supposed to get these next 10 pounds off if you keep posting this stuff :) This looks sooooo good! Kathi

Dahn

Friday 23rd of May 2014

Sorry Kathi but you know a girl looks good with some curves :)

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