You Are Just So Crazy, Girl


I’ve come to the conclusion that women are pretty insane. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how much life experience you have, or how mature you may appear to be, if you are of the fairer sex you are 100% certifiably mental. I realise this is quite a bold statement to make for my sex but it’s a statement I’m sticking by, because well… girls are weird.

There really is no getting around it: we obsess over every little thing; we talk ourselves in and out of situations a million times; we get mad over stuff that really shouldn’t be a big deal; we’re friends with people we don’t actually like all because we feel that we “have to”; we’re superficial (we are, the amount of make-up we wear is really pretty ridiculous); and we definitely read too much into, well, everything. I know that I do all of those things and more, there simply is no other way to put it: girls are mental.

I find myself going around in circles constantly. I have conversations with myself in my head and forget that I haven’t had them outloud, so when I come to my inevitable conclusion and make a comment to a friend they have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about. I cry/giggle/get mad by myself in public because of something I’m thinking about. My brain literally never switches off. Folks, I’m about as cuckoo as they come, and in the past week I’ve just been driving myself even more insane, all because I simply could not forget about a tiny little thing. Tiny. Miniscule. Insignificant. Invisible.

I think one of the reasons why I like to cook and write is because I can focus all of my energy down into one thing, I can throw myself into a project, no matter how laborious and time consuming, and for five, six hours, that can be all I do. I can spend an hour writing an article or a blog post; plan a photography session according to the light that will be hitting my kitchen at a precise time; touch-up my images for a half hour in Lightroom; think about what I want to cook next. When I do that I don’t have to think about anything else, I can just concentrate on my routines. Well you know where this type of behaviour also exists? In those with obsessive compulsive disorder.

In the past six months I’ve had at least five people say to me, ‘wow. You really love food, don’t you?’ And yes, yes I do. But I also love the process, the meticulous nature of it all, the creativity constricted by flavour, I love the control. I am obsessive, yes, a little bit bonkers too (well, maybe more than a little), but this is all what makes me who I am and able to do what I do. So I fully embrace it, screws loose and all!

Whilst I was driving myself crazy this week I needed something to distract, something new. I started thinking about how you could make lemon meringue pie into a cake and whether or not it would work. A quick Google search and it was not only possible, it had already been done. Rose Levy Beranbaum, of The Cake Bible, had a recipe for lemon meringue cake in her book Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. I knew I had to make it.

I kid you not when I say that this took me five hours to make: it was the perfect distraction for my crazy mind. It was also the lightest most delicious lemon cake I’ve tried – I’ll definitely be making it again the next time I find my mind tying itself in knots again. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s probably the longest recipe ever; the results are far too good and totally worth the effort. Besides, we all need to get away from our crazy from time to time – let it be this cake.

Lemon Meringue Cake
From Rose’s Heavenly Cakes

For the lemon curd:
2 tsps lemon zest, finely grated
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 oz unsalted butter, melted
Juice of 2 lemons, freshly squeezed & strained
Pinch salt

For the batter:
6 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tsps lemon zest, finely grated
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 tsps warm water
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 tsp cream of tartar

For the lemon syrup:
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup water
Juice of 2 lemons, freshly squeezed

For the Italian Meringue topping:
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup + 5 tbsps caster sugar
1/3 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
3/4 tsp cream of tartar

Special equipment:
x2 9×2″ round cake pans, oiled, floured & with baking paper circles in the base
Electric beaters
Pyrex measuring jug
Heat-proof spatula
Palette knife

1. Make the lemon curd (do this about 3 hrs ahead of time): place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl containing the lemon zest.
2. In a heavy saucepan whisk together the yolks, sugar and butter until well blended. Whisk in the lemon juice & salt.
3. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce which thickly coats the spatula but is still liquid enough to pour. Do not allow to come to the boil or curdle.
4. When thickened, pour through the strainer into the lemon zest and stir gently to combine. Allow to cool for 30 mins then cover tightly and refrigerate until no longer warm, about 3 hrs. Keeps in an airtight jar/container for 3 weeks refrigerated.
5. Make the cake: Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C.
6. Using electric beaters, beat together the yolks, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the lemon zest until thick and fluffy, or when the mixture falls in ribbons.
7. Beat in the vanilla and water on low, then increase the speed and beat until the mixture thickens again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and set aside.
8. Sift together the plain flour and cornflour, then sift over the yolk mixture without mixing in and set aside.
9. In a clean, dry medium bowl and clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar with the beaters off. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are raised.
10. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff peaks form when the beaters are raised.
11. Add 1/3 of the meringue to the yolk mixture and, with a spatula, fold it together until the flour is incorporated. Gently fold in the rest of the meringue.
12. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 mins, or until a wire cake tester comes out clean. Ready three wire cooling wracks and a palette knife, lightly coated with oil.
13. When the cakes are baked, run the palette knife between the sides of the pas and the cakes, and unmold at once onto the prepared racks. Leave the parchment in place. Reinvert the cakes onto the racks and cool completely. Wrap airtight with plastic wrap until ready to compose the cake.
14. Make the lemon syrup: in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring the sugar and water to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
15. Cover immediately, remove the pan from the heat and cool completely.
16. Transfer the syrup to a pyrex measuring jug and stir in the lemon juice. If the syrup has evaporated slightly, add enough water to equal 1 1/4 cups of syrup. Cover tightly with plastic wrap until ready to use.
17. Compose the cake: using a long serrated knife and your fingertips, remove the top crusts from the cake. Remove the parchment and scrape off any remaining bottom crust.
18. Brush the syrup evenly on the tops and bottoms of the biscuit layers. Use a cardboard round or the cooled bases of the cake tins to support them.
19. Make the Italian meringue topping: Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees C and have ready a pyrex measuring jug.
20. Pour the egg whites into a medium sized bowl.
21. In a small heavy saucepan stir together 1 cup plus 2 tbsps of the sugar, the water and 1 tbsp of the lemon juice, until the sugar is moistened.
22. Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce to low.
23. Beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. With the beaters off, add the cream of tartar. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are raised.
24. Gradually beat in the remaining 3 tbsps of sugar until stiff peaks form when the beaters are raised slowly.
25. Increase the heat under the sugar syrup and continue to boil until a candy thermometer registers 120 degrees C (firm-ball stage). Immediately transfer the syrup to the pyrex measuring jug to stop the cooking.
26. Beat the syrup into the egg whites in a soft stream. Don’t allow the syrup to fall on the beaters.
27. Lower the speed to medium and add the remaining 2 tbsps of lemon juice. Continue beating for 2 mins.
28. Compose the cake: spread a little meringue on a 9″ cardboard round or the cooled removable base of the cake tin, and place a cake layer on top.
29. Sandwich the cake layers with lemon curd. Frost the top and sides with the meringue, piling it high on top and creating peaks by pressing down lightly and then lifting up from the meringue with a spatula.
30. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 3-5 mins, turning and watching to avoid burning, or until the meringue is golden brown. Alternatively use a kitchen blowtorch to brown the meringue.
31. Serve at room temperature or lightly chilled and enjoy. You deserve it – I won’t tell anybody if you eat it all.

And so, one lemon meringue cake to keep the crazies at bay. Until next time, from one crazy girl to all of you, peace and love.

Jax x

21 Responses to “You Are Just So Crazy, Girl”

  1. Sarah, Maison Cupcake Says:

    Lemon meringue pie is my dad’s favourite pudding ever, I bet he’d love it in a cake. I don’t think you’re crazy? Maybe it takes one to know one? ;-)

  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food Says:

    My dear… this looks marvelous! The meringue is pure perfection. Wonderful job!

  3. Jean Says:

    Those conversations in your head? Yes, I admit to those and everything else you mentioned. Glad to hear I’m not alone!

    This lemon meringue cake? Absolutely lovely!

  4. Junni Says:

    I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again; boys make girls crazy because most boys are in fact MENTAL with their paranoia that if a girl shows a passing interest in them, they MUST be some stalker-like girl, so in avoidance of this ridiculous logic, girls have to analyse their behaviour in crazy detail to make sure boys don’t think their ‘too keen’ (Heaven forbid!). So basically, we need to un-crazy boys to un-crazy girls.

    Side stepping from that INSANE rant (clearly caused by boy related angst- I told you!) this lemon meringue cake was delicious- I’d sincerely suggest everyone to run to the nearest shops to stock up the ingredients and immediately whip up this yummy delight! x

  5. Isabelle Says:

    Like I said earlier on Twitter: Jax, you’re the GOOD kind of crazy.
    I don’t know if that’s much of a comfort, coming from someone who is clearly out of her mind solely based on the size of her shoe collection (we’ll ignore the other stuff, like having full conversations with my cats or my secret obsession with celebrity gossip sites), but it’s true.
    PS: Lemony desserts are my personal kryptonite. I don’t care how long it takes to make it, I absolutely must have this cake!

  6. Katielase Says:

    Yeah, I’m a mental. Last night I was explaining to my sister how I once ended up in Tesco’s meat aisle crying because I couldn’t decide what cut of lamb I needed. That’s full-on mental.

    I want that cake more than I want to breathe though. Seriously, I need to make that. Maybe now…

  7. Kimmie Says:

    It’s beautiful! Baking is totally my way to express all of my OCD tendencies. That’s not to say they don’t creep up in day to day life, but focusing so hard on the outcome of a simple dish sure takes my mind off of things.

  8. sophia Says:

    The last time I generalized females like that, I got SLAMMED on my blog. But of course you did it with much more class. AND followed up with this freaking gorgeous cake. All is forgiven, bc if crazy comes up with this, I don’t want to be sane. Ever.

  9. Kristin @ FoodFash Says:

    Blogging calms my crazy too! Nail. Head. Hit it.

  10. Paula Says:

    Wow! Thank you for finding this recipe and sharing it. That cake looks amazing and one I will definitely make.

    Love that you *think* you’re crazy…

  11. Milla Says:

    Please, please make this for me :) I’ll bring you cute stuff from Paris! Hehe – wow, this looks fab!

    Producing such amazing dishes and greater than that, all the planning (what time the light hits the kitchen – cuckoo!!) isn’t just from a love of food, it’s a passion and that’s why I love what you do so much. As much as I love food and cooking, the idea of tidying the kitchen post-baking usually deters me.


  12. saltyseattle Says:

    I love you because you are crazy but I would love you even more if this were sitting in front of me right now and I could EAT THE WHOLE THING.

  13. Cakewhiz Says:

    i really like the way your cake turned out. the burned meringue look is so attractive… i will be trying this soon… hehe

  14. Nelly Rodriguez Says:

    Meringue is my ultimate religion and this one looks like…heaven! (Lol, that sounded a bit corny but those are my true feelings…) Gorgeous!

  15. Delishhh Says:

    I so agree with you – i try to ignore my conversations in my head, i try to remember that i can’t do it all, i can not be a super woman. At the end of the day i clear my head do not think about anything and always say tomorrow is a new day with new challenges – it helps a lot and i always get a good night sleep. Clearing your head with all your info at the end of the day is awesome. Either by just saying STOP, writing it down or what ever. This cake looks awesome. . .cooking helps too :)

  16. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence Says:

    Beautiful meringue!! I made a spiky baked Baked Alaska once. Such a fun presentation. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Richelle Says:

    Lemon curd is one of my favourite things ever, I have to be restrained from just eating it with a spoon. Lemon in desserts is kinda my thing. Oh and my birthday is soon.

  18. Yuri Says:

    What a gorgeous cake! I know I won’t find anyone who’ll bake it for me today [I’m the one who cooks/bakes while my friends eat] but I know I’ll be making this soon :)

  19. Marla Says:

    Wow! this cake looks amazing. Perfect for entertaining!

    We are in our final week of Get Grillin’ – Dessert is the theme and we would love if you submitted up to any 3 recipes (they don’t have to be grilled) to our link up. This one would be perfect! This week we have a Rouxbe Cooking School giveaway. http://su.pr/2YaIiV

  20. Mari's Cakes Says:

    It looks wonderful Jackie. I am so glad I came to visit through Brian’s guest post. I stay to follow.

    Have a great weekend,

  21. Nicole @ itsfeedingtimeatthezoo Says:

    This looks like the perfect cake to eat while having a deep and meaningful conversation with yourself. Love it.

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