Whipped heavy cream is a frequent addition to pound cakes because it adds the same amount of fat as butter but with additional moisture to produce a particularly smooth, tender cake. In this recipe by Ben Mims, the technique is a boon to these small, tangy versions, made with lemon zest in the batter and su used with a tart lemon syrup. The meringue on top is piped with three different-size star tips to mimic the top of a bouquet of flowers, then torched until cooked through and caramelized. If you’re a fan of lemon meringue pie but have always wanted it with just a thick crust and meringue, then this cake will be your dream come true.
Little Lemon Meringue Pound Cakes
- ¾ cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1⅓ cups (267 grams) plus ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons (8 grams) vanilla extract, divided
- 1 ¼ teaspoons (3 grams) kosher salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 large eggs (150 grams), room temperature 1¾ cups (219 grams) cake flour
- ⅓ cup (80 grams) heavy whipping cream, chilled
- Lemon Syrup (recipe follows)
- 3 large egg whites (90 grams), room temperature
- Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Butter and flour 2 (8-cup) mini loaf pan plaques (such as Williams Sonoma Goldtouch) or 16 (5½x3-inch) mini loaf pans.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, 1⅓ cups(267 grams) sugar, 1½ teaspoons (6 grams) vanilla, 1 teaspoon (3 grams) salt, baking powder, and zest at medium speed until flu y and pale, at least 6 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until there are no streaks of yolk left after each addition, about 15 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. With mixer on medium-high speed, beat until superlight and airy, at least 3 minutes. Add flour, and stir with a rubber spatula just until combined.
- In a small bowl, whisk cream by hand until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold whipped cream into batter until completely smooth. Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons batter into each prepared loaf cup or pan, and smooth tops.
- Bake until cakes are slightly raised and golden brown on top and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert pans onto wire racks set over rimmed baking sheets or sheets of foil, and unmold from pans. Spoon about 1 tablespoon Lemon Syrup onto bottom of each cake while still warm, letting it soak completely into cake. Let cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3⁄4 cup (150 grams) sugar, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt by hand until combined. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and whites are just hot to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Immediately remove bowl from saucepan, and add remaining ½ teaspoon (2 grams) vanilla. Return bowl to stand mixer, and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, cool to the touch, and stiff peaks form.
- Divide meringue among 3 piping bags fitted with 3 different size and shape star tips. (Alternatively, scrape meringue into 1 large piping bag fitted with a medium star tip.) Turn cakes over so they’re upright. Pipe 4 to 5 mounds meringue from largest tip onto cakes, spacing evenly apart. Pipe 2 to 3 mounds meringue from medium-size tip onto cakes, filling in some of the gaps in center of each cake. Pipe 5 to 6 mounds meringue from smallest tip onto cakes, filling in any remaining gaps on top of cakes.
- Using a kitchen torch, carefully brown meringue all over cakes, and serve immediately. Cakes can be made, soaked in Lemon Syrup, and stored in an airtight container for up to 1 day before serving. Make, pipe, and torch meringue just before serving.
Makes about 1 cup
- 1 cup (240 grams) fresh lemon juice
- 1⁄2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- In a small saucepan, bring lemon juice and sugar to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool completely. Lemon Syrup can be made up to 3 days in advance. Let come to room temperature before using.