Lemon meringue pie… What a classic–and certainly deserving of its own special day. Known today as an all-American dessert, lemon meringue pie has a rich taste—and history! Lemon flavorings date back to Medieval times, but meringue wasn’t quite perfected until around the seventeenth century. The pie, as we know and love it, wasn’t produced until the nineteenth century. But let’s be honest. We don’t really care where it comes from, as long as it gets on our plates. [photo and recipe via allrecipes]
While you’re probably aware that there’s all kinds of pesky math and science involved in baking that you don’t need to really concern yourself with, we think it’s pretty important to note that some of it actually is pretty cool. For instance, did you know that when you beat egg whites, the reason they are able to reach the consistency needed for meringues is due to some kind of wacky shenanigans happening with hydrogen bonds and proteins breaking? The breaking of proteins in the egg whites causes them to unfold, or “denature”, which brings about the stiffness that allows them to form those familiar peaks. Okay, okay—so we don’t really get it either. But it’s pretty amazing, right?
Anyway, we love making lemon meringue pie, so much so that we don’t need the excuse of National Lemon Meringue Pie Day on August 15 to do it. And of course recipes for it are a dime a dozen, so don’t think we’d throw you just any old recipe. This one is not for lemon meringue pie—it’s for lemon meringue cake! Nothing says “celebration” quite like cake, right? This recipe is perfect: not too sweet (if there is such a thing), new and interesting, but still with the same flavors and texture of the dessert you know and love. Surprise the family with this one; you won’t be sorry!
- 1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
- 1 1/4 cups water, or as needed
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 (21 ounce) can lemon pie filling
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3 8-inch cake pans.
- Mix the cake mix, water, eggs, and vegetable oil as directed on the package, and pour batter into prepared cake pans.
- Bake the layers in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan at least 20 minutes or until completely cool.
- When the cake is completely cool, run a paring knife between the cake and the edge of the pan. Hold the cake pan on its side and gently tap the sides of the pan against the counter to loosen it. Cover the cake pan with a plate or cooling rack, and invert it to tip the cake out of the pan and onto the plate.
- To fill and decorate, lay a cake layer onto an oven-safe plate, and spread half the lemon filling over the bottom layer. Place a second layer gently on the lemon filling, and spread the rest of the filling on the top of the second layer. Top with third layer.
- Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peaks, then gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture forms a fluffy, shiny meringue. Spread the meringue all over the cake like a frosting, spreading it into decorative peaks and swirls. Place the decorated cake back into the hot oven, and bake until the peaks and swirls of meringue are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Refrigerate 4 hours to overnight, then serve cold.