Sunday, December 3, 2017

President's Cake!: Or, a cooking lesson with A Book of Cookrye

So my niece asked me a favor. She wants to learn how to bake. Well, as anyone who's read this can verify, I can not only bake things that turn out as intended, but also find new and exciting ways to fail!
I asked what she wanted to make. The answer: Chocolate cake! Great choice, don't you think? While there are tons of complicated cake recipes out there, it is very easy to find one where the instructions are "Put things in a bowl, stir, and bake." Plus, she picked chocolate! This'll be great, right?
.........Well, being one of the most generous people I know, she wanted to give this cake away to a teacher of hers. Ya gotta admit, it's pretty inadvertently daring of someone who's never cooked before to give her first attempt to someone else. You'd think she might want to bake a few times, get sure of herself, then start sharing with others. Or maybe that's just me. But that brings us to what made chocolate cake a terrible first choice: Her teacher is gluten-free.
There are are a lot of gluten-free desserts one can make easily. You know, anything that doesn't normally have flour. Things like meringues, custards, ice cream, cheesecake (depending on what you use in the crust). Those doing without gluten have a lot of easy-to-make desserts to choose from. However, cake isn't among them. By the time you've managed to do all the arcane substitutions that you need to make a flour-free cake act like it has flour, your recipe has gotten really complicated. Which brings us to today's perpetration.



I love how even though nothing about their clothes or the kitchen dates the production, somehow this entire show just screams that it comes from the nineties. Also, apparently while the chef has mastered making decadent chocolate masterpieces so fast it looks like he just throws things at bowls until a cake happens, apparently his English is not good enough that he can narrate his own recipe. Not that I mind. He can talk chocolate to me in broken English with a French accent all day.
President's Cake
    Cake:
1 c + 6 tbsp melted butter
8 oz bittersweet Chocolate, melted
10 egg whites
Pinch of salt
2½ tbsp sugar
6 egg yolks
⅓ c + 1 tsp sugar

     Chocolate Mousse:
10 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted*
10 tbsp (1¼ sticks) butter
⅔ c + 1 tsp sugar, divided
2 egg yolks
6 egg whites
Pinch of salt
⅓ c sugar

      Cake:
Heat oven to 350°. Prepare three 8" or two 9" pans. To make very sure the cake comes out in one piece, grease the pans. Then cut a circle of parchment paper to fit inside the bottom of each. Press it down, squeezing out as many air bubbles as possible. Grease the top of the paper.
In a large bowl, cream together the melted butter and melted chocolate. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt. When the egg whites reach the soft peak stage, add 2½ tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff.
In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with sugar until the yolks are thick and the sugar is dissolved. Add the egg yolk mixture to the chocolate mixture. Fold in the egg whites. Pour the batter pans.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the cake layers to cool.

     Mousse:
Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine the butter and ⅓ c + 1 tsp sugar. Add the chocolate and mix until incorporated. Add the egg yolks and mix well.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Add remaining sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
Chill the cake before removing from the pans. Fill and ice with the mousse, and keep refrigerated.

*You might want to melt this before doing anything else and let it cool while you make the cake. Apparently it's very important your chocolate not be hot.

Simplified from Dominique Leborgne, Le Palais du Chocolat, Washington DC via source

You may be wondering how the heck I found this recipe. And... well, I found it a long time ago. Way back when I was really tiny and we had our first dial-up internet, I discovered that there were recipes online. And so, fascinated, I saved every single one I found (we had dial-up, so it wasn't as many as you may think). And the idea of a flourless cake mystified me even then. I'd tried making a cake without flour not too long before (we'd run out) and it came out exactly as you think.
The point is, I've been saving this recipe for an embarrassingly long time and this is as good an excuse as any to finally make it. Well, I'm not going to make it. My niece is. With several of our friends also there, because everyone likes chocolate cake.
We start with a lot of dishes and a lot of separated eggs.
So it looks like we're basically making a chocolate meringue and putting it in cake pans? Maybe? I have to say, one of the fun things about showing others how to do this is their amazement at things you've gotten used to. First, I handed the mixer to my niece saying "And now, you get to use your first power tools!" Then she had to do this.

Her utter wonder at how egg whites turn into fluffy clouds was so sweet to behold. I got excited just seeing her get excited. Also, after having done this a few times, it's really awesome to see how amazed people get when it's new to them. Here I must credit her: for someone who's never cooked before, this is a pretty complicated recipe. First, one must separate over a dozen eggs, then beat egg whites to peaks, then fold them into a batter without deflating anything. Furthermore, on account of a faulty oven, we're baking in two toaster ovens (one per cake layer). In theory, if one can bake in adverse conditions one can bake anywhere. But despite these difficulties, she did an amazing job. My first attempt at this was an utter failure, check out my niece folding in undeflated egg whites perfectly on her first shot.

Incidentally, if you are prone to getting batter flung everywhere whenever you use a mixer, consider putting your bowl in the sink.
This is like 30 minutes of wiping no one will have to do.

We all (there were many of us gathered together because chocolate) decided that rather than give away a two layer cake, we would eat one of them ourselves and give the second one away. I mean really, when you had chocolate cake batter that looked this divine, would you give all of it away?

Meanwhile, going back to the aforementioned adverse conditions, it has been noted that we were using toaster ovens. It turns out only one of them could fit a 9" round pan. And so, in addition to learning a new cake recipe, we learned about smashing foil over a bowl to create a cake pan. Also, doesn't the batter look fantastic? I can't believe you're not supposed to eat it as it is.

And so, we removed the cakes from the oven! Remember everyone, make sure your oven is level or else this will happen. It appeared that today we will to learn how to fix crooked cakes with lots of icing. Incidentally, the doesn't the crispy top make this look like brownies?

Here's where all that business of putting parchment paper circles in before pouring in the batter pays off: If the cake tries to stick to the bottom of the pan, all it can do is glue itself to the paper which was going to fall out anyway.


Now, if you go up and watch the video, you'll notice that he skips the part where you get the cake out of the pans. This may be why.

See that weird gelatinous stuff? As far as I can tell, the egg whites sank to the bottom and deflated there, taking some of the sugar with them. We all tried some of them, and the lightly sweetened hard-bake egg whites tasted like a grim diet dessert. If you've ever dieted, you know the type. They are technically sweet, but taste more like disappointment than anything else. Fortunately, it easily scraped off, leaving... this marvelous tempting creation.
This may actually be the recipe's fault. If you compare the video to the written instructions, he dumps both cocoa powder and melted chocolate into the cake batter. The written recipe makes no mention of any cocoa powder. Maybe it would have absorbed the egg whites before they could sink to the bottom of the pan and make that weird gelatinous thing on top.
Cakes this ugly are why we invented icing.

All right, so it looks like we're about to serve a cow patty, but that's because we haven't hidden the cake yet with... the mousse! Which apparently starts with a chocolate oil slick over a sea of butter.

But following up on previous lessons, we got to once again practice the business of beating in egg whites!

At this point I have to say she was more excited about making the mousse than she'd been about the cake itself. I wanted to show her mixing it, but all I could get was an excited motion blur. For someone who had very nervously nearly dropped the stirring spoon when we started, she was having a lot of fun now that we'd been baking a while. Check out how fast she's stirring!

And so, we begin to crown the cake with the mousse. Which... well, just look at it! This is so thick it hold up its own shape! Incidentally, even if making fancy flourless cakes does not interest you, this mousse was seriously delicious. You could serve it as it is and everyone would love it.

All right, let's see how well the icing hides how ugly this poor cake turned out.

Well, that's no help at all. It still looks like a pathetic thin brown patty. Here we must note that in the original, you stack three layers of this cake instead of just a single one. So that would fix the height issue and make it look less... thin and puny. Howerver, what my niece lacks in baking experience (though don't you think she's done fabulously for having such a complicated recipe for her first?), she makes up for in crafts.

What was now a thin brown patty is now a spacious canvas for an adorable design! But how does it taste?
As aforementioned, we decided to reserve one cake layer for the teacher she meant to give her first baked creation to, and eat the other one for ourselves. Which meant we had a whole (though decidedly less pretty) cake to ourselves.
Now, if you go up to that video and skip to the end, you may notice that for all the elaborate decorating and such, you never see them cut a slice of the cake to show you just how tempting it looks inside. I'd wondered about that until we tried to cut the one we'd made.
You don't cut this cake, you scoop it off the platter like a cobbler. Even if we had done the extravagant chocolate decorations like he did in the video.
Given how it barely holds together long enough to move it onto a plate, I cannot blame the video producers for not showing this.

Now, this cake is rich. It's also not really a cake. Even though we had baked it, it barely held together. It tasted insanely rich and gloriously chocolatey (you may notice the cake is nearly black from all the chocolate in it), but as was noted as were we eating it, "This is chocolate mush!" If you absolutely love chocolate you will likely be ecstatic with this, but most people would be a bit underwhelmed.
You may think we underbaked it, but we not only left it in the oven for well over the given baking time, but we also used bigger pans, meaning the cake was thinner and therefore should have baked faster. It passed all known doneness tests- the toothpick came out clean, it sprang back when pressed, the cake pulled away from the sides of the pan.
What I'm saying here is that the cake itself is not the best part of the recipe-- though if you put the batter in a baked pie crust and froze it, you'd probably have an absolutely divine chocolate pie.
However, the mousse is absolutely delicious. Like, you could throw away the cake recipe and just serve the mousse in cute little cups. Which is great because the mousse recipe makes twice as much as we ended up using. We thoroughly iced 2 cakes and still had a big bowl of chocolate mousse left.

Friday, December 1, 2017

One-Pan Dinner from Canada!

Happy December everyone! We are now in that most trying time of year. Jingle Bells is on the radio around the clock, all those happy families gathered round the tree in commercials make us look at our own relatives and think "yeah right," and despite having a round of Christmas parties to go to and party clothes outfits we may or may not fit in as it is, there will be pies. And so, we at A Book of Cookrye are trying to find creative ways to get through the month without going up a clothing size.
Remember how last year I crossed national borders for the first time in years? Yes indeed, I went to Canada, and all I brought home was this magazine (previously seen here).

Unlike a lot of food magazines you'd see in America, a lot of the recipes look like they actually meant for you to try them at home. They even had an entire chapter dinners you do on a single baking sheet. Which brings us to today's perpetration...

Yes indeed, we're doing the cover recipe! The article was called "Simplifying Supper," but does the recipe live up to the premise?

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables and Baked Eggs with Feta
1 medium sweet potato
1 red bell pepper
1 head fresh fennel
1 red onion
1 zucchini
2 tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp paprika*
Salt and pepper
4 large eggs
¼ c crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
⅓ cup olive oil

Heat oven to 475°. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and grease it.
Cut all vegetables into 1-inch dice, except the tomatoes which you cut into halves. You can save the fennel leaves for decorating the plates if you want to be fancy with no extra effort, or chop them finely.
Toss the sweet potato with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt to taste. Spread the pieces over the pan and bake 10 minutes, or until it begins to soften.
Mix the other vegetables, coat with remaining oil, garlic, rosemary, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Push the sweet potatoes to one side of the pan and put the vegetables onto the vacated space. Be sure everything is in a single layer, and that the tomatoes are skin-side down. Bake 30 minutes or until everything is soft and slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally.
Remove pan from oven, and mix the vegetables. Divide them into into four piles, and turn each pile into a ring, the center of which is just big enough to push a tomato half into. Be sure the chopped vegetables are higher than the tomato halves on all sides, or else the egg won't stay on top of everything. Do this quickly so nothing has time to cool.
Crack an egg into each portion, and shake salt and pepper over each. Sprinkle with feta cheese and return the oven. Bake 6-8 minutes, depending on how done you want the eggs. Sprinkle with parsley.
Using a large spatula, put portions on plates.

NOTE: You can roast the vegetables ahead of time. Just be sure to get vegetables and pan really hot before cracking the eggs over them.

*Hot smoked paprika if you feel like obsessively and strictly sticking to the original.

Source: Food and Drink, Autumn 2016, Liquor Control Board of Ontario

Holy snizzbat, this really is easy! Cut vegetables, bake on a sheet pan, make into mounds, crack eggs on them, bake again until edible! Heck, they don't even have you take the time to cut them into small bits!
That was quick.

Also, the bell pepper I got had just the faintest blush of color which I thought was really pretty. Not that anyone would notice it after the pepper got cut up and cooked, but still...

Seriously, I love how you don't even cut the vegetables into tiny pieces. If you have even mediocre knife skills, you'll have the onion cut up before your eyes get irritated.

I was going to just cut up a bunch of vegetables that were lurking in the back of the refrigerator in varying states of squishiness, but behold what was on sale at the supermarket!

In case you're like me and couldn't identify the thing in the picture without a label, that is fresh fennel. Italians apparently cook the whole thing as a vegetable. I don't know how much of this other people cook, but I used the whole thing- white base, green stems, and all.
I've never eaten fennel in any form before, not even from a spice shaker. And... it's sweet. Surprisingly sweet, almost like stevia leaves, but with more actual flavor. When you expect something to taste like leafy greens, the almost fruit-like sweetness is a bit of a shock. I'm surprised fennel doesn't show up in desserts as much as cinnamon does.
I can't believe garlic sat around my kitchen long enough to look like this.

Right, that was a whole ten minutes spent cutting things, let's get this in the oven!
Just dumping things on a pan is gloriously satisfying after taking cooking classes where you were expected to be obsessed with presentation.

I'm usually skeptical about the portion sizes of recipes from high-end magazines. They assume that the hoity-toity magazine purchasers aren't going to eat. But, for the record, this pan contains half the recipe. You will note that said half-quantity recipe barely fits.
According to the recipe writers, this serves two. For once, the writers might be right.

Let us pause here and note the best part of this recipe so far. Below you will see literally all the dishes used in getting this ready to bake.

Now, they're not kidding when they say to make a well in the center of each pile for the egg to land in. The egg will run right down the side of your vegetable mountain and onto the pan if you don't. It's still edible of course, but looks like this.

If you're wondering why half the vegetables went missing, I wondered how I would ever eat a whole pan of this at once, and decided to instead save half of them for later. As you can see, a very generous portion remained- even if it looked like someone threw it at the pan. Let's see how we did on the second attempt:

Well, it doesn't look as decorative as the magazine cover, at all. How did they get the yolks to sit completely on top of the whites instead of in the middle of them? I think whoever made this for the photoshoot cooked the whites until solid, then dropped the yolks on top.
But that's all right, because I saved the fennel leaves and therefore have a garnish!
Maybe I should have chopped the fennel first.It looks like I dropped grass clippings on dinner.

As for how this tastes.... astonishingly good! Like, if you didn't see the recipe first, you'd never guess that it's so healthy. Don't ask how or why, but this is a lot better than the list of ingredients says it should be. Happy December, everyone, and good luck to those of us who are trying not to bust our diets too badly!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Pumpkin Chips: or, These are worth half their weight in sugar

You know those orange things people ritualistically put on their porches every fall?

It's a strange ritual perpetrated here in the United States. Because it is fall, people almost automatically put pumpkins out on their porches every year. I don't mean jack-o-lanterns, I mean just... putting pumpkins in front of the house. Because fall. Did you know you can eat them?
Everyone of course knows about pumpkin pie and the astonishing proliferation of pumpkin spice everything, but it seems few people realize you can make it yourself using those funny orange things they deposited right outside the door.
We at A Book of Cookrye aren't going to make our own pumpkin pie, but we will bravely carry the autumn torch of sugary pumpkin-flavored things even though December is upon us with fake snow and mandatory cheer.
Miss Leslie, Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches, 1848

Pumpkin Chips
1 pumpkin
for every pound of cut-up pumpkin:
1 pound (2 cups) sugar
½ c lemon juice

Pare the outer skin off the pumpkin. Your vegetable peeler if you have one will prove useless, so use a paring knife. And have a knife sharpener on hand- you will need to resharpen it about halfway through.
Remove the seeds and strings, then cut the pumpkin into strips about 2 to 4 inches wide. Then cut them into slivers about ⅛" thick.
Weigh the pumpkin, then measure out the lemon juice and sugar (This will be a lot of lemon juice; you may want to just get a bottle instead of squeezing it yourself). Mix everything in the pot you'll be boiling it in, and let it soak overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, put it on to a moderately fast boil. You don't want it to boil too hard, but don't slowly simmer it either. When the chips are transparent, put them in jars.
These are delicious put in already-baked individual tartlet shells.

Source:Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches, Miss Leslie, 1848

When you read the title of Pumpkin Chips, did you imagine a sort of orange equivalent of kale chips? Well, in 1848, pumpkin chips were boiled in lemon syrup that contains literally their own weight in sugar! You thought the pumpkin spice lattes were diabetes in a caffeinated cup? Miss Leslie and her 1848 cookbook use so much sugar that even the iced pumpkin spice creations with whipped cream on top are practically health food.  Let's get on with it, shall we?

A pumpkin is maddeningly tedious to skin. For one thing, they are really big, so you're going to have a lot of square footage to peel. Furthermore, these things are hard. A vegetable peeler is useless here. And your paring knife will need resharpening at least twice per pumpkin.

Now, when I make preserves, I almost always go through the following thoughts in this order:
1. I probably should make a lot, since I won't be doing this for a long time.
2. (after getting the fruit ready to cook) This is way too much fruit! What was I thinking?
3. (after the fruit shrinks in the syrup) I'm barely going to get one tiny jar of preserves out of this! Why did I work all this time only to get a tiny teacup of preserves?
4. (upon getting the preserves into the jars) There is so much of this! What would anyone do with this much preserves?

With this in mind, and given that not-canned pumpkins are so seasonal, I decided to make chips out of not one but two whole pumpkins. The paring alone took over an hour. Incidentally, a pumpkin without its skin feels surprisingly spongy.
Is this a recipe or a cry for help?

Eventually, we reached the point where we get the pumpkin into slivers.
After carefully trying to scrape off as little rind as possible, this felt so good.

Now, normally making a recipe in large quantity doesn't make it that many times harder. Like, doubling a cake recipe and baking two of them doesn't take twice as long as if you had baked only one. However, in this recipe, we didn't have any such time-saving. You see, it takes exactly twice as long to cut up two pumpkins as it does one.
The knife is included for scale. This is a lot of pumpkin.

I have to admit, at this point I was done. I could take no more and had to call this off for the day. I thought I'd just hack the pumpkins into manageable-sized pieces and finish this project the next night. While there was no reason the pumpkin couldn't spend the night in the refrigerator, even the large gallon bags I'd had in mind for this seemed worthlessly puny in the face of all this pumpkin. However, even that hasty cutting job took longer than an hour.

If you are at home and cooking so much food you must store it in a trash bag, either you have a big party coming up, you're volunteering your kitchen for charity, or something is wrong with you. I should note that this bag was full to the top and so heavy it threatened to rip. Once I forced it to fit in the refrigerator, the shelf sagged unnervingly. I wasn't sure the support brackets would survive the night.
And so, the next day, all of this pumpkin had to be cut into slivers "about as thick as a half dollar." The whole trash bag of pumpkin. I have to think that back in Miss Leslie's day, preserves were a group effort. They had to be. Even in competent hands, this would be at least 4 hours with a knife.  If someone had to make enough preserves to last until fruit came back in season, literally all other housework would have to stop.

Meanwhile, we had to deal with step 2 of this recipe: cooking the chips.
It is a fundamental fact that the modern suburban kitchen is simply not equipped for cooking in quantities to feed a large family of 1800's farmers. Even if someone goes out and buys the sort of massive cauldron you'd need to boil all of this at once, it may not actually fit on the stove. Furthermore, rarely will anyone have the counterspace to handle such a massive undertaking.
Now, it is true that at any point I could have decided I didn't need to make chips of all the pumpkin. Even after reducing all of it to slivers, there are a lot of things you could do with cut-up pumpkin if you wanted to scale down the preserves recipe. Nevertheless, I forged daftly forward with candying all of it.
The first major problem was selecting a suitable pot. I'd hoped that the pumpkin would fit into a much smaller space once it was cut into tiny chips. While it did, two pumpkins make even the big pot your mom boils spaghetti in look puny when you try to fit them inside.
Fortunately, I have Mexican family, which means some of us make tamales! I called my sister asking if I could borrow their massive tamale pot (if you've never seen one, imagine one of the bigger metal buckets from the hardware store, but with pot handles on the sides). Unfortunately, theirs had finally rusted.
This ended up happening instead.

You may think that's a lot of sugar, and you would be right. Ever seen those massive bags of sugar and flour on the very bottom shelf at the grocery store? The ones that look like feed sacks instead of baking ingredients? Making two pumpkins' worth of chips will use up one of those. Let's pull the camera back and see what all this pumpkin and sugar ended up cooking in.

You know what the worst part of this was? If you go up to the recipe, you'll see that you're supposed to measure out the sugar and lemon juice by the weight of the pumpkin. Meaning, you're going to have to weigh the pumpkin.
Before I realized just how much pumpkin I would have on my hands, I'd planned to just take it into the grocery store and use the scales in the produce department. But those tend to have a maximum weight of 10-20 pounds. So I had to get out a bathroom scale and weigh myself- both holding the trash bag full of pumpkin and not. Some quick subtraction yielded the weight of the pumpkin (which was about 30 pounds if you're curious). But let's go back to what happened- I had to weigh myself. If you've had crippling image issues all your life, the act of stepping on a scale and looking down will forever be emotionally fraught.

Yes, that is two roasting pans, each of which is perched on two burners. There's something both delightfully old-fashioned and fiercely intimidating about using a pot that is so big. There was a third pan's worth of pumpkin still bagged in the refrigerator, but I had only two pans and four burners.
Even after an overnight soak, the soaking water tasted like concentrated lemonade with not a slight suggestion of pumpkin flavor. Nor did a pumpkin aroma exude from the pans.
But finally, after all this work, it was time to get these suckers into jars. I don't know the first thing about actual home canning. I've just heard it's reasonably straightforward to do right, but if you do it wrong you will die of botulism. So instead I decided to keep these in the refrigerator. There were... a lot. In case you don't quite realize what you're looking at, this is so many jars of pumpkin chips they do not all fit in the refrigerator door.

But you haven't seen the biggest jars yet. I'd thought these two would actually contain all the chips. But when you're cooking in such massive amounts, absolutely everything in the kitchen- from the massive stewpot to the roaster that held two turkeys in last year- starts to look ridiculously dinky compared to the massive mountain of cut-up pumpkin.

As a helpful tip, clear off absolutely all the counterspace before getting your pumpkin chips from the pot to the jars. You will need more room than you expect. Also, the syrup will get absolutely everywhere. If you have spices, plates, or figurines on the counter, you will have to rinse and wipe them one by one.
But what does one do with all the candied pumpkin chips? Miss Leslie suggests putting them in baked puff-paste shells. I brought some to share with my friends, and having not seen that the recipe suggests making tartlets, they all independently said "These would be really good in little pies!"
I didn't have the time or patience after all this, but for a Thanksgiving gathering I did smush scraps of pie crust into a cupcake pan.

Ain't they pretty?

As for the taste, they were insanely good. Pumpkin and lemon is a surprisingly delicious combination that should appear more often. I'm really glad these are good, because there are... a lot of pumpkin chips waiting in the refrigerator.
In short, this is really tasty. I actually recommend it most highly. However, do not do a whole pumpkin, and under absolutely no circumstances do two at once. Make chips out of maybe one quarter of a single pumpkin, and you'll be delighted with the results without being exhausted getting there.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Lemon Meringue Cake: or, The egg whites were sitting in the freezer anyway

Do you refuse to throw away perfectly good ingredients even if you have no idea what you'd use them for? Do you have nearly full sauce bottles lurking in your cabinets because you made a recipe that called for one tablespoon of something you haven't used since? Are there frozen scraps of this or that carefully wrapped in your freezer because you might find a use for them someday?
If so, we at A Book of Cookrye are no better than you. More than anything, we have a lot of egg whites in the freezer from making a lot of recipes that called for yolks. Of course, one can more easily find recipes for egg whites than one might find one that uses, say, asafoetida or those last meat scraps that you bagged up instead of throwing out.Today, our friends at the Dormeyer electric mixer factory have a super nifty idea for us:
All Electric-Mix Recipes Prepared Specially for your Dormeyer Mixer, 1946

Lemon Meringue Cake
Lemon cake from the recipe of your choice*
2 egg whites
Dash of salt
½ c sugar
¼ tsp lemon extract

Bake the lemon cake in a 9x13 pan.
After removing it from the oven, beat the egg whites and salt until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating constantly, until it stands in stiff peaks. Add the lemon extract.
Spread over the cake and bake 10 minutes.

*The original recipe is the Mix-Easy Two-Egg Cake with 2 tsp lemon rind added to the butter or shortening. For the record, I used this recipe instead because it calls not for 2 eggs but 5 egg whites, and I have an embarrassing number of egg whites in the refrigerator.

All Electric-Mix Recipes Prepared Specially for your Dormeyer Mixer, 1946

Does a lemon meringue cake seem like a desperate reach for novelty to anyone else?  I guess there are only so many cake recipes you can run before you reach the end of cake. This is especially true of an advertising pamphlet, which unlike a more serious cookbook tends to avoid what one may call the more adventurous recipes. Having said that, our friends at the Dormeyer company decided to run some 50-odd cake recipes. When the you barely allow any flavors in your cake chapter that one wouldn't find in the shake machine at a drive-thru, some possibly misguided creativity will ensue.

I can just imagine the people in their desks under orders to come up with enough cake recipes to fill 20 small-print double-sided pages. Eventually someone decides to take the pie out of lemon meringue pie and put a cake in there instead. As a bonus, meringues are a great excuse to justify selling electric mixers because beating egg whites into shaving cream by hand sucks.
Note the deployment of foil to forestall washing.

I couldn't get over how weird it is to put meringue on a cake. In my limited cooking experience, meringue has only appeared two places: on top of pies, or made into cookies. Putting meringue on cake is utter madness. What topsy-turvy world is this?

The cake looked actually rather nice right out of the oven. It is a really enticing-looking big pan of meringue once you get over the fact that this clearly is not a pie.
 
However, as seems to often happen to meringues here at A Book of Cookrye, it sweated out little brown beads as it cooled.
Do you think they look enough like sprinkles that I could claim I did it on purpose?

Apparently whoever thought of a lemon meringue cake was afraid to really stick to the premise- that is a puny ration of meringue for a cake this size. If you look at any slice of lemon meringue pie, the meringue tends to be at least as tall as the lemon under it. But having followed the recipe instructions, this is how much meringue, er, crowned the finished creation.

That is a pathetic layer of icing, isn't it? If you ate a slice with your eyes closed, you couldn't even tell the meringue was there. I mean, it will help keep the cake from going stale the same way any icing does. So if you never really liked the taste of icing on cake but still think a bare cake looks kinda ugly, this idea is for you.