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 come up with 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 in their advertising pamphlet. 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 from under a 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.


  1. I admit I tend to skim the recipe instructions first time around and not go back to them until after I've read the post. So I read "lemon meringue pie" and thought, "Oh, lemon cake with a lot of egg whites mixed in." But you talked up how strange it was, and then I understood why. This IS pretty friggin' weird. And it does make me go, "Just mix it in the batter!"

    Then again, maybe it IS practical, as you suggest...

    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only person who thinks this is weird

  2. Slapping a meringue on a cake would still be easier than making 7 minute icing. Granted, I'm not a fan of frosting, so I wouldn't care if the cake was naked. Maybe it was a recipe developed by someone who was tired of making frosting she didn't like in the first place.

    1. It could be. And honestly, the meringue did nothing for the taste anyway.