a truly nigella cake – which for me means that it both tastes and looks impressive, but is so simple it feels almost like a cheat. full disclosure means I have to tell you I made this twice – but it’s not through any fault of hers: I was a little too anxious and took it out of the oven too early ): but I thankfully had enough ingredients and time to make it again.
this is a simple, rustic-looking layer cake, with sponge and meringue baked together and a smattering of curd between. it’s the first time I’ve made a cake like this, but it almost definitely won’t be the last time – it opens up a world of delightful permutations: chocolate sponge and mint meringue, a pistachio sponge and chocolate meringue and chocolate ganache (sort of like a cake I made a long time ago with a dense chocolate base and a nutty meringue).
the recipe is fancy-looking without needing fancy techniques or equipment, which really is what I love about nigella’s recipes. it went down very well at the lunch-party I brought it too, the tangy curd providing intensity to the textured layers, and was spectacular with a mug of hot tea.
p.s. you’ll see that my peaks didn’t hold up, but that didn’t bother me much – the cake was lovely all the same!
lime meringue cake (adapted from nigella lawson)
63g unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
2 eggs, separated
50g + 100g + 0.5 tsp castor sugar
50g plain flour
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.25 tsp baking soda
zest of 2-3 small limes, or 1 key lime
3.5 tsp milk
2 tsp lime juice
0.25 tsp cream of tartar
75ml double cream (I omitted this)
75-80g lime curd (recipe here)
- preheat the oven to 200C. line and butter two six-inch round tins – I used deep ones.
- in the bowl of a food processor, mix the yolks, 50g of sugar, butter, cornflour, baking powder and baking soda, and the zest by blitzing a few times. add the lemon juice and milk, process again until smooth.
- spread this between the prepared tins evenly (a good way is to weigh your bowl beforehand so you know how much the batter weighs) and level the top with a spatula/back of a spoon.
- whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form, and gradually whisk in 100g of sugar until stiff peaks. divide these between the two tins, smoothing the meringue directly above the cake batter.
- smooth the meringue in one of the pans, and in the other pan, use a spatula to peak the surface. sprinkle the 0.5 tsp sugar over the top of the peaks. bake both for 20-25 minutes.
- test the flat cake to check the meringue has cooked all the way through – trust your instincts and let it continue cooking. mine browned quite a bit (which I rather liked) and took rather longer than the recipe states. remove the pans to a wire rack and cool completely in the tin.
- unmould the flat cake, meringue-side down on a plate. if you’re using the cream, whisk it until thick and spread it on the cake. spread the lime curd over the cream and top with the other cake, meringue-side on top.