Don’t be put off by the length of this recipe. Make the syrup a week ahead and make the cakes the day before, then it’s just a matter of combining the filling, sandwiching the layers and whipping up the meringue with a flash through the oven. Scrumptious perfection.
350 grams butter, very soft but not melted
350 grams self-raising flour
350 grams caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
finely grated zest 2 lemons
2 tablespoons lemon juice
finely grated zest 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup caster sugar
¼ cup water
⅓ cup lemon juice
finely grated zest 1 lemon
400 grams firm ricotta (I used Clevedon Valley Buffalo)
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 cup lemon curd
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup caster sugar
Two 20 cm x 5 cm deep round cake tins greased and bases lined with baking paper
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Cake: Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer or a large bowl and beat until the batter is smooth. This should take a maximum of 1 minute.
Divide evenly between the tins and smooth the tops.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden and the centres spring back when pressed with your finger.
Cool in the tins for 5 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks. Remove the lining paper and cool completely.
Lemon syrup: Put the sugar, water, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes then cool.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Filling: Combine the ricotta, sour cream and the icing sugar in a bowl then fold through the lemon curd.
Cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Place one layer on an ovenproof serving plate and drizzle with a third of the lemon syrup then spread with a third of the ricotta mixture. Repeat to make two more layers then top with the remaining cake layer.
Meringue: Beat the egg whites and lemon juice until soft peaks then gradually beat in the sugar until very thick and glossy.
Spread the meringue over the top and sides, covering the cake entirely and lifting the meringue up to form peaks.
Bake the cake for 2-3 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown. Watch it like a hawk as it can burn in seconds.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours before serving.
Christmas Menu: Serve with a Miso, Mirin and Spring Onion Baked Salmon and Spiced Orange and Hoisin Glazed Ham to start. Herb-Crusted Fillet of Beef with Cherry Mostada or a Duck and Orange Salad with Smoky Orange Dressing for mains. Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Mozzarella and Herb Dressing, Mixed Green Vegetable Salad with Sesame Yoghurt Dressing, Three Cheese and Truffle Stuffed Rolls and Crispy Roasted Potatoes and Fennel with Gremolata and Parmesan on the side. Add Ice Cream Bonbons to finish.