A beautifully simple lemon cake filled with lemon curd and frosted with a sweet and creamy meringue frosting – you know you want a slice. This is my favourite cake I’ve ever created as it has not only a gorgeous lemon and vanilla flavour but the texture is out of this world.
- It’s both sweet and tangy.
- Delectably soft and fluffy lemon cake layers.
- So much lemon flavour.
- Homemade or store-bought lemon curd works.
I originally created this cake idea for Sugar Salt Magics 3rd birthday. Back then it had a pavlova topping like this brownie meringue cake but it wasn’t super pretty. I decided to breathe new life into it and not only are the cake layers softer and more delicious, the meringue is now in the form of a spreadable frosting. It’s absolutely luscious, creamy, sweet and all the right things.
This lemon meringue cake is perfect for any occasion but being that it’s so pretty, it’s wonderful for celebrations like Easter or Mother’s Day.
This recipe was first posted here on 30th October, 2018. It has been updated with a new recipe and images.
Ingredients you’ll need
Jump to the recipe card for full ingredients and instructions.
- All your classic cake ingredients are here: flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk. It gets it’s rise from a combination of baking powder and baking soda. It’s extra moist and tender from a little vegetable oil and that soft texture is amplified with the use of cornflour (US cornstarch). The combination of flour and cornflour is homemade cake flour, so you can use that in place of both.
- The flavour: The flavour comes from real lemons and lemon curd. The cake is spiked with both lemon juice and lemon zest giving it an irresistible lemon flavour. Lemon curd is used between the layers as a filling. I love making my lemon curd from scratch – it’s so much better than store-bought, pinky promise – it’s less sugary-sweet and more creamy.
- The meringue frosting: The frosting is made from egg whites, sugar and a touch of lemon juice. Thick and sweet, while it’s not baked, it is cooked so no need to worry about uncooked eggs.
How to make lemon meringue cake (step-by-step)
This lemon meringue cake is a layer cake so there are a few steps but none are difficult and you’ll be rewarded with an absolute showstopper. The cake batter itself comes together quickly and much like any cake batter. The meringue frosting isn’t difficult either, especially with the hands-free ease of a stand mixer.
Jump to the recipe card for full ingredients and instructions.
- Beat the sugar and fats: Beat together the sugar with the oil and butter until you have a very light and fluffy mixture (photo 1).
- Add the eggs: Add the eggs one at a time, and scraping down the bowl every so often until they’re all incorporated and mixture is thick and fluffy (photo 2). Mix in the vanilla.
- Dry ingredients: Swap to a spatula and gently stir in the flour ⅓ at a time (photo 3) until just incorporated and alternate these additions with the milk and lemon juice.
- Bake: Divide the batter between 2x 8-inch cake pans (photo 4) and bake for around 32 minutes.
Make sure to let the cakes cool before filling and frosting.
The meringue frosting
The meringue frosting is made using the Swiss meringue method with sugar and egg whites lightly whisked over a double boiler until it hits a certain temperature, then it’s beaten in a stand mixer or with an electric mixer until you have thick, glossy meringue.
- Whisk and heat: Add the sugar, egg whites and a little lemon juice to a bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering (not boiling) water. Whisk gently with a balloon whisk (photo 5) until it reaches a temperature of 70C / 160F (photo 6) – at this temp the eggs are pasteurised and safe to eat.
- Beat until thick and glossy: Transfer the bowl to your stand mixer or just use a handheld electric beater to beat the meringue mixture until it’s thick and glossy (photo 7).
Assembling the cake
- Place one of the cakes onto a cake platter.
- Pipe a line of frosting around the outside just in from the edge a little.
- Fill the centre with lemon curd (photo 8).
- Top with the second cake and spread the remaining frosting all over (photo 9).
- Toast the meringue with a kitchen blowtorch (photo 10).
Tips and tricks
- Weigh ingredients: When baking, it’s always recommended to weigh your ingredients if a weight is provided. Using weight is far more accurate than using volume measurements like cups and will give you the best final result.
- Don’t overmix: It’s so important when making cakes, not to overmix the batter. This can result in dry or dense cakes or your cake sinking.
- Whisk the egg whites while heating: You must whisk the egg whites, although gently – not vigorously, continually while they are over the double-boiler or you may end up with bits of cooked egg white in your meringue, instead of a nice smooth meringue topping.
- Cool the cake completely before filling and frosting.
- You can use storebought lemon curd, however making it from scratch is very quick and easy and it definitely tastes better too.
There’s a couple of gorgeous variations that you can do with very little change here.
- Lime: You could give this cake a lime pie take by swapping all the lemon out for lime, including the curd. Here’s my lime curd recipe.
- Passionfruit: Turn it tropical. Swap out the lemon juice for passionfruit juice (without the seeds) then fill with passionfruit curd. Here’s my passionfruit curd recipe.
A take on the classic lemon meringue pie, lemon meringue cake has lemon cake layers in place of a pie crust, is filled with an unbaked lemon curd and frosted with an unbaked meringue frosting.
Lemon meringue filling is simply lemon curd, which is a mix of eggs, sugar, butter and lemon. It’s very quick to make from scratch in a saucepan.
There are actually two main ingredients for meringue – sugar and egg whites. With those 2 ingredients alone, you can make meringue though sometimes a little acid is added for stability and flavourings too.
Yes. The whole thing can also be made using a handheld electric mixer though I love the stand mixer to keep my hands free.
Yield and storage
This cake will feed 10-12 people though you may find your guests going back for seconds.
Can this cake be made ahead?
If you’re making the lemon curd, that can be made up to 2 days ahead. The cake is best eaten on the day it’s made or the following day, though it will keep quite well for up to 4 days, chilled.
Does lemon meringue cake need to be refrigerated?
You can store the cake at room temperature but in a cool place like the pantry for a day but then it should be refrigerated for up to a further 2-3 days.
Did you try this lemon meringue cake recipe?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
- 113 g unsalted butter, softened (½ cup / 1 stick / 4oz)
- ½ cup vegetable oil (125ml)
- 350 g granulated sugar (1 ½ cups / 12.3oz)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 295 g plain flour (all-purp flour) (2 ¼ cups / 10.4oz)
- 35 g cornflour (US cornstarch) (¼ cup / 1.2oz)
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup whole milk (180ml)
- ¼ cup lemon juice (2 small lemons) (60ml)
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest (2 small lemons)
FOR THE NO BAKE MERINGUE FROSTING
- 3 large egg whites, room temp
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup caster sugar (superfine sugar) (150g / 5.3oz)
- ¾ cup lemon curd
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- stand mixer or electric mixer with bowls
- piping bag (or large ziplock with the corner cut off)
- FOR THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan) / 350F.
- Grease two 8 inch round cake pans with softened butter. Line the base with baking paper then roll flour around the inside to coat the sides of the tin before tapping out the excess.
- Beat together softened butter, oil and sugar until very pale and creamy.
- Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beat until fully incorporated, then scraping down sides of the bowl before adding the next.
- Add the vanilla and beat through.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk well to combine.
- Swap to a spatula and add ⅓ of the flour mixture in the butter/sugar mixture and gently mix through. Add half the milk and fold through. Repeat with half of the remaining flour, followed by the milk, lemon juice and lemon zest and finally the last of the flour. With each addition, just gently mix until it’s just combined – don’t overmix.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the two cake tins and bake for 32-35 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool in the tins for 5 mins before turning out onto wire racks, with the tops so they are touching the racks and the bottoms now facing up. Let them cool completely.
- FOR THE MERINGUE: Place the egg whites, sugar and lemon juice in a large heatproof bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) set over a small saucepan of simmering water (make sure the base is not touching the water).
- Whisk the mixture with a hand whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved (the temperature should reach 70C / 160F on a thermometer to be pasteurized).
- Remove the bowl and whisk on medium-high speed with an electric beater or using the stand mixer (with whisk attachment) for 6-8 minutes until thick and glossy with stiff peaks and until the bowl is no longer hot).
- ASSEMBLING THE CAKE: First, place one cakes onto a cake plate.
- Pipe a line of meringue frosting in a circle just inside the edge of the first of the cake layers.
- Fill the centre with lemon curd and level out with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Place the other cake on top.
- Spread the remaining meringue frosting all over the cake, keeping the sides fairly thin (like a naked cake) and smooth the top, then work in some nice swirls.
- Use a kitchen torch to scorch the top a little to give it a true meringue look.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
- For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
- How to use up egg yolks? Leftover egg yolks can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Use them for making homemade lemon curd (great for this recipe), pastry cream or to make egg wash for pies.
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