LEMON CHIFFON BERRY FLAG CAKE WITH MINI MERINGUES
Yield: 1 sheet cake (12 x 18 x 1-inch)
Are you ready to enjoy berry season? I am! Flag day is fast approaching and I partnered up with Driscoll's and feedfeed to create a new Flag Cake. This is a take on Eton Mess, one of my favorite summer desserts, in the form of a cake. What's not to like? Perfect for the 4th of July or any summer picnic. The frosting is actually a swiss meringue buttercream that holds up well in warm weather.
There are a lot of Flag Cakes out there, so let's try something new. I wanted a sense of air and lightness with crunch for texture. The cake batter incorporates egg whites to give it air, there's a thin layer of vanilla buttercream frosting for creaminess and to keep it from being overloaded with frosting, the white stripes are made of adorable swirled meringue kisses. The baby star meringues are my personal favorite. For a summery twist I've incorporated lemon into the meringues, but I'm sticking to the classic combo of raspberries and blueberries. They are classic for a reason.
Julie Resnick, co-founder of feedfeed and I are doing a demo of this Flag Cake on June 7, 2016, 2pm EST. Check out the Facebook Live Video on my FB page, The Judy Lab. We're happy to be back with Driscoll's after the pie demo Julie and I did last year. I'll post the Flag Cake video in this recipe post after it airs. The video will include a piping bag demo for the meringues and frosting. If you're new to baking or using a piping bag, I think you'll love it once you've done it a few times. Don't be afraid to experiment, you can always scoop up the meringue, put it back into the piping bag and start over. Shhhh, no one will ever know. note: highly suggest to make meringues in advance for a chewy center.
note: If you are looking to shortcut this recipe, you can assemble the cake using store bought meringue kisses. Many grocery stores now carry them ready made. The baby stars can be piped out of frosting.
For lemon meringues:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
For the lemon chiffon cake:
1/2 pounds (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra to butter the sheet pan
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk, well shaken
3 packages (6 ounces each or 1 1/3 cups each) packages Driscoll's Raspberries
1 package (6 ounces or 1 1/4 cups) package Driscoll's Blueberries
For the vanilla swiss buttercream:
6 fresh large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Make the lemon meringue kisses and stars:
Preheat oven to 200°F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper trimmed to fit the inside of the pan. Prepare a large 18-inch piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M star tip. Place bag upside down in a tall jar or glass and fold piping bag backwards. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat egg whites and salt on medium speed until frothy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar in 2 tablespoon increments on slow speed. Sugar should be incorporated slowly to reduce gritty texture. Scrape side of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Begin to increase speed to medium for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add lemon zest and lemon juice; increase speed to high and beat until firm. Reduce speed and add confectioners sugar in 3 batches. Scrape sides of bowl and beat on high speed for 5 minutes. Batter should be shiny and glossy. Test for doneness by removing whisk and batter should have a long nose like a birds beak.
Remove the piping bag from the jar and hold with one hand; transfer meringue with a rubber spatula. Carefully fold the bag upwards and tie with a rubber icing bag tie or use butchers twine. Twist the bag to create pressure.
Press a small amount of meringue under each corner of parchment paper so it will stick to the sheet pan. This will also remove any excess air before starting to pipe the meringue stars and kisses.
Use a separate sheet pan for kisses and stars as they will have different baking times. Starting with the little stars, place tip vertically down on parchment paper and press for 2 seconds, begin to pull up slowly and reduce hand pressure as you pull up. The star should be approximately the diameter of a large blueberry. Try practicing on a separate piece of parchment paper until you create consistent sizes. The practice stars can be scraped up with a rubber spatula and put back into the piping bag. At minimum make 30 stars, but I suggest to make 45 stars. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and place on a cooling rack. Center may seem too loose but overnight they will dry to create a chewy center. If there is a problem with consistency or creating a chewy center a common issue is humidity. Baking meringues on dry weather days should ensure success.
To make kisses, pipe the meringue in a 1-inch circle pressing firmly and evenly. Continue to coil around and create a swirl by finishing in the center; decrease pressure as you lift the tip. Piping even sized meringue kisses will make your cake look more uniform and make it easier to cut. Bake minimum of 26 meringues kisses, but suggest to make 40. Finish balance of meringue batter in any shape of your choice. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove and place on cooling rack. Dry overnight on counter.
Note: You can substitute homemade meringues with store bought and use frosting to represent the stars.
Make the lemon chiffon cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter sheet pan, don't forget to get in the corners.
In a large mixing bowl sift together cake flour (see substitute below), baking powder and baking soda. Mix in salt and set aside.
Separate eggs and put yolks aside in a small bowl. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites until you reach stiff peaks. Transfer egg whites into a separate bowl.
Change mixer to paddle attachment. In a clean bowl cream together butter and sugar until pale yellow. Start mixer at low speed and gradually set on high speed for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and buttermilk; mix until combined and add egg yolks one at a time until fully incorporated.
Add flour mixture in 2 to 3 batches while mixer is on low speed. Scrape side and bottom of bowl as necessary. Do not overbeat. Turn off mixer and gently fold in egg whites with a large rubber spatula until just barely incorporated; keep as much air in the batter as possible.
Spread batter evenly in the sheet pan. Smooth it out using an off-set spatula. Bake until lightly golden brown, approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting toothpick in center of cake, it should come out clean. Set on rack and cool completely, preferably 3 to 4 hours, minimum 1 hour.
Cake flour substitute: 1 cup cake flour = 2 tablespoons cornstarch into 1 cup measuring cup and fill with all-purpose flour, make sure to level flour.
Buttermilk substitute: Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup; add enough milk till it reaches 1 cup. Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes. It will thicken and look curdled.
Make the vanilla swiss buttercream:
In a large metal bowl whisk together sugar and egg whites. Set bowl over a pot of boiling water as a double boiler, constantly whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Pour mixture in bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip on high speed until it is thick, shiny and white. The peaks should be very firm. If they are not firm, the frosting will not be as stable.
While the egg whites are whipping, sift confectioners sugar. After you reach stiff peaks, add confections sugar and salt all at once into mixer on very low speed until it is fully incorporated.
Quickly add butter and shortening in 2 to 3 additions. Add vanilla extract.
Switch to paddle attachment and beat on high speed until smooth, approximately 5 minutes. The longer you beat the frosting, the whiter the color will become.
Note: The buttercream can be stored at room temperature for 4 days, up to 2 weeks in refrigerator, 2 months in the freezer.
Assemble the Flag Cake:
Add frosting to center of cake and spread evenly using an off set spatula. Start with half the frosting to determine if you want a light or heavy layer of frosting.
Starting with the bottom of the cake, begin placing 2 rows of raspberries along the bottom edge of the cake. Place a single row of meringue kisses and alternate with double row of raspberries. Top row should end with a double row of raspberries.
Leave room for the blueberry section. Place 10 blueberries across the top left corner and 8 blueberries down vertically. This should be the equivalent of the height of the top 3 rows of raspberries and meringue kisses; horizontally it will match 4 meringue kisses across. If you can make it even, this will just make it easier to cut the cake for serving.
Finish the cake with little meringue stars. Place a small amount of frosting on the backside of the meringue star and place on top of the blueberry section, the frosting will act as a glue. As an alternative, the stars can be made out of frosting using a Wilton 1M tip.
Note: If you make the cake in advance, wrap it tightly with plastic after the cake has completely cooled. Fruit can be assembled in advance but suggest to place them on the same day as serving to eliminate the need to refrigerate the entire sheet cake. If you want the meringues to stay crisp and chewy, place them on the cake just before serving as they can begin to absorb moisture from the frosting.