Catherine Ruehle and Sarah Scheffel adapt your favorite cake recipes into gluten-free treats in Let Us All Eat Cake.
My dad’s favorite dessert was lemon meringue pie, so I transformed this classic southern pie into cupcakes in his honor. These cakes are tender and zesty, the lemon curd filling is divinely smooth and perfectly sweet-tart, and the meringue forms a gratifying froth on top. For meringue success, make sure that your bowl and whisk are free of any fats like oil or butter. Fats will keep the meringue from achieving full volume. Torching the meringue adds eye appeal but it’s entirely optional. Your cupcakes will be just as scrumptious if you skip it.
- Place a clean, shallow stainless steel bowl on top of a saucepan filled with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the bowl. Continue whisking until the whites are very hot to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes. Immediately transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on high until glossy. The meringue should hold stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. In a small bowl, mix the milk with the lemon juice and zest. Set both bowls aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. While beating on low speed, slowly add the egg whites. When all the whites have been added, increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add one-fourth of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low until almost fully incorporated. Add one-third of the milk mixture and beat on low until almost fully incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk mixtures, starting and ending with the flour. When all the ingredients have been added, scrape down the bowl and beat on medium for 15 seconds.
- Prepare a double boiler by pouring 2 inches of water into a small saucepan and placing a shallow stainless steel bowl atop the pan so that the bottom does not touch the water (you want indirect heat). Bring the water to a boil over high heat. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice. Continue to whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 10 minutes. (Don’t leave the egg-yolk mixture unattended over the double boiler; you must whisk constantly to avoid curdling or burning.)
- Remove from the heat and add the butter, two pieces at a time, whisking to melt. Allow each addition to melt almost completely before adding the next two pieces of butter.
- Pour the lemon curd into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the curd to keep a skin from developing. Refrigerate until completely chilled and thickened, about 1 hour. The curd can be kept in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, up to 2 weeks.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 24-cup cupcake pan (or two 12-cup cupcake pans) with cupcake liners. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pans, filling them about three-fourths full. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the tops are light golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake tests clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack before removing them from the pan. Just before you’re ready to assemble the cupcakes, make the meringue icing.
- To assemble the cupcakes, remove the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon curd (a spoon will do the job), and then top the cupcakes with lemon meringue. For a pastry chef–worthy finish, toast the meringue on each cupcake with a kitchen torch until it’s nicely browned, focusing the flame on the peak of the icing.
Reprinted with permission from Let Us All Eat Cake copyright © 2014 by Catherine Ruehle and Sarah Scheffel. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC