As you my readers can tell, I have a fondness for meringues and curds. This time, I’ve made a grapefruit meringue cake. It’s very much like its more popular counterpart, the lemon meringue cake – perhaps just less sharp and tart on the palate.
While I love the bold contrast in a lemon meringue cake – the tartness and acidity from the lemon curd in contrast the sweetness and caramelised sugar of the Italian meringue, with a nice, light sponge curd that brings every component together, I must admit that there is much appeal for its more subtle cousin, the grapefruit meringue cake.
The grapefruit meringue cake is mellow, a nice balance of flavours without having one flavour being more pronounced than the other.
I think replacing the grapefruit curd with the lemon curd would make this cake a good alternative for people who have low tolerance for sour flavours.
This is perhaps my second time making a grapefruit curd. I realised that even though the flesh and juice of the grapefruit is ruby red, somehow when you turn it to curd, the colour is a lot less intense! The grapefruit curd, on both occasions, was a pale yellow-orange. Not exactly eye-catching if you ask me, especially when it is layered with the sponge.
I think that’s the only disappointment I have with this cake. If anyone has succeeded in making a reddish grapefruit curd, please do share with me some tips – I’m not too fond of using food colouring if I can help it.
This is quite an easy yet impressive cake to put together; you can make the sponge and curd a day ahead, and simply assemble and prepare the Italian meringue the next day. You don’t need good frosting/icing skills for this one; you can either pipe little blobs like I have, or simply do it the good, old-fashioned way – spreading it with a palette knife.
Somehow even though I’m very fond of lemon desserts, this one might be my new favourite.
Did I also mention that this cake managed to please my usual curd haters?
Instead of scrunching up their faces and telling me that the curd is too sour, they requested for seconds of this cake!
Recipe: Grapefruit meringue cake
Makes a 9 inch cake
While this recipe is titled grapefruit meringue cake, you should not feel restricted by it. You can use any citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange for the curd. Or even passionfruit. You can also create this is in the form of a parfait – using martini glasses and layering the components. I think they look pretty when served individually as a dessert to round off a meal.
If you prefer this in the form of a tart, you can also use the curd and meringue recipe here with your favourite pate sucree (sweet tart pastry) recipe. Refer to my previous post on lemon meringue tarts.
For the sponge cake (light genoise):
240g eggs (about 4 large eggs)
100g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
100g plain flour, sifted
1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees celsius. Line and grease a 8″ springform cake tin.
2. Warm eggs and sugar up over a bain marie, until sugar has dissolved and egg mixture is lukewarm to touch. Be careful not to cook the eggs.
3. Whisk the egg mixture at maximum speed for about 6-8 minutes untill pale, thickened, and triple in volume. Batter should be at ribbon consistency.
4. Pour in melted butter (warm but not hot) and fold through the batter.
5. Fold in the sifted flour through the batter thoroughly. Pour cake batter into cake tin and bake immediately in the pre-heated oven for about 28 -30 minutes, until it springs back to touch. Do not open the oven in the first 20 minutes of the baking or the cake may collapse.
6. Allow the cake to cool completely on a cooling rack. Trim the brown top and bottom off and divide the cake diagonally into three equal layers (into thirds). Use a cake turn table and a long serrated knife for best results.
For the grapefruit curd:
125g Caster sugar
125ml citrus juice (I use one ruby red grapefruit and half a lemon)
200g Unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1. Put the lemon juice, caster sugar, and eggs into a stainless steel bowl. Whisk them over a bain-marie.
2. At first, the mixture will go frothy and bubbly. Continue whisking until it thickens until a ribbon stage. This means that as you lift the whisk from the mixture, it will fall back upon itself but should leave a trail or ‘ribbon’ across the surface. This ribbon will not immediately sink back in on itself but will hold firm.This will take a while so be patient.
3. Take the thickened mixture off heat and add in the cubed butter and whisk until incorporated. Cling wrap the bowl and place the curd in the fridge and allow it to cool before use.
For the Italian meringue:
80g Egg white
160g Caster sugar
1. Put in the water and caster sugar into a clean, grease-free pot. Do not stir mixture to prevent crystalisation of sugar. Cook to a soft-ball stage or until 118 degrees celcius. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the sugar as it boils.
2. Start whisking the egg whites until soft peak stage only when the thermometer shows that syrup is at 100 degrees celcius.
3. Once the sugar syrup reaches 118 degrees celcius, take it off the heat and allow the syrup to stop bubbling so rapidly before pouring into the egg whites. Continue to whisk the egg whites at maximum speed until cool and stiff.
4. Fill a piping bag with the italian meringue and pipe over the lemon curd. Using a blow-torch, glaze the meringues.
*Tip: Once egg whites have reached soft peaks, turn the mixer to a low speed as you pour in the sugar syrup in a steady stream. Once you have poured all the syrup, turn the speed to maximum.
Lemon sugar syrup
75 ml granulated sugar
juice from half a lemon (or to taste)
1. Place water and sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil before turning the heat off and add the lemon juice to taste.
2. Brush over cake tops when it is still warm as it allows the sugar syrup to soak the cake layers better.
turntable (if you have one)
1. Place one of the sponge cake layers onto a cake board. Brush the genoise sponge with sugar syrup if you have not done so already. Ensure that the sponge is well-soaked.
2. Roughly divide the curd into three equal portions. Place 1/3 of the curd onto the sponge cake and use a palette knife to spread it evenly and to the edges of the cake.
3. Place the second layer of sponge cakes on top, brush with sugar syrup and repeat step #2.
4. Place the third layer of sponge cakes on top, brush with sugar syrup and repeat step #2. You can place this in the fridge to chill while you prepare the Italian meringue.
5. Pipe/spread the Italian meringue onto the top and sides of the cake. Use a blowtorch to caramelise the meringue until evenly golden brown. The more caramlised it is, the less sweet the meringue will taste.
6. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.