I remember when I was a kid, my grandma Lucy would make this delicious Italian Meringue. I was only allowed to help at first, and then just watch from a distance, that’s when she would heat the sugar and honey to soft-ball stage. Then came the fun part. Grandma didn’t make it often, as it took plenty of time to prepare… and she would make two recipes: We all loved it!
Italian meringue is prepared by the addition of sugar syrup made by heating sugar and water (and sometimes the addition of glucose or corn syrup to stabilize the crystal structure) to the soft-ball stage (240 °F) to egg whites whipped to soft peaks. The sugar syrup cooks the egg whites, heating them well past the 140 °F needed to kill salmonella and any other potentially harmful bacteria. The syrup and egg white mixture is then whipped until cooled to around 100 °F.
The vanilla cake I prepared is a variation of the Lemon Cake I posted back in April. I have to say that between that frosting and this one, I take this one a thousand times over. The other one is meant to be eaten that same day, as this one can last a few days… and a little extra tip, the left over frosting, place it in a bowl and put it in the fridge with some cinnamon sprinkled on top. You won’t resist the temptation to grab a spoonful of it!
Classic Vanilla Cake
Yield: 16 Servings
Recipe by Martha Stewart
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in vanilla.
- Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.
- Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
- Place one cake, bottom side up, on a cake stand. Tuck strips of parchment paper underneath. Using an offset-spatula or table knife, spread top with Whipped Frosting. Top with remaining cake; frost top, then sides.
Cook’s Note: Reserve the egg whites left over from the cake for the frosting. If you don’t have buttermilk, substitute plain yogurt or sour cream (not fat-free).
Italian Meringue Frosting
A Foodies’ Kitchen Original recipe
Enough to heavily frost a 2 layer 8-2 inch cake
5 egg whites
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of honey
1/2 cup of water
1 teaspoon of vanilla
*You’ll need a Candy Thermometer
- First, lets set our workspace and tools: Make sure your mixer bowl is clean and dry, no drop of water on it so the egg whites can form their soft peaks. Next,. move your mixer next to the stove. It will be much more easier for you to add the hot syrup to the egg whites mix bit by bit.
- Bring sugar, water, and honey to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook, undisturbed, until syrup registers 240 °F (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer. The sugar syrup cooks the egg whites, heating them well past the 140 °F needed to kill salmonella and any other potentially harmful bacteria.
- Meanwhile, whisk whites with a mixer until soft peaks form, about 10 minutes. This depends on your mixer. The best way to test it is to remove the bowl from the mixer and tilt it to the side slowly, and if the egg whites hold their place they are ready to use.
- Check on your syrup and make sure it stays under the softball stage. For this, I just leave the saucepan on the stove and reheat it when needed.
- Reduce speed to low, and add hot syrup to your egg whites by the spoonful. I use a small ladle. Make sure that each spoonful gets mixed before adding the next. Clean up the sides of the bowl from time to time. Do this until all the syrup has been mixed with the egg whites. The amount of meringue will rise, so if you want to make two recipes, make it one at the time.
- Let it cool for about 5-6 minutes, since it will be warm (you’ll be able to feel it from the bowl) before you start using it on your cake.
- After it cooled down a bit, frost your cake!
Note: You’ll find that you’ll get some extra help in the kitchen with this frosting. My dad volunteered to clean out the whisk from the mixer!