Pomegranate Citrus Meringue Cake

yield: 1 eight-inch, 3-layer cake
PRINT

Special Equipment

  • a candy thermometer

Ingredients

For the Lemon Curd

    (makes around 1 cup, enough for one cake)

    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • zest from 1 lemon
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

    For the Vanilla Cake

    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, divided into 1/4 cup and 1 cup portions
    • 3 cups cake flour
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

    For the Pomegranate Buttercream Frosting & Meringue Filling

      (makes enough to frost one cake)

      • 4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
      • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
      • a pinch of salt
      • 2 tablespoons whole milk
      • 2 tablespoons 100% pure pomegranate juice (no sugar or other sweeteners added)

      Assembly

      • 1 cup crushed meringues
      • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

      Instructions

      For the Lemon Curd

      • In a heatproof glass bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice,  zest from 1 lemon, and 4 large egg yolks. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water over medium heat to make a double boiler, making sure that the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water. Whisk occasionally, cooking the mixture until it thickens considerably and a candy thermometer placed in the middle of the mixture reads 172 degrees (F).
      • Remove the bowl containing the curd from the pan. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool until a candy thermometer placed in the middle of the mixture reads 140 degrees (F).
      • When the mixture has cooled to 140 degrees, whisk in a couple of unsalted butter cubes from your 1/4 cup portion. Continue whisking until the butter cubes are completely incorporated, and then add another couple cubes until you finish your 1/4 cup portion. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until well chilled before using to assemble and fill the cake.

      For the Vanilla Cake

      • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans by spraying generously with cooking spray and lining the bottoms of each with parchment paper circles. Spray the parchment paper circles with cooking spray as well.
      • In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together 4 large eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract and 1/4 cup buttermilk. Set aside.
      • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 3 cups cake flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Beat on low speed for 1 minute or until well combined. With the mixer on its lowest setting, add 1 cup unsalted butter and the remaining 1 cup buttermilk. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
      • After 2 minutes, reduce the mixer speed back down to its lowest setting. Add the egg mixture (from the 2nd step) in 3 additions, adding the next addition only when the previous has been fully incorporated into the mixture. Once all the egg mixture has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on low speed for 1 more minute and no more — be careful not to overmix or you'll end up with a dense, tough cake and I'll cry for you!
      • Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean and the top of each cake bounces back when gently poked. Allow the layers to cool in the pans on wire racks for 20 minutes, before turning out onto the wire racks to cool completely before assembling and frosting.

      For the Pomegranate Buttercream Frosting

      • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 4 cups confectioner's sugar, 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, and a pinch of salt. Beat on medium-low speed until the mixture comes together and the butter is fully incorporated throughout the sugar.
      • Reduce the mixer to its lowest speed. Combine 2 tablespoons whole milk and 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice in a separate, small bowl and add to the butter mixture a couple teaspoons at a time. Once all the liquid has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes. If it is too pale for your liking, add another 1/2 teaspoon of pomegranate juice. But be careful not to add too much, or your frosting will be too liquidy! Add up to 1 1/2 teaspoons more of pomegranate juice max.

      Assembly

      • Transfer about 1 cup of pomegranate buttercream frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large plain icing tip (or a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off). Pipe a ring around the outer edges of your bottom cake layer, creating a "border". Learn from my mistakes and be generous with your frosting — you should use around 1/2 cup of frosting for one border. The more you use, the prettier it will look when you slice the cake.
      • Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread 1/2 cup lemon curd in the interior of the buttercream border (see gif above for clarification), meeting the piped line of the border.
      • Use your fingers to evenly sprinkle 1/3 cup crushed meringues over the lemon curd.
      • Place the next layer on top and press down gently to make sure that the filling is sealed in all the way around. Repeat steps 2 and 3, and nestle the final cake layer on top.
      • At this point, use your remaining buttercream to frost the cake in its entirety. Sprinkle the frosted cake with the remaining 1/3 cup of crushed meringues and 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.

      Notes

      Inspired by Decorated and Call Me Cupcake