Lemon Meringue Cake

I’ve never tried a lemon meringue pie before….so I decided to make a lemon meringue cake instead.

I know it’s not the same, at all.

But I felt like a lemon meringue cake would be a little more fun. I don’t always love pie crust, so why not replace with cake you know. 

A slice of the lemon meringue cake on a white plate, with the full cake in the background.

Video Tutorial

Lemon meringue cake 

So this cake has 3 parts, the cake, a lemon simple syrup and then the meringue on top.

The cake is essentially a lemon drizzle cake, all I did was get a vanilla cake batter and add some lemon zest to it. Then once it was baked, I poured a lemon syrup over it.

The cake on its own is so light and fluffy. But then once you add the lemon syrup, it ends up being so moist and having such a good lemony flavour.

Then to finish it off, I added a Swiss meringue on top, that I toasted with a blow torch. If you don’t have a blow torch, don’t worry. You could also just use your grill, I’ll talk about how to do this later on in this blog post!

The top of the lemon meringue cake after the toasted Swiss meringue was added.

Ingredients for the cake

Here are the ingredients you are going to need to make the cake:

  • Lemon zest – for flavour. I used the zest from 2 large lemon, but honestly you can use as much as as little lemon zest you want.
  • Granulated sugar – caster sugar works too.
  • Unsalted butter – we’re using self-raising flour for this cake. A lot of self-raising flours already have salt mixed into them, so you want to make sure to use unsalted butter. Otherwise your cake will end up too salty.
  • Vegetable oil – for extra moisture. 
  • Vanilla extract – for flavour.
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk – also for extra moistness.
  • Self-raising flour – I find it easier to just use self-raising flour, since it already has the raising agents in it.
The full cake on a wooden chopping board.

Ingredient substitutions

The oil 

I like to use a mixture of both butter and oil. The butter adds great flavour, the oil adds a lot of moisture.

I used vegetable oil, but any flavourless oil works.

You could leave the oil out if you wanted too. The cake will still taste great, just a little less moist.

If you are leaving it out, use 250g of butter instead of 125g.

The buttermilk

This also adds moisture to the cake. Plain yoghurt is a good substitute or sour cream.

If you don’t have either, regular milk will work too.

The self-raising flour

If don’t have self-raising flour or live in a place where it’s hard to find this kind of flour, plain/all-purpose flour works too.

Just use the same amount but mix 2.5 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into it!

The cake batter inside of a silver cake tin, before being baked.
The cake inside of a silver cake tin, after being baked.

A few tips when making the cake

Rub the lemon zest with the sugar

I’ve been seeing a lot of people do this recently. I was very confused at first, I didn’t understand why people were massaging their sugar.

Turns out this helps with the lemon flavour. As you rub the zest and sugar together, the zest will release its oils. This will infuse the sugar with a nice lemon flavour.

To do this, just use your fingers and rub them together for about 2 minutes!

Cover your cake with tinfoil halfway through baking

This might not be necessary for every oven.

But this cake bakes for a while. I’ve noticed that it gets a little too brown in my oven. So after around 40 minutes, I add some tin foil on top of the in, just to stop the cake from browning even more.

Again, it just depends on your oven. You might not need to do this, just keep an eye on it. If it seems like it is turning brown too quickly, cover it with tinfoil.

Add the syrup whiles the cake is warm

You want to add the syrup to your cake whiles it is still warm. I add it like 10 minutes after I take it out of the oven.

I feel like it just absorbs better whiles the cake is warm.

The lemon meringue cake with a slice taken out of it.

Ingredients for the meringue

We’re making a Swiss meringue for the top of this cake.

It’s pretty easy to make, here are the ingredients you are going to need for it:

  • Egg whites – make sure to use fresh egg whites.
  • Granulated sugar – caster sugar works too.
  • Salt – to help enhance the flavours.
  • Vanilla extract – for flavour.

A few tips 

Use fresh egg whites

The egg whites from a carton don’t whip up as firmly, so fresh is better.

Make sure the bowl you use is very clean

If there is any kind of grease in your bowl, it will stop the egg whites from whipping to firm peaks.

So clean it well before you use it.

Only make the meringue before you’re about to use it

You only want to make it before you’re about to add it onto the cake.

If you make it too soon, the meringue will deflate, and then it will be hard to whip it back into stiff peaks. So only make it once your cake has completely cooled.

Once it is on the cake and has been toasted, then it won’t deflate. It will last at room temperature for a few days.

A slice of the lemon meringue cake being held up.

How to toast the meringue without a blow torch

If you don’t have a blow torch you can still toast the meringue.

All you need to do is turn your grill onto low heat, you might call this a broiler. I’m just talking about the top part of your oven.

Add your cake onto a tray and place it under your grill.

Just leave it to toast under the grill for about 30 seconds or just until it’s a nice golden brown colour.

Keep an eye on this though, the meringue will toast very quickly so don’t walk away!

Here are a few more cake recipes that are just as good as this one:

Lemon Meringue Cake

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  • For the cake:
  • The zest from 2 large lemons

  • 250g granulated sugar

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened

  • 125ml vegetable oil

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 4 eggs

  • 80ml buttermilk

  • 250g self-raising flour

  • For the lemon simple syrup:
  • 100g granulated sugar

  • 50ml lemon juice

  • 50ml water

  • For the Swiss meringue:
  • 4 egg whites

  • 200g granulated sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Making the cake:
  • Start by pre-heating your oven to 180c/350f. Also grease and line an 8 inch cake tin.
  • In a large bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest. Rub these together using your fingers for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the softened butter, oil and vanilla into this and beat on high speed for 5 minutes. If you're making this by hand, just aggressively whisk for as long as you can.
  • Add 2 of the eggs into this and whisk. Then add the remaining 2 eggs, as well as the buttermilk, whisk until incorporated.
  • Now add your flour and whisk just until you get a smooth batter.
  • Pour this batter into your prepared tin and bake for around 1 hour 10 minutes - 1 hour 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. After around 40 minutes, I covered the top of the tin with some tin foil, just to stop the cake from browning too much.
  • Making the lemon simple syrup:
  • Once your cake has baked, make the simple syrup.
  • Add the sugar, water and lemon juice into a pot and give this a stir. Heat this on medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Once it comes to a boil, it is done. Just pour it over your cake, whiles the cake is still warm.
  • Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
  • Making the meringue:
  • Once your cake has cooled completely, make the meringue.
  • In a pot, add some water and place this over medium heat. Let this come to a simmer.
  • In a bowl, mix together the egg whites, sugar and salt. Place this on top of the pot with the simmering water. Make sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl, if it is, pour some of the water out.
  • Keep heating this, whiles stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved. To check this, just rub some of the mixture between your fingers. If you can no longer feel any grains of sugar, it is ready.
  • Take this off the simmering water, then whip it until you get stiff peaks.
  • Putting the cake together:
  • Take your cake out of the tin and place it onto a cake board or plate.
  • Add the meringue on top of it. I piped my meringue onto the cake using a large star tip but you could also just use a spoon to spread it on.
  • Using a blowtorch, gently torch the meringue until it is a nice golden brown colour. If you don't have a blowtorch you can just put the cake under your grill, on low heat, for a few seconds. Keep an eye on this, the meringue can burn quickly.
  • Once toasted, cut into it and enjoy!