I can think of at least three songs that mentioned lemons and lemon trees from the top of my head. Small wonder since it is one of those rare fruit trees that seems generous in excess when it feels like it. Some lemon trees just don’t produce a single thing whereas others are a miracle of constant fruits hanging from its branches. All year long!
We used to have such a tree in the garden and it was fantastic to just pop out and grab one when in need. My sister in law even built an extension on her house around the existing lemon tree but if you had seen this one you would probably have done the same. Lemons have saved more lives through history than penicillin, without the data to back it up, you are just going to have to take my word for it. Its very high vitamin C content was the antidote for the scurvy which was a lot more prevalent that you may think, specially in countries were citrus fruits don’t thrive and the winters are long and hard.
Squeezing a lemon juice into warm water and have it first thing in the morning is a sure way to boost your inmune system, it has become very popular in social media to recommend such practice as a way to live 100 years. I don’t know about the longevity, but it has proven benefits, with the only caveat of the acidity in your teeth, so it is better drank through a straw.
If you want to make it sweeter, this cake is actually a really way of doing it. It has high amounts of lemon juice although vitamin is highly sensitive to heat so cooking it for a long time will destroy its content. The meringue is made with egg white, or aquafava if you are vegan and thus very high in protein. It has an artificial sweetener I normally wouldn’t use, Splenda, but it is the only sweetener I have found that has the right texture for a meringue. To compensate, the amount is has is less than half of the sugar the cake would normally take. If you prefer, you can use warm honey to sweeten it.
For the pastry
– 225g wholemeal flour
– 175g butter/margerine
– 2 tbsp xylitol
– 1 egg
For the lemon layer
– 4 lemons, finely grated zest & juice
– 40g corn flour
– 150g birch sugar
– 4 egg yolks
For the meringue topping
– 4 egg whites (remaining)
– 3/4 tbs splenda/honey/agave
– 1 tsp corn flour
To make the mix the flour and butter in a food processor if you have one and blend together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs you can do this by hand too. Add the birch sugar, egg and one tablespoon of water and mix again again until combined to a ball.
On a work surface roll the dough to a 3mm thick sheet. Transfer it to line a 20cm loose-bottomed tin. Cover in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Take the pastry-lined tin out of the fridge and trim the excess pastry. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the beans and parchment and bake for another five minutes.
Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 170C.
For the filling, mix the lemon zest and juice with the cornflour and stir to form a paste. Add 300 ml of water into a small cooking pot and bring to the boil. Add the lemon cornflour mixture to the hot water and stir until the mixture has thickened, then remove from the heat. In a bowl mix together the birch sugar and egg yolks and add them to the lemon mixture in the pan. Stir over a medium heat until thickened.
For the meringue, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisker until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the Splenda one tbsp at the time, and try it for sweetness, still whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and whisk again.
Spoon on top of the filled pastry case and spread the meringue to cover the lemon filling. Get creative to create a swirl on the top of the meringue.
Toast the top of the meringue with a burner. Allow to cool completely before serving.