Toasted Meringue Layer Cake

December 17, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Serves 10-12
What You'll Need
  • Sour Cream Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 2/3 cups sour cream
  • 16 ounces (2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) milk or heavy cream, at room temperature
  • Italian Meringue
  • 6 ounces (about 4 large) egg whites
  • 12 ounces (1 3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon) sugar
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Sour Cream Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting
  2. Make the sponge cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar to combine. Place the mixing bowl over a medium pot of barely simmering water, and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is pale and thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Return the bowl to the mixer, fitted with the whip attachment. Whip on high speed until the mixture is very pale and thick; it should double in volume. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine.
  6. Add the sour cream to the mixer and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the flour gradually, mixing just until combined and fully incorporated.
  7. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Allow cakes to cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from pans and allowing to cool completely.
  8. Slice the cakes into layers. Remove any domed part off the top of each cake—you’ll want all your layers to be nice and flat. Then, cut each cake into two layers. I use a serrated knife to slowly “score” the cake in an even line all the way around, then I follow the score marks to make the final cut.
  9. Make the buttercream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat room temperature butter until light and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
  10. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar (to prevent it exploding upward when you turn on the mixer), and mix on medium-low speed to combine. Once all the sugar is added, raise speed to medium-high and cream until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  11. Add vanilla extract or other flavoring and mix to combine. If using milk or cream, pour it in and mix just until incorporated.
  12. Assemble the cake: Place the first layer on a cake stand and top with frosting (I like to use an ice cream scoop so I know how much frosting I'm using for each layer and it stays even). Be sure to fill the frosting all the way to the edge. To achieve this, frost all the way to the edge of the cake layer. When you place the next layer of cake on top, press down slightly—this stabilizes the layer and helps the frosting ooze out a bit more to the edge. Repeat with the remaining layers, ending with a cake layer on top.
  1. Italian Meringue
  2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment.
  3. Combine the sugar and water in a medium pot and stir over medium heat until it comes to a boil. When it begins to boil, stop stirring and attach a candy thermometer to the pot (if any sugar crystals have washed up on the sides, brush them away using a pastry brush dipped in cool water). Continue to cook the syrup until it reaches 240° F (final desired temperature).
  4. As soon as the sugar hits 230° F, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed. The goal is to have the egg whites at soft peaks when the sugar reaches the 240° F.
  5. With the mixer running, add the sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream. Continue to whip on high speed until the mixture reaches stiff peaks and the bowl is no longer noticeably warm to the touch. The meringue should be smooth and glossy, not clumpy or dry.
  6. Beat in the vanilla and mix to combine.
  7. Cover the entirety of your layer cake with the meringue, making as many peaks and swoops as possible.
  8. With a culinary torch, toast the outside of the entire cake until the peaks and swoops become golden brown, or to desired toastiness.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • catherine
  • Linda
  • Terry
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

3 Reviews

Linda January 26, 2020
This cake was a disappointment. Dense and heavy. I have been baking for almost 50 years. Looked spectacular but you could sink a ship with it.
Terry December 27, 2017
oh woe is me! I made this for the holiday. I was so excited because it looked amazing! I love getting out my torch to use, I have so few recipes that I can use it for. Alas - the cake was dense and thick and chewy - not light and fluffy. Help! I want to try again but obviously, the cake has to eat as well as it looks!! I followed the recipe to the letter!
catherine December 22, 2017
How long will this cake last! I want to make it a day ahead. Thanks!