Meyer Lemon Sorbet Baked Alaska
It’s completely cliche but it’s always good to do as much as you can when you can so that when the unexpected strikes, you can let it ride and take a breather in a way. I started this post about Meyer Lemon Baked Alaska at the same time I was publishing the last one thinking I was just going to write down the recipe while it was fresh in my head and finish it later, probably on Monday or Tuesday. I should have listened to my brain screaming "Murphy’s Law" loud and clear while I turned on the radio instead.
Of course the unexpected happened. A spider found my right eye very appetizing one night and decided to have a go at it. I am allergic to spider bites. I know, it’s not a life threatening disease and the Earth did not shake when it happened, but eh! that’s my latest adventure!
When I mean "allergic" I am not exaggerating. Ask my friend Jen about the last time I got bit. We were emailing back and forth and I got back from walking the dog only to discover 30 minutes later that my ankle was 3 times its original size. I was home alone and she kept checking on me although it was getting late. She is the best emergency nursing blogger out there! You can imagine that when my eye saga started on Sunday, she was not really shocked to find out it was another spider bite: "aaaah, a spider bite. those little jerks. they LIKE you :)"…Nice.
The eye doctor said that it was probably because my blood was pure sugar by now. If he was trying to score a box of macarons, he was seriously out of luck! So short of working/baking/typing/working, I was just enjoying digging my spoon in Meyer lemon sorbet in baked meringue goodness. At least my fingers weren’t busy thinking about rubbing my eye and I occupied them with another much more fun activity like eating. Nah! (no worries, it’s all getting better now)
I don’t usually make Baked Alaskas for us but a former patron asked if I could come up with a dessert for a small gathering of international students she was hosting. When someone hires me for an event, whether big or small, I do a little bit of research before suggesting a few options. Beside the total number of guests, I like to know about dietary restrictions, likes and dislikes and especially countries of origins and different cultures if any.
Why? I find that it brings a smile on people’s face a lot more times to eat something that makes them jump in a "Oh my! It’s been ages since I have had this". They also love to share with their neighbor or the whole table some family stories or cultural differences. This, to me is a job well done. No one just ate desserts but there were memories associated with it as well as the sharing of information and personalities. Listening to the person next to you is such a personal enrichment at the same time. I am a geeky research freak, what can I say?!
So why, with a group of international students did I chose to make Baked Alaskas? Well, thanks to Wikipedia which pointed it out in better terms than I could: no one knows for sure its country of origin. China? Scandinavia? Norway? France? Perfect to serve to a multi national bunch of hungry students!
I went with lemon sorbet instead of ice cream because I knew the rest of the meal was rather on the heavy side (huge spread of small bites from all over the world). To keep homemade sorbet from getting icy and retain a velvety texture after a couple of days in the freezer, I add some simple syrup or honey to the base before churning it. Does its magic trick every time! The baking part of the meringue once each cake is covered with it can be done in the oven but it was pretty hot at my friend’s house that I used a blow torch instead of turning the heat a notch higher.
One year ago: Cassata Sicilian
Meyer Lemon Sorbet Baked Alaska:
Notes: prepare the cake and sorbet in advance as you will need to use the Italian meringue fairly quickly or it will tend to look "gritty" if applied later. You can apply the Italian meringue and freeze your cakes until ready to use your blow torch or oven (no longer than a day or two otherwise the Italian meringue has a tendency to start "liquifying").
For the lemon poppy seed cake base:
1 1/2 cups (185gr) all purpose flour
1 cup (200gr) sugar
1 tablespoon (14gr) baking powder
1/4 (1.5gr) teaspoon salt
1/2 cup egg whites (about 3-4)
3/4 (175ml) cup milk
1/4 cup (62.5ml) lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon (9gr) poppy seeds
2 oz (60gr) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 oz (60gr) extra virgin olive oil (the fruitier the better)
For the Meyer lemon sorbet:
2 cups (500ml) freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (or regular)
1 cup (100gr) sugar
4 cups (1 liter)water
2 tablespoons mild honey
Prepare the cake base:
Preheat oven to 300F and position a rack on the center. In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients for the cake. Set aside. In a separate bowl combine the egg whites and the milk. Make a well in the center of the flour mix and slowly add in the egg white mixture while stirring with a whisk. Add in the poppy seeds, the melted butter and oil. Mix with a whisk until smooth. Line a quarter sheet pan or a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper, lightly spray with cooking spray and pour in the batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes back clean. Let cool completely.
Prepare the Meyer lemon sorbet:
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the honey and let cool to room temperature.
Pass the lemon juice through a sieve to remove the pulp and add it to the sugar syrup, stirring well to blend.
Pour into the container of an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container and freeze until firm before serving.
For the Italian Meringue frosting:
1 cup (200gr) sugar
2 tablespoons water
100gr egg whites (4 to 5)
Place the sugar and water in a heavy medium saucepan over high heat and let the sugar dissolve and boil to 238F. In the meantime, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks on medium speed. Once the sugar syrup is at the right temperature, slowly pour it over the beaten egg whites on medium-low speed. Increase the speed to high and let the meringue get glossy and completely cooled before using.
Cut out eight 3-inch rounds to fit your cake rings. Cut each cake round in half horizontally. Line 8 cake rings with parchment paper or rhodoid (pastry film, but cut sheet protectors work well too), and place one half cake base at the bottom. Place the cakes on baking tray. Fill each cake ring with about 1/2 cup of lemon sorbet and top with another round of cake. Freeze for at least 30 minutes before applying the meringue. When ready, unmold and frost with the meringue.
If you do the "baked" part in the oven: set your oven on broil at the highest setting and watch carefully.
If using a blow torch: well that’s easier but make sure to have a clear area to work with to prevent burning other things on your countertop (and this is experience speaking!).
Emmanuelle July 22, 2009 um 9:42 pm
Thank you for the wonderful recipe, as always.
I dont have a blog, and that's the first time i post on your site, just wanted to say i sympathize with you for your spider bite, those things scare me to death, and the mere idea that one could crawl on my face is enough to make me faint! I hope your eye is getting better, i wish you a very prompt recovery!
whitneyingram July 22, 2009 um 10:12 pm
Always such a beautiful dessert and so daunting at the same time. But I think the most beautiful dishes are always the most daunting.
And hey, you should share your bad experience with a blow torch!
Julia @ Mélanger July 22, 2009 um 10:15 pm
This looks delicious. I think I would echo, "it's been ages since I've had this". Sorry about the bite. We have nasty spiders here in Australia so am completely afraid when venturing outdoors at times. Hope you get better soon! 🙂
Rose July 22, 2009 um 10:30 pm
In the eye!? Ah! I am allergic to spider bites as well – not very fun at all.
I've never had a baked alaska, oddly enough! However, that tip on the sorbet is something I have been seeking since we made ice-y honeydew sorbet (not very appealing).
Your blog is such a wealth of good recipes, great photographs & helpful tips. Thank you for being an inspiration!
maybelles mom July 22, 2009 um 11:47 pm
Oh, dear, it sounds painful and annoying. But as another research geek, glad that you decided on the baked alaskas. Delish.
Abby July 22, 2009 um 11:50 pm
I've always wondered how difficult these are to make, and I know mine would never be as gorgeous as yours! But I might just try it one of these days. It may not have a clear country of origin, but it always seems so American to me for some reason!
And now I'm wondering if I get spider bites all the time that I don't know about. Yee-ow. Hope you're all better now!
Char July 23, 2009 um 12:24 am
sounds so delish and refreshing too
Keithgarrick July 23, 2009 um 1:25 am
Great article thanx for sharing.
Kitchen Corner July 23, 2009 um 1:32 am
Very presentable desserts! Very very pretty!
Cheri July 23, 2009 um 2:37 am
Man, am I ever digging this. It has been killer hot today.. and I am really wishing I could dig into one of these right about now. They look awesome!
♥peachkins♥ July 23, 2009 um 4:48 am
I haven't had baked alaska yet but it looks yummy!
Rosa's Yummy Yums July 23, 2009 um 5:09 am
A delightful dessert! Really mouthwatering and so refined!
shaz July 23, 2009 um 5:22 am
Whoa! What a freaky place for a spider bite! Hope you're recovering well. Never had a baked alaska before either (don't like ice-cream) but a sorbet version sounds awesome 🙂
ChichaJo July 23, 2009 um 5:45 am
What pretty looking Baked Alaskas! And delicious flavor and filling! Hope your eye is feeling better!
Marc @ NoRecipes July 23, 2009 um 6:18 am
I hope your eye is doing better. How do you get meyer lemons this time of year? I'm working a vegetarian dinner party for 20 in august and was thinking it would be nice to use meyer lemons in a few of the dishes.
Will totally have to add the simple syrup trick to my bag of tricks Thanks!
Oh yea, and this looks amazing as usual!
kamran siddiqi July 23, 2009 um 6:24 am
Do you know what time it is over here? 2:19 AM and I am reading your blog and getting super hungry. Helen you are my hero! You don't let anything hold you against creating art. I cannot wait to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing it with us. Hope the eye is getting better.
Y July 23, 2009 um 6:51 am
Yikes. Well I don't know if I'm allergic to spider bites but I hope I never have to find out! Hope your eye gets better soon! This lemon baked alaska sounds so refreshing. We got Meyer lemons in at work the other day but I haven't had a chance to check them out yet.
morgana July 23, 2009 um 7:40 am
Mmmmmm. Amazing. Lemon is so atractive now, with this hot july…
Hope your eye is perfect by now. I understand you so well… My bood seems to be too sweet too, the favorite drink for spanish mosquitos though I'm not allergic (thanks to God). My sister was allergic and each time a mosquito decided to have my sister's blood for dinner she ended with a little mountain in her arm or leg or… well, eye.
Mélanie July 23, 2009 um 9:58 am
I've never had a baked alaska, but it looks very good. Especially with meyer lemon sorbet. Do you know if there's any way to find them (the lemons) in Paris?
Glad your eye is better. It must really be disturbing…
And very nice new header! I like the under-title "on the sweet side of life"…
veron July 23, 2009 um 12:23 pm
Hope your eye feels better. I had some sort of bite one time on the side of my face and it bulged so much it was painful. Never made baked alaska before- this looks wonderful and thanks for doing the research!
Valérie July 23, 2009 um 2:38 pm
Oh, dear… I also have strong reactions to insect bites in general – not to your extent, but still, I sympathize. (Plus, I hate spiders)
I love your attitude when catering to events, it's so thoughtful to do research and think of the most appropriate dessert possible. I'm sure people appreciate it!
Had I been to this party, I would have been able to tell the story of the only time I tried making baked Alaska. It was one of my very first baking attempts, and it was a complete disaster. But yours, of course, looks wonderful!
wix July 23, 2009 um 3:09 pm
Aaahhh sorry to hear about your eye! Hope it's all better.
This is kind of gross, but once my ankles swelled up from too much sugar over one weekend. Maybe the baked goods potluck was a bad idea…
Erin July 23, 2009 um 3:21 pm
My goal is to learn to be this creative with desserts. How beautiful!
Barbara July 23, 2009 um 3:28 pm
Your photographs, as usual, are gorgeous and mouth-watering. Love Baked Alaska and love the idea of the individual ones.
As far as spider bites are concerned, I had a spider drop on my back and sting me while eating dinner on St. Lucia. It swelled up and I kid you not, did not entirely heal for 5 months.
Darina July 23, 2009 um 3:40 pm
These look delicious. A truly modern take on the retro baked alaskas that I've seen. They look too pretty to eat. I hope your eye is getting better.
miche July 23, 2009 um 3:43 pm
in this hot season, the sorbet is what we need, your blog is really fantastic .. kiss
Jen Yu July 23, 2009 um 4:14 pm
We email each other so much that when I look at your posts, I think I've already commented! 😉 I have never seen a more beautiful baked Alaska. Your attention to detail is something to cherish. I don't think I could cut into it either, it's so perfect… okay, well – twist my arm! 🙂 Glad your eye is better. Keep away from the spiders, no? xxoo
Rachael Hutchings July 23, 2009 um 4:17 pm
Oh great, I probably ruined yet another keyboard by drooling on it. I really need to be careful about that when making my Tartelette visits. You poor thing! I hate spiders and now I REALLY HATE spiders. Nasty little creatures. Next time I see one I'm going to smoosh it with extra violence just for you. Thank you for that homemade sorbet/simple syrup trick/tip, I'm totally going to try that! GET BETTER SOON!
Poorni Pillai July 23, 2009 um 4:22 pm
ooooh, hope your eye is better. This dessert looks like a force of nature! 🙂
Rae Grant July 23, 2009 um 4:50 pm
Manggy July 23, 2009 um 5:49 pm
Oh dear, sorry to hear about your eye and your ankle! I'm glad you're all better now.
I've never had a baked alaska before, but I'm afraid to make one because it might melt the second I take it out of the freezer 😛 Thanks for sharing your secrets to preparing it for service!
jbl July 23, 2009 um 9:08 pm
Absolutely beautiful. Nicely done. And for the record your eye doctor sounds like a jerk!
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
SF50 July 23, 2009 um 9:59 pm
Ahhh! This looks amazing. I am on a whole lemon THING lately. And why don't more people make baked Alaska anymore, anyway? It's so fantastically kitschy and delicious with a huge wow factor. Great work!
DJ July 23, 2009 um 10:07 pm
Hope your eye gets better Helen! The baked alaska looks fabulous.
La Cuisine d'Helene July 23, 2009 um 10:41 pm
Oh non, vraiment désolée à propos de l'araignée. Mais quel magnifique sorbet. Je n'ai jamais goûté à ce dessert.
jillian July 23, 2009 um 10:53 pm
This looks so incredible!! Oh and spiders are my greatest fear.
Helene July 23, 2009 um 11:18 pm
Marc: a friend in SF sent them to me a couple of weeks ago!
Helene: vite, vite! Il faut y remedier!!
jbl: he meant it in a good way. I am happy my blood is figuratively all sugar!
Lori July 24, 2009 um 1:41 am
I too think you are so sweet. Not just the sugar but your disposition! That little spider was trying to sweeten himself up.
And by the way that sucks! Having an eye swollen.
And the Baked Alaska- ah yum. I only had it once, during our honeymoon so it brings back nice memories for me.
If I could have picked any profession I wanted, and not have had to worry about pay- I would have become a sociologist. Which I guess is why I became a social worker instead. Okay so like the pay is not that much better there either.
Daniela Restrepo July 24, 2009 um 3:59 am
Yeah yeah cakes and stuff is nice, but I just wanted to say that the photography on this website is utterly mindblowing!
Cannelle Et Vanille July 24, 2009 um 10:40 am
i bet they loved it. so refreshing! i'm in a lemon kind of mood too!
lubnakarim06 July 24, 2009 um 1:51 pm
Oh wow…..looks awesome…….very delightful….
Kelly-Jane July 24, 2009 um 4:42 pm
They look like a lovely summery alaska.
I do hope you bite gets beter soon, sounds horrible for you.
Is there somewhere I can pre-order your baking book coming of in the Autumn please? Looking forward to it already 🙂
alice July 24, 2009 um 5:40 pm
i worked at a catering company before and their baked alaska was a trainwreck in comparison. this looks so incredibly delicious!
Toni July 24, 2009 um 9:50 pm
Simply fantastic! I love your style of photography! You clearly take a lot of time and care into each one of the shots. Bravo!
Love the retro idea of Baked Alaskas!
Ria Mathew July 25, 2009 um 6:00 am
Wow! now that is a piece of are! Looks very delicious! 🙂
Andrea [bella eats] July 25, 2009 um 2:32 pm
Oh, how beautiful! I love the Meyer Lemon touch, simply delicious!
Unknown July 25, 2009 um 3:56 pm
YOur photography is always amazing! Keep it up!
pigpigscorner July 25, 2009 um 9:35 pm
Your eye?! Ouch. Wonderful creation and great pictures!
Celia July 26, 2009 um 6:31 am
Made this yesterday and all the components turned out prefectly! It was truly delicious!
Anonymous July 26, 2009 um 6:22 pm
CAN I MOVE IN AND BE YOUR KITCHEN WITCH AND
CLEAN UP AFTER YOU MAKE ALL THESE FABULOUS DESSERTS…..TOO DIE FOR LEMON TREATS, YUM
Jaime July 27, 2009 um 5:08 am
Those are just gorgeous!
Patricia Scarpin July 27, 2009 um 6:09 pm
Oh, Helen! What a terrible thing! Are you feeling 100% better now, honey? I hope so – I'm terrified of bugs in general and spiders freak me out…
I've never tried nor made baked alaskas and these are tempting – I should try it, too!
Nutmeg Nanny July 28, 2009 um 3:28 am
Mmmmm yummy and refreshing!!!
Engineer Baker July 30, 2009 um 9:40 am
Well, I'm glad that your eye is probably almost back to normal by now (stupid work getting in the way of stopping by here!), but I hope your back is improving! I've never had Baked Alaska, but that does look like one wonderful version of it.
Kristen August 26, 2009 um 3:55 pm
It really doesn't get any more beautiful than this. Lovely!