Featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. "Best of Show" in the State Fair of Texas 2009 cake contest. Susan Apple Graass - Dallas, Texas
Cake: 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 T. baking powder, 1 t. salt, 1 cup vegetable shortening, 2 cups whole milk yogurt, 2 cups sugar, 6 separated, 2 T. lemon zest
Glaze: 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 6 lemon peels(leftover after juicing lemons)
Lemon curd filling: 1 t. unflavored gelatin, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/8 t.salt, 10 egg yolks, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
Icing: 2 pounds confectioners' sugar, 1/4 to 1/3 cup Limoncello, 1 pound room temperature unsalted butter, 1 pound crisco®, 1 t. salt, 1 t. vanilla
Meringue garnish: 4 room temperature egg whites, 1/2 t. cream of tartar, 1/2 cup plus 1 T. superfine sugar, 1 cup confectioners' sugar
Cake: Preheat oven to 350º. Grease 3, 3 X 8-inch round cake pans, place 3, 8" parchment paper rounds in the pans; set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. In another bowl, whisk the vegetable oil, yogurt, sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into the cake mixture. Pour into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on racks. Invert cakes onto racks and cool completely.
Glaze: Stir water, sugar, and lemon peels in a small saucepan over medium. Heat until sugar dissolves, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, and strain. Set aside.
Lemon curd filling: In a small cup, sprinkle the gelatin over 1 T. lemon juice; set aside. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot but not boiling. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, slowly add about 1/2 to 1 cup of the hot lemon mixture to the egg yolks; whisk together. Return the egg yolk/lemon mixture to the original mixture, stirring occasionally heat until the mixture reaches 170º. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the gelatin/lemon juice mixture; blend until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in the butter. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Press a plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours.
Meringue: Preheat oven to 200. Place a Silpatº in a jelly roll pan; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until frothy, add the cream of tartar, continue beating. Continue beating and gradually add the sugar. Beat until the whites are stiff and glossy, but not dry. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar. Spread onto the prepared pan. Bake for 2 hours or until dry but not brown. Set aside. Cool.
Icing: Add the confectioners' sugar, Limoncello, salt, and vanilla to the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk until thick like a pancake batter. Add the butter and shortening, continue whisking until the mixture is thick and creamy, scraping down the sides occasionally.
Assembling the cake: Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate, brush with the glaze, spread 1/2 of the lemon curd on top, Repeat with the second cake layer. Place the third cake layer on top of the cake. Spread a generous amount of icing on the top and sides of the cake. Smooth out the icing. Break pieces of the meringue chips and decorate the top and sides of the cake with them.