Lemon Meringue Roulade or cake roll consists of a supremely moist sponge cake filled with homemade lemon curd and covered with swirls of torched meringue. I love it served as a yule log for Christmas, but it also makes an amazing refreshing dessert to end a lovely summer dinner.
A roulade can be served any time of the year really, but in France it is strongly connected to Christmas. This sponge cake baked in a flat pan before being rolled around a filling is indeed the base of the traditional yule log (or “bûche de Noël” in French). And while the classic version usually combines a basic sponge cake and a chocolate buttercream inside and out, French people always try to get creative around the original recipe, with brand new versions every year.
I, myself, shared a few yule log recipes over the years, such as the Coconut Tropical Fruit Cake Roll, the Chocolate Orange Yule Log, or the Chocolate Mango Yule Log. And here I am again, with a second edition of my lemon meringue roulade, that comes with a few improvements of the original recipe shared in 2016, more detailed instructions and brand new photos.
What is lemon meringue roulade?
A roulade consists of a cake (often a sponge cake) baked in a flat pan, and then rolled around a filling. Also called a Swiss roll, its baking principles are identic to the ones used for a yule log, with the exception that it doesn’t need to look like bark.
Here, the traditional French Christmas dessert meets the classic Lemon Meringue Pie, resulting in a lemon meringue roulade. The pie is replaced with the sponge cake rolled over a lemon curd filling, and topped with a sumptuous torched Italian meringue and its golden swirls.
Prepare the lemon curd
Important Note : You need to make the lemon curd filling ahead by a day. I usually prepare it the day before, refrigerate overnight and use it the next day.
There are various lemon curd recipes out there, but in this version I replaced butter with white chocolate. The result is rich, silky-smooth, a little sweeter than the original version and not too tart.
Can I use a classic lemon curd recipe instead? Absolutely! If you want your dessert to be a little bit more tart, I recommend you go for my homemade lemon curd recipe, that works a wonder in any dessert of your choice. In any case, I do not recommend ready-to-use lemon curd, often packed with artificial food coloring and/or flavors.
How to avoid lumps in lemon curd? One way to guard against lumps in your lemon curd is to stir the eggs and sugar together thoroughly before adding the lemon juice. If however you already have lumps, you can simply blend your lemon curd with a hand mixer until smooth.
The roulade base: a sponge cake
You need just a few basic ingredients to make the roulade or cake roll:
- Eggs, whites and yolks apart
- All-purpose flour
A perfect sponge cakes has a light, airy and fluffy texture, and comes in a pale color. In order to achieve such a result, you need to start whipping egg whites until fluffy but not firm yet, and then slowly add the other ingredients in the order described in the recipe card (sugar, egg yolks, flour and cornstarch). For best results, make sure you sift the flour before using. Also, the use of cornstarch results in a lighter cake.
Baking tips. Because the cake is flat and thin, chances are it will bake quickly, usually around 8 minutes. That being said, every oven is different so I recommend you do regular checks to make sure you achieve the desired result: pale in color, supple in texture, and in no way over-baked and/or dry.
Tips to rolling the cake like a pro:
- Place a damp towel over the sponge cake right after you remove it from the oven to keep it moist and supple.
- Brush the surface with syrup right out from the oven to add some moisture and help shaping the roulade.
- Once you spread out the filling, use a damp towel to roll the cake tightly on the shorter side, and place in the refrigerator to help keep its shape.
I also like to slice the extremities (one slice on each side) to make a lovely finish-up touch and ensure none of the guests will get the so-so slice!
A beautiful Italian meringue topping
Italian meringue is always my favorite. I love its sumptuous and silky-smooth texture that creates the most impressive cakes visually. It’s a technique I use very often in my dessert recipes and I pride myself of have becoming quite of an expert over the years.
My best tips for Italian meringue consists of using a thermometer, a cooking torch, and a stand mixer running on itself while you’re preparing the syrup. When your syrup reaches 230°F (110°C), start beating the whites in a stand mixer. When they are foamy but not yet firm, and your syrup reaches 240°F (115°C), very gradually stream the hot sugar syrup into your egg whites as they continue to whip on low to medium speed. Once you’ve added all of the syrup, increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and continue mixing until the meringue reaches stiff peaks.
What if I have no thermometer? Heat the syrup and instead of measuring the temperature, watch out carefully until it forms large white bubbles. Then, plunge a drop of syrup into a glass filled with cold water. If a soft ball forms, the syrup is ready. If not, heat a little longer and do the test again.
The finish: torched swirls. Slightly brown your meringue swirls with a hand-held torch, in order to give them a beautiful white and golden aspect. If you don’t have a torch, you can also brown the finished recipe in the oven by baking or using the broiler until slightly golden, but keep in mind that the final result won’t be as impressive and sumptuous as it is with a torch.
Sumptuous desserts for special occasions:
- Chocolate Mandarin Meringue Layer Cake
- Chocolate Coffee Meringue Pie
- Pretzel Chocolate Brownie Meringue Pie
- Chocolate Orange Cake Roll with Candied Hazelnuts
- Decadent Chocolate Chestnut Fondant
And for the citrus lovers…
- Best Ever Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
- Orange Pound Cake
- Orange Crème Brûlée Tart
- To go further, make sure you check The Best Lemon Dessert Recipes.
Lastly, if you make this Lemon Meringue Roulade, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating, letting me know how you liked it. And of course, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Thank you and enjoy!Print
Lemon Meringue Roulade or cake roll consists of a supremely moist sponge cake filled with homemade lemon curd and covered with swirls of torched meringue.
For the lemon curd*:
- ¾ cup (180 ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup (70g) caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup (180g) white chocolate, chopped
For the sponge cake:
- 4 eggs, whites and yolks apart
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- ¾ cup (90g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
For the syrup:
- 1 Tablespoon (15g) caster sugar
- 1 lemon, juice
For the Italian meringue:
- 1/2 cup (100ml) water
- 1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
- 2 egg whites
For the lemon curd (the day before):
- In a small saucepan, stir together lemon juice, zests, sugar and eggs, and warm on low-medium heat until the mixture thickens, stirring regularly.
- Melt white chocolate in a water bath or in the microwave until smooth.
- Pour the lemon mixture over the melted white chocolate in 3 additions, stirring with a rubber spatula as you go, until smooth and fully incorporated.
- Pour into a bowl, cover with cling film, and store in the refrigerator overnight.
For the sponge cake:
- Preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C) and line a 12.25×8.125-inch (31×20.5 cm) baking sheet with parchment paper.
- With an electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. While the mixer is still on, slowly pour in the sugar and egg yolks. Fold in the sifted flour and cornstarch.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet and smooth out the surface. Bake for about 8-10 minutes. The sponge cake must be supple and moist.
- Remove from the oven, cover with a damp towel and invert the sponge cake so it sits on the towel.
- Brush the surface with lemon-sugar syrup to moister the cake, then spread the lemon curd over the sponge cake.
- Roll the cake on the shorter side, and wrap it tightly in a towel. Store in the refrigerator for about 1 hour or longer while you prepare the meringue.
For the Italian meringue:
- Add water and sugar in a small saucepan, and heat the syrup to 240°F (115°C) without stirring.**
- When the syrup reaches 230°F (110°C), start beating the whites in a stand mixer. When they are foamy but not yet firm, very gradually stream the hot sugar syrup into your egg whites as they continue to whip on low to medium speed. Once you’ve added all of the syrup, increase the mixer speed to medium-high. Continue mixing until the meringue reaches stiff peaks.
- Remove the towel around the sponge cake, and transfer to a serving tray, while leaving the joint on the bottom part. Cut the extremities about ½-inch (1,5 cm) from the edges.
- Cover with the Italian meringue, and use a tablespoon to make some swirls, or a piping bag to make even prettier swirls on the roulade.***
- Gently brown with a hand held torch to create golden swirls.****
* Alternatively, you can use this homemade lemon curd recipe. Both versions work just fine, the difference is only that the one suggested in the recipe involve white chocolate while the other one doesn’t.
** To make Italian meringue without thermometer: heat the syrup and watch out carefully until it forms large white bubbles. Then, plunge a drop of syrup into a glass filled with cold water. If a soft ball forms, the syrup is ready. If not, heat a little longer and do the test again.
*** You can store Italian meringue in the refrigerator for up to 30 minutes before using.
**** If you don’t have a cooking torch, which remains the best way to obtain a sumptuous golden shapes, place the roulade covered with meringue in the oven on grill position until extremities start to golden. This process can be ready within seconds, so make sure you stay near-by or you risk to destroy the entire cake.
Important note: This recipe was originally shared in December 2016 and upgraded with new photos and a few recipe instructions improvements by 2020.
Keywords: Lemon Meringue Roulade