Lemon Refrigerator Cake

December 10, 2010

When I was talking on the phone to Mama, planning our Big Fat Greek Thanksgiving menu, I told her that I was kind of at a loss where dessert was concerned. Actually, I’m always at a loss where dessert is concerned, which is why I usually try to saddle my guests with that burden. If you’re ever coming to my house for dinner, bring dessert, okay? Otherwise, you won’t get any.

“Baklava is the obvious choice,” I told Mama, “but I don’t really like it.”

“Baklava is nasty, disgusting stuff,” she said. “Dad hates it and so do I–too sweet.”

“Okay, that’s a strong vote for no Baklava. So what do we do? Pumpkin pie seems ridiculous.”

“Any kind of pie sort of seems ridiculous, don’t you think?”

Good point.

“This is stressing me out,” I told Mama. “You just pick something and bring it.”

That’s me: first-class responsibility shirker.

When Mama arrived on Thanksgiving, bearing an ancient, battle-worn 9×13 cake tin that we’ve owned as long as I’ve walked the Earth, I knew we were in for some sort of brownie or sheet cake.  However, when I peeked inside and saw puffy clouds of white and yellow, I got excited.

“You brought the Lemon Angel Food ThingamaBob! Awesome!”

And it is awesome. White Trash Motherlode Awesome.

I cut my teeth on this cake; it was a North Dakota church social staple. It’s not even technically a cake–although I think back then they referred to it as an “icebox cake.”  An icebox cake is basically a bunch of ingredients thrown together, chilled and then cut into wedges. It’s tastier than it sounds, I promise.

One thing I really like about Lemon Angel Food ThingamaBob–besides the fact that it’s lemon–is that it’s light as air. This is the perfect antidote to a heavy meal. You’ll feel like you’re eating fluffy,  citrus-y clouds.

Even my girls, who are notoriously picky eaters, gobbled this down (sans nuts and cherry).  The next time you have a heavy meal and a crowd to serve, try this. It’s White Trash Awesome.

Lemon Refrigerator Cake

serves a crowd

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin, such as Knox

1/4 cup cold water

3/4 cup sugar

6 egg yolks, beaten

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/4 teaspoons grated lemon zest

6 egg whites

1/4 cup sugar

1 large purchased Angel Food cake

Whipped cream or whipped topping

Soften gelatin in cold water, about 5-10 minutes. Combine egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Cook in a double boiler (or in a large bowl set over simmering water) until the mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon. Remove from the heat and add the softened gelatin; stir until dissolved. Cool until partially thickened.

Beat the egg whites until stiff; beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Fold the egg white mixture into the lemon custard mixture. Tear cake into bite-sized pieces; set aside half of the cake pieces.  Layer remaining cake pieces in a 9×13-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour half of custard mixture over cake. Layer remaining cake pieces over and top with the rest of the custard.

Chill at least 3 hours or until firm. Top with whipped cream or whipped topping and, if desired, chopped toasted nuts.

***If you’re feeling cheeky, check out this post from Bryan about his…ahem…Dealer. Naughty boy.

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