drinksentertainingfoodFood & Drinkin the kitchen withkristina gillrecipes

in the kitchen with: aran goyoaga

by Grace Bonney

This week’s recipe for a Lemon Curd and Buttermilk Panna Cotta Cake comes from Aran Goyoaga, pastry-chef, food stylist, photographer and author of the Cannelle Et Vanille blog. Just back from the International Conference on Food Styling and Photography, sponsored by Boston University Gastronomy Program, Aran was very eager to make good on what she learned. Judging by her submission, I’d say she was a star performer at the conference! For us, she has chosen to produce a delicate citrus-y summer dessert that might be a bit more complicated than what we’re used to seeing here on the column, but the satisfaction you’ll get out of it is directly proportional to your effort! (Ok, it will be just as fabulous for you even if you already know how to do meringue) For those of you who may need a few tips, we promise Aran will stay close by to answer any questions you may have! –Kristina

About Aran: Originally from the Basque Country, Aran Goyoaga has been living in the US for 10 years, where she works as a freelance pastry chef, food stylist, photographer and writer. She comes from a large family of pastry chefs, but she did not get started in pastry until she left her parents home. She studied business and economics, but left that field to pursue a career in baking and food styling. She is the mother of a 3-year-old boy and is dedicated to her freelancing business.

CLICK HERE for the full recipes after the jump!

Lemon Curd and Buttermilk Panna Cotta Cake

Makes an 8”x2” cake ring (it can be taller too)

Baked Meringue Sticks

100 grams egg whites (3.5 ounces or a little under half a cup)
100 grams sugar (1/2 cup)
100 grams powdered sugar, sifted (1 cup)

Whip the egg whites until a light meringue forms. Slowly add in the sugar while mixing. Continue to mix to stiff peaks.

Fold in the powdered sugar.

Place the meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a number 5 plain tip. Pipe straight lines of meringue on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake the meringues in a very low oven, about 200F until crispy, about an hour. Keep them in an airtight container to stop them from becoming soggy.

Lemon and almond sponge cake

100 grams almond paste (a little under 1/2 cup)
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
20 grams flour (heaping tablespoon)
½ tsp baking powder
40 grams butter, melted and cooled (3 tablespoons)

In a bowl of a kitchen mixer, place the almond paste and soften it using the paddle attachment. It might take a couple of minutes to break it down a little bit.

Add the lemon zest.

Add one egg at a time and continue mixing with the paddle attachment until it becomes a smoother paste and there are no large lumps of almond paste.

Switch to a whip attachment and whip until thick and pale in color. It will take about 3-5 minutes.

Add the flour and baking powder and slowly mix. Add the melted butter and mix only until combined.

Place the cake ring on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Pour the batter into it and spread it evenly with a small offset spatula.

Bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes or until top is lightly golden. Let it cool completely and then remove the ring. Set aside.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

250 ml heavy cream (1 cup)
55 grams sugar (1/4 cup plus one teaspoon)
2 sheets of gelatin
125 ml buttermilk (1/2 cup)

Wash the cake ring and place it on a sheet pan lined with a silicon mat. If your cake ring is not completely level and any liquid might leak out, you might want to wrap the bottom of the ring with plastic film.
In a medium saucepan, heat the heavy cream and the sugar until hot but not boiling. In the meantime, soften the gelatin in ice water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out excess water from the gelatin and add it to the hot cream. Let the cream cool to lukewarm, and then mix in the buttermilk.
Pour the panna cotta into the ring and bring this to the freezer. Freeze until solid, about 2-3 hours. When solid, remove the cake ring and wash it, we will need it to assemble the cake.

Lemon Curd

3 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
100 grams sugar (1/2 cup)
160 grams lemon juice (2/3 cup)
1 sheet of gelatin
150 grams butter, cut into small cubes (still slightly cold) (10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons)

Whisk the eggs, lemon zest and sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice. Place the bowl over a water bath and whisk constantly until it thickens. It will start to make ribbons.

In the meantime, have the gelatin softening in ice water. Squeeze out excess water and when curd has thickened, add the gelatin to the bowl.

Strain this curd through a fine sieve into a clean bowl.

Using a submersion blender, start mixing the curd and adding the small pieces of butter. The curd will start to change in color and become lighter. Add all the butter and continue to mix it while doing it.

Now we are ready to assemble the cake.

Assemble the Cake

Line the inside of the cake circle with acetate or parchment paper. Note: I ended up cutting the cake into squares so I didn’t line the ring with anything., simply used a knife to cut the edges.

Place the cake ring on a sheet pan. Insert the almond and lemon sponge on the bottom of the ring.

Spread about a third of the lemon curd over the sponge and spread it evenly with an offset spatula.

Then place the frozen buttermilk panna cotta circle on top of the lemon curd and press gently. Spread the rest of the lemon curd on top of the panna cotta. Refrigerate or freeze the entire cake until set.

Decorate with baked meringue sticks, candied lemon zest and chopped pistachios.


portrait by karen mordechai

Why I choose this recipe:
I was flipping through Claire Clark’s “Indulge” a few weeks ago and saw her lemon meringue mini pie, which created a craving for something really light and lemony. We love anything creamy and lemony in my family. Then when I was approached by Design*Sponge for this feature, that mini pie became the inspiration for this recipe, which I thought it would be perfect for the summer heat.

Suggested For You


  • How wonderful! I have had the great pleasure of tasting some oh her creations, I am always blown away and how beautiful she puts flavors together and her her wonderful talent as a photographer and stylist! the best part is she is kind!

  • A little help. In the Lemon Curd recipe ingredients, there is no butter listed, but the recipe instructs “adding the small pieces of butter. The curd will start to change in color and become lighter. Add all the butter and continue to mix it while doing it.” Did someone omit something from the recipe list?

  • I’m a faithful reader of aran’s blog and I once emailed her , thinking she is just too busy to answer back , but I emailed her anyways and asked her help in her experience of starting this type of business.. well guess what? She Answered right away!! not one email.. but two or three back and forth! I love you Aran ! you are so sweet and you deserve the best!

  • That does sound delicious and yes, it might take me years to get around to even know meringue!
    I didn’t even know there was a Food Styling Conference! Would have loved to hear her speak!
    What does she write and where is her business located?

  • i prefer to leave baking to the professionals but i always enjoy visiting aran’s blog to stare at her incredible photos and daydream that i could make one of her recipes one day.

  • Simply superb recipes. Just visited
    yr site. I appreciate the photography as well as Lemon Curd recipe. So delicious and inspiring. Thanks so much.

    Ileen Raman, India

  • Is there a way to make this recipe without nuts – for us nut allergy ladies? Any ideas? Could I just leave the almond paste out?

  • The photography looks fantastic enough to make my mouth water. I’d love to know if the drinks are plain lemonade or something special. I didn’t see a link for their recipe. Is there one?

  • Thank you everyone for your kind words. It was a pleasure to create and photograph a dessert for this column that inspires me so much week after week.

    To answer some of your questions…

    Shannan- you can definitely use rice flour in the sponge recipe instead of wheat flour and everything else is gluten free so it’s easy!

    Sarah- i think that amount was left out when they were copying my recipe. it is 150 grams of butter cut into cubes.

    Antonia- I didn’t speak at the conference in Boston, I was an attendee. It was great!

    Thank you again everyone. I appreciate all the comments.

  • I am a horrible baker, but need a recipe for a summer party next weekend. I am crazy enough to try this recipe this week…the pics are absolutely delicious. I can’t live without this dessert. Wish me luck!

  • Wow, they look delicious! Even I have had the same experiecne with Aran as how Room Design stated. She is very very kind!! Love her and her work!! :) WTG Aran!

    BTW, is that Aran’s pic?

  • Thank you for featuring the amazing talent of Aran, she is amazing!
    Can you please add the butter quantites as would love to recreate this myself.

  • More complicated than I would like to try and unfortunately, meringue tends to get “gummy” in the Florida humidity…unless Aran knows a trick for that.

  • Well done Aran! How wonderful this recipe is ! I love the sponge cake base, almond and lemon are perfect together. I want to try this lemon curd. How much butter should we add for this recipe ?
    Is the book “Indulge” a must to have?
    Thanks a lot!

  • Absolutely breathtaking and inspiring as always, Aran’s work is superb!
    FYI for you baker’s out there I have just discovered REAL buttermilk made by Kate’s of Maine, it is DELICIOUS and is made the proper, old fashioned way.

  • @Esther – yes, it is just lemonade, so no recipe…

    @Ebony and @Sha – the recipe has been updated to include the butter where it was missing.

  • Carolann- yes, just use any other cake recipe you like, add lots of lemon to it, spread it on the sheet pan the same way to get a thin sponge and build the rest of the cake the same way. hope you try it!

    Esther- the drinks are made with lemon juice, a hint of sugar and sparkling water. so refreshing!

    Gisela- glad that worked!

    Ria- yes, that is me!

    Bernie- I live in FL too and it works fine as long as you keep your meringue well wrapped. I just keep it in the same sheet pan and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. They last up to a week like that no problem.

    Sha- It’s 150 grams butter. I love Indulge although this recipe isn’t from there. These are my own recipes.

    Thank you everyone! I love reading your comments!

  • Aran never ceases to amaze & is infinitely talented. Her blog & creations are like a breath of fresh air…dessert nirvana! I ♥ everything she creates…it’s pure magic!

  • You did a great job, it looks just like mine! I am always delighted to be a source of inspiration and if it gets people baking all the better. Enjoy and keep baking