Lemon aspen & lime slice with mescal-roasted pineapple

Lemon aspen & lime slice with mescal-roasted pineapple

Chris Middleton

Lemon aspen is a very unique flavoured native Australian fruit, found in Northern Queensland. They are available frozen through the internet from outback or gourmet food suppliers. The bitter–sweet flavour of the yuzu, available from Asian grocers, would make a good substitute. Mescal should be used sparingly in this dish, otherwise its smokiness can overpower the delicate citrus flavours. You can make this dessert any shape you like or layer it in a glass like a trifle.


Quantity Ingredient
Lemon sorbet, to serve
Dried vanilla beans, to garnish

Lemon cake

Quantity Ingredient
145g caster sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, finely grated zest
85g plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Lemon syrup

Quantity Ingredient
100ml lemon juice
100g sugar


Quantity Ingredient
250ml freshly squeezed lime juice
100g lemon aspen or yuzu flesh
170ml full-cream milk
75g sugar
2 large egg yolks
4 gelatine leaves
300ml pouring cream

Mescal-roasted pineapple

Quantity Ingredient
1 baby pineapple
115g brown sugar
50g unsalted butter
80ml mescal
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

Lime curd glaze

Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 gelatine leaves
60ml freshly squeezed lime juice
55g sugar
1 tablespoon tequila
100ml Lime curd


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Lightly grease and line a 23 cm square cake tin with baking paper.
  3. To prepare the lemon cake, place the sugar, egg yolks, vanilla and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until pale, creamy and doubled in size. Add 2 tablespoons water, sift in the flour, cornflour and baking powder and fold to combine.
  4. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt, until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until firm peaks form. Add a large tablespoon of whites to the egg yolk mixture and stir to combine. Gently fold the remaining whites into the batter. Pour the vegetable oil down the side of the bowl into the batter and gently fold to combine.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden and a skewer comes out clean when tested. Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a rack, remove the baking paper and allow to cool completely.
  6. To make the lemon syrup, combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, until reduced to a light syrup.
  7. Lightly grease and line a 23 cm square baking tin with plastic wrap.
  8. Cut the cake in half crossways, creating 2 even layers. Trim if necessary. Brush both sides of the cake layers with lemon syrup to moisten. Place the top layer of the cake, coloured side down, into the base of the prepared pan.
  9. To prepare the mousse, combine the lime juice and lemon aspen in a small saucepan and boil for 4 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
  10. Bring the milk and sugar to the boil in a small saucepan over medium–low heat. Set aside.
  11. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl, until pale. Gradually pour the hot milk into the yolks, whisking continuously, until combined. Return to the pan and cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, over low heat, until thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon.
  12. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5–10 minutes, until softened.
  13. Whisk the cream in a medium bowl, until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  14. Squeeze the excess water out of the softened gelatine and add to the hot custard. Stir to dissolve and combine. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Set the bowl over a larger bowl of iced water and whisk until cold. Add the lime and lemon aspen juice and whisk until thickened. Add a large spoonful of the whipped cream and stir to combine. Fold in the remaining cream. Pour the mousse into the cake-lined tin. Top with the remaining cake layer, coloured side up, pressing down gently to secure. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until set.
  15. Meanwhile to prepare the pineapple, peel it retaining the natural pineapple shape, cut the pineapple into 4 wedges lengthways and remove any excess core. Heat a large frying pan over medium–high heat and cook the pineapple until a dark brown caramelised colour on all sides. Add the sugar and caramelise further. Add the butter, mescal, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean and seeds and simmer for 10 minutes, or until reduced to a rich caramel. Set aside and leave the pineapple to cool in the caramel.
  16. To make the lime curd glaze, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5–10 minutes, until softened.
  17. Simmer the lime juice, sugar and tequila together in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water out of the softened gelatine and add to the liquid, stirring to dissolve and combine. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Add the lime curd and stir to combine.
  18. Pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until set.
  19. To serve, using a hot knife, slice the cake in half and then across to make 12 even-sized 12.5 cm long rectangles.
  20. Warm the pineapple pieces basting in the caramel until warm and glazed. Transfer them to a chopping board and cut into thin slices. Arrange the pineapple decoratively, dress the plate with the pineapple, mescal and caramel sauce. Top the cake with the lemon syrup and garnish with dried vanilla beans. Serve immediately with a scoop of lemon sorbet.
Paul Wilson
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