How To Build a Better Watermelon Cake

How To Build a Better Watermelon Cake

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Meghan Splawn
Aug 25, 2016
(Image credit: Jeff Roffman)

A cake made of watermelon would have seemed like an oddity years ago, but if you spend anytime on Pinterest you know this flour-free confection is very much a thing. We're big fans of the concept. After all, what's not to love about a no-bake summer treat made with four ingredients? But we had to give it own own spin. This version has a few smart changes to the recipes you've seen floating around, resulting in a cake just as stunning and whimsical — but much easier to make.

Here's how we turned the quintessential summer fruit into a easy-to-make masterpiece.

(Image credit: Jeff Roffman)

A Smarter Way to Cut the Watermelon

Use a medium-sized (in the five-pound range) seedless watermelon — this size is manageable to handle and fits well on a standard cake stand. After halving the watermelon, remove the peel and continue to shape the watermelon with a sharp knife into a dome. This shape will help keep the frosting in place and results in a pretty finished sliced. Be sure to refrigerate the watermelon while you make the frosting to help it adhere once added.

(Image credit: Jeff Roffman)

Skip the Whipped Cream and Go with Meringue Instead

Watermelon cake is traditionally made with a whipped cream frosting. Unfortunately, whipped cream and watermelon are not friends. It can be challenging to get the whipped cream to cling to the cake. Instead, using a cooked meringue, which will set on the watermelon, makes frosting much easier.

Swiss meringue is cooked over a double boiler and then beaten with an electric mixer to stiff peaks. It is incredibly stable and almost foolproof to whip up — plus you can torch it for a sweet and toasty final effect.

How To Build a Better Watermelon Cake

Makes 12 servings

What You Need

Ingredients
1 medium seedless watermelon (about 5 pounds)
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment
Large knife
Cutting board
Cake stand or serving platter
Heatproof bowl
Electric mixer
Medium pot
Measuring cups and spoons
Offset spatula
Propane torch (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel the watermelon: Using a large knife, cut off each end of the watermelon. Stand the watermelon up on one of its cut ends. Cut away the rind: Working from top to bottom, cut off narrow strips, turning the watermelon as you work.
  2. Shape and dry the watermelon: With all of the rind removed, take a look at your cake: are the sides smooth? Is the top level? Use the knife to even out the watermelon as best you can (don't worry too much — the frosting will cover most imperfections). Pat the watermelon dry with paper towels and refrigerate while making the frosting.
  3. Make the frosting: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Find a heatproof bowl that will sit neatly on top of that pot without touching the water. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl. Whisk the egg whites and sugar together over the pot of boiling water until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes. The egg white mixture should be hot to the touch (and register 140°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, then beat the egg white mixture with a hand mixer or stand mixer on medium-high speed until the mixture doubles in volume and reaches stiff peaks.
  4. Frost the cake: Place the watermelon on a cake stand or serving platter. Pour the meringue over the top of the watermelon and use an offset spatula to guide it down and around the sides of the watermelon. Use the spatula to create swirls in the meringue. Let the cake sit for about 30 minutes before serving.
  5. Torch the cake (optional): Use a propane torch to lightly toast the meringue. Work slowly, making sure to brown the cake evenly. Slice and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: This cake is best eaten the day it it made.
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