Preheat your oven to 350F and line the bottom of a 9 or 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer or using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and ¼ tsp cream of tartar on medium high speed until stiff (but not dry). Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift 1 cup cake flour, 1½ tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp salt. Set aside.
In another bowl using a handheld electric mixer or using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat egg yolks on medium speed until thick (about 3 minutes).
Gradually add 1 cup of sugar and beat some more (another 3 minutes).
Add ¼ cup hot water and continue beating until bubbly and incorporated.
Add the rest of your wet ingredients (lemon juice + zest and 1 tsp vanilla extract) and yes, continue beating.
Lower speed and gradually add your flour mixture to the cake batter just until combined.
Gently fold your egg whites into the batter about ⅓ cup at a time until everything is incorporated.
Transfer the cake batter into your prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
For the Custard
In a small bowl, stir to combine 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1 egg and a pinch of salt. Break apart large clumps of cornstarch, if any.
In a saucepan, stir 1 cup milk and ¼ cup sugar until combined and heat just until it boils. Lower heat for now.
Scoop about ¼ cup of your milk mixture into your egg mixture to temper it. Pour the milk mixture gradually and while continuously stirring so as not to scramble the egg mixture. Stir until incorporated.
Pour tempered egg mixture into milk mixture, stir to combine and bring back to a gentle boil. Cook until thick (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in ½ tsp vanilla. Allow to cool before using (see notes).
For the Fruit Gelatine Topping
Sprinkle (don’t dump in one solid heap) 1 packet of powdered gelatine in ¼ cup of cold water. Leave alone for about 5 minutes.
In the meantime, combine fruit cocktail juice, water and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. You don’t want this mixture too sweet so taste as you go; remember that your custard is sweet already.
Remove pan from heat and turn your attention back to the gelatine. By this time, it should have already solidified. Microwave it in increments of 10 seconds, stirring each time, until the granules are fully dissolved. Mix the dissolved gelatine into the juice mixture and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to assemble (see notes).
To Assemble Cake
First spread custard on top of your already-cool cake. Even it out with a spatula. An offset spatula works best here.
Next, arrange the fruit on top. You can get creative and arrange the fruit however you like.
Pour the gelatine on top of your fruit layer. This gelatine mixture should be enough to cover all the fruit.
Chill the cake in the fridge until the gelatine is set, about 4-6 hours. I usually leave it in the fridge overnight.
To serve, run a thin, sharp knife around the edges of your cake before releasing from the springform pan. We like to serve it closer to room temperature rather than straight out of the fridge to allow the cake to soften up.
The yield depends on how big or small you slice your cake.
Instead of canned fruit cocktail, you can also use canned peaches or any other canned fruit you like.
For the gelatine mixture, use the juice from the fruit cocktail and just add water until you get to 1 and 3/4 cups.
If you end up with a lumpy custard, no worries. Simply run the custard through a sieve to get a smooth, creamy consistency.
When you’re heating the gelatine, see to it that the cup your gelatine is in never gets too hot to touch.
See post for the complete step-by-step photos and more baking tips.