Meringue CakePosted: December 2, 2017
I wasn’t sure whether to put this up as a recipe as it seems a little ordinary, but then again, not everything in life has to be complicated. Especially if it is delicious. As this undoubtedly is.
This actually started out as a cake of a much different pedigree, and I’m going to show you the recipe that initially caught my eye: A version of the famous Kiev Cake. I’m not going to steal the author’s content, so you will have to click on the link to see all the stunning photographs. And they really are spectacular. AND the author has included step-by-step photos. I even made the cake as described. I just didn’t like it.
My reasons, which I freely admit are entirely subject to my own fickle tastes, were that it was too sweet, I found the nuts unnecessary and the sponge cake itself was too dry, even with the soaking syrup. If you have a sweet tooth and a love of nuts, you will adore the Kiev cake and the linked recipe is certainly a stunner, it was just not for me.
However, I thought the general idea had merit and so went through the creation of several versions, trying to refine the flavours and textures. In the end, the simplest idea was the best: sponge, cream, fruit, meringue.
Essentially, this is a Victoria Sponge filled with Eton Mess, but it is also extremely versatile in that this basic idea can be used and re-used in a multitude of ways, by simply varying the flavours of the cake and the fruit. In the summer months, it can take advantage of the range of fresh soft fruits and berries available either in the shops or to pick yourself. In the colder months, it can be whipped up using fruit tinned in either light syrup or fruit juice. In fact, a store-cupboard with a tin of fruit and a pack of meringue nests and a pot of cream in the fridge renders this cake a treat that can be enjoyed in about an hour from start to finish.
Hang on a minute, I hear you say – an hour? To make and cook a whole cake? Why yes – because it doesn’t HAVE to be a large cake – see below.
Vwa – as they say – la!
The perfect combination of soft sponge, crunchy meringue, sweet-sharp fruit and fresh, billowy cream.
NB If you’re using fresh fruit, then you will need a little preparation in order to bring out their best flavour and also avoid the tricksy problem of juice. See recipe instructions below.
Much of this recipe depends on the size of cake you want to make. Choose quantities accordingly. The amounts given are for a medium-sized single cake.
170g unsalted butter, softened
170g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
200g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan.
- Grease and line your tin with parchment paper.
- Beat the butter until light and fluffy.
- Add the sugar and beat for 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs one by one, whisking thoroughly before adding the next.
- Sift the flour and baking powder together, then add to the other ingredients, mixing only enough to combine.
- Stir through milk until the mixture achieves a dropping consistency.
- Pour mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until risen and golden, and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10m minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
You can choose almost any fruit that takes your fancy, in whatever quantities you like, because any extra can be served alongside your cake as an added bonus.
Tinned fruit can be found in both juice and syrup. Both are fine and have the advantage of no juice problem, once drained. If your meringue/cream/fruit mixture needs a little sweetening, or it’s a bit stiff, you can add a little juice/syrup rather than raw sugar.
Fresh fruit is equally delicious, but requires you to address the problem of juice. This isn’t such a problem for small berries that you can tumble into your filling whole (blueberries, raspberries, etc), but for fruit which requires slicing (strawberries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, mango, etc.) the juice problem will become apparent as soon as it is cut. If you add chopped fruit directly into the meringue/cream mix, the juice will start to seep into the cream and will eventually turn your filling runny and unstable. Aside from the natural ooziness, the sugar in the meringue will actively draw more juice from the fruit, so in order to prevent this, you need to draw out the juice before mixing it into your filling. This is easily done by first preparing the fruit in small, bite-sized pieces, then sprinkling over 3-4 tablespoons of sugar and gently mixing. Set the fruit aside for 1-2 hours, and you will find that the drawn juice has created a delicious syrup and the fruit has softened and sweetened indulgently. Drain the fruit thoroughly from the syrup before adding to the meringue and cream. Use the syrup to sweeten the mixture, or soak the cake, or not at all.
If you have egg-whites to spare, then you can always whip up a batch of meringues yourself, but I’ve found that the extended shelf-life of ready-made meringues make for a great store-cupboard stand-by. I’ve used both meringue nests and tub of meringue ‘kisses’ and, provided you don’t assemble the cake too far in advance, they both provide the sweet, textured crunch the filling requires. In terms of quantities, it is very much to your own personal tastes, but as a rough guide I would suggest 4 meringue nests or 1/2 a tub of meringue kisses for a cake serving 6-8 people.
You can use double or whipping cream, however I find that double cream whips up firmer and adds just the right amount of stability to get a good,clean slice when serving. 300ml is probably sufficient, but whisk up more if you think it might be required.
To assemble the cake
- Drain the (tinned or fresh) fruit from the syrup.
- Slice the cake horizontally.
- Soak the cut surfaces with syrup from the fruit (optional).
- Whip the cream.
- Add the fruit and crumbled meringues to the cream and fold in.
- Taste and add more fruit syrup if required.
- Spread over the bottom half of the cake and add the top layer of cake.
- Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve.