Last Saturday was my son 15th birthday and surprisingly, this year he didn't choose a chocolate cake. For the last two years, he has chosen very, very chocolaty cakes and I was very surprised when, this year, the only demands were: Meringues and blackberries... With that in mind, I adapted the Meringue Girls - Everything Sweet - Eton Mess Layer Cake to his taste and the result was the cake that I'm presenting you. Absolutely delicious I have to say! The sponge is moist and light and all the mixture of the berries, cream and meringues, make the cake very refreshing and delightful. If you think that this is too much work, believe me, its not!! You just have to be organised because you can make the meringues 2 or more days in advance, the coulis you can make the day before or 2 days before and, once cooled, keep it in the fridge and the cake, can be made the day before, wrapped in clingfilm and reserved. The day itself, you just have to make the Eton mess cream and assemble the cake and I'm saying this because that's exactly how I did it.
for the meringues: 300g caster sugar 150g egg whites (about 5 eggs) method: Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Line a small baking tray with baking puper, pour in the caster sugar and heat it in the oven for 7 minutes. Heating the sugar helps to create a glossy, stable mixture. Pour the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk them slowly, then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Take the sugar out of the oven and turn the oven down to 100ºC. With your mixer on full speed, very slowly spoon the hot sugar into the stifﬂy beaten egg whites, making sure the mixture comes back up to stiff peaks after each addition of sugar. Once you have added all the sugar, continue to whisk on full speed until you have a smooth, stiff and glossy mixture. You should continue to whisk for at least 5 minutes once all the sugar has been incorporated. for plain meringues: Spoon your meringue mixture into a disposable piping bag and cut the tip off. Pipe out your kisses of various sizes, by keeping the bag tight, straight and directly above your baking tray. Squeeze from a 2cm height above the baking tray, then let go with your squeezing hand before pulling up to form the lovely peaks. for the coloured meringues: Using food colouring (colour of your choice), a clean pipping bag and a clean paint brush, paint thick stripes from the tip of your piping bag to halfway down the bag (about 5 stripes). Carefully spoon your meringue mixture into the pipping bag. Cut off the tip of the pipping bag and pipe as for the plain ones. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the base of the meringues comes off the baking paper clean. Once cooled, keep the best looking ones for decoration and crush up the rest. The meringues keep for 1 week in a biscuit tin.
for the cake: 400g softened unsalted butter 400g caster sugar 8 eggs 400g self raising ﬂour 1/2 tsp baking powder 2 tbsp whole milk 2 tsp vanilla bean paste method: Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Grease 2 x 18cm round cake tins and line with baking paper. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each addition. Add the flour, baking powder, milk and vanilla paste and beat together until you have a smooth, soft batter. Divide the mixture between the 2 tins and smooth the top. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden and the cakes spring back when pressed. Turn them out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. If you're making the cakes the day before, once cool, wrap them in clingfilm and reserve. When ready to assemble the cake, cut the cakes in half horizontally, so that you have four layers. for the coulis: 375g ripe strawberries, stalks removed, chopped into small pieces 30g caster sugar method: Put the fresh strawberries and sugar into a pan over a gentle heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the fruit breaks down. Push through a sieve using the back of a spoon and set aside to cool completely. You can make the coulis up to 2 days in advance. for the Eton mess cream: 600ml double cream 150g fresh raspberries, squished to a rough pulp with a fork 2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped method: Using a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl and an electric whisk, beat the cream until medium peaks are formed. Set aside a small bowl of the whipped cream for the ﬁnishing icing. Place some of the strawberry coulis aside in a separate bowl for the decoration. Swirl the remaining coulis carefully into your bowl of cream. Fold in the crushed meringues, the squished fresh raspberries and the chopped mint, so that everything is just mixed and tastes delicious. to decorate: a handful of coloured and plain meringues, different sizes freeze dried strawberry or raspberry pieces, to sprinkle mint springs a handful of fresh raspberries (I used raspberries and blackberries) edible glitter (I didn't use)
to assemble the cake: Place a layer of sponge on a serving plate and spread a layer of Eton mess cream over the top. Repeat the layering with the remaining sponges and cream. Use a palette knife to spread a very thin layer of the reserved whipped cream all over the sides of the cake. Spread a thicker layer of cream on top. Arrange some of the reserved whole meringue kisses around the edge in the shape of a crescent, then scatter with the crushed meringues, sprinklings of the freeze dried raspberries or strawberry pieces, sprigs of fresh mint and whole raspberries dipped in edible glitter. Drizzle the remaining strawberry coulis over the top of the cake and allow it to drip over the edges.
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