Is it summer yet? No, not quite, but you could be fooled if you closed your eyes and ate a fork full of this dessert. It has all the flavours and ingredients of a Great British summer (sans rain). Yes, yes…Pavlova is German, but us Brits have taken it to our hearts and to our picnics and to our dessert tables. And we love it so. Because I’m not quite ready for summer yet, I didn’t go the hole damn way and create a pavlova. Instead, I’ve taken elements from one of my all time favourite desserts and incorporated them into a cake.
Inbetween the sponges, you’ve got the most awesome chewy meringue that takes you right to that picnic blanket or dessert table and shouts one thing at you: RASBPERRY PAVLOVA!
140g plain flour, sifted
85g butter, unsalted and softened
50g soft brown sugar
100g golden caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs whites
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
4 eggs whites
300g butter, unsalted and softened
2 tbsp raspberry juice
Pre-heat the oven to 130c fan and on some greaseproof paper draw in pencil around a 6” cake tin.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks appear, add the eggs a tablespoon at a time until the egg whites are glossy. Add the vanilla extract and the white white vinegar and whisk again to combine.
Decant a little into a piping bag fit with a large plain round nozzle. Pipe some peaks onto the great proof paper for decoration. Spread the remaining on the baking paper and form into a circle, keeping with the lines.
Bake for 1 hour. Once done, turn the oven off and leave the door open. Leave the meringue in there to cool.
Turn the oven up to 170c fan and line a 6” cake tin.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add to the eggs the vanilla extract and add, one by one, mixing inbetween each addition to ensure the mixture doesn’t curdle. No worries if it does, just add a little flour to bring it back together.
Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and add a third of it to the batter before mixing for a few seconds and then adding half the buttermilk. Repeat the process and then add the final third of the flour. Scrape the bowl down and beat everything together to incorporate it. Pour the batter into the cake tins and bake for 35-40 minutes on the middle shelf. Once baked, leave the cake to cool before levelling off and cutting halfways so you’re left with two even layers.
Take a 200g punnet of raspberries and place in a small pan along with 60ml of water and 30g of sugar. Place on a medium heat and stir continuously as it comes to a boil. The raspberries with soften to create a jam-like consistency. Put through a strainer and keep both aside – the juice for the buttercream and the fruit for the filling.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
Put the eggs and sugar into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Continuously mix until all the sugar dissolves – approximately 10 minutes. To test, take some of the mixture and rub it between your fingers. If you don’t feel any sugar granules, you’re done!
Off the heat, whisk with a balloon whisk on high until the mixture is completely cool and you get stiff peaks – again about 10 minutes. Add in, a cube at a time, the butter while the mixer is still whisking. Continue until all the butter is incorporated. Add the raspberry juice and a tad of pink food colouring. I used a gel and needed the tiniest bit as I didn’t want it to be bright pink. But go for whatever you’re feeling! Once that’s mixed together nicely, it’s ready to use.
Place the top of the sponge down first – upside down – and pile with some of the buttercream. Spread evenly and add some of the raspberry compote. On top of that, place the meringue disc and repeat the process, topping the cake off with the bottom half of the sponge – once again, turned upside down.
Give the cake a crumb coat, locking in all the crumbs to you have a nice smooth final layer. Place in the fridge for half an hour. Once cooled, spread on the remaining buttercream, smoothing out with a cake scraper.
To finish, add some mint leaves, some of the meringue peaks and raspberries.