4 large egg yolks
1 cup (100 grams) sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk (full fat or reduced fat)
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream)
1 - 2 tablespoons (15 - 25 grams) granulated white sugar
1 pound (454 grams) fresh strawberries, cut into bite sized pieces
Confectioners Sugar (powdered or icing) for dusting top of cake
Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Grease and flour two - 8 x 2 inches (20 x 5 cm) round cake pans.
Separate the eggs while they are still cold, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).
In a mixing bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg yolks and beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla extract.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, smoothing the tops with an offset spatula or back of a spoon. Set aside while you make the meringue.
Meringue: In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Divide the meringue evenly between the two cake pans, gently smoothing the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The meringue layers will have turned brown and will be crisp to the touch but soft inside. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled, remove from pans.
Shortly before serving whip the cream with the sugar until stiff peaks form. Cut the strawberries into bite sized pieces and, if necessary, add a little sugar to sweeten them. Place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, on a serving platter. Spread the whipping cream onto the cake and top with the strawberries. Gently place the second cake layer, cake side down so the meringue layer is facing up, onto the first layer. Dust with confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar. If not eating immediately, cover and place in the refrigerator until serving time. The assembled cake will hold in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Serves 8 - 10.
A Meringue Cake is an impressive looking layer cake. It's quite unique because each layer has a yellow butter cake batter with a meringue topping. Once baked and cooled, the two layers of cake are sandwiched together with loads of softly whipped cream and fresh fruit.
When you bake a cake batter and a meringue topping in the same pan at the same time, it fuses the two layers together - so you end up with a fine grained yellow butter cake topped with a lovely golden brown meringue. Now, you will notice that as the cake bakes, the meringue puffs up, but as it cools, the meringue will shrink. A few notes on ingredients. Sifted cake flour means you sift the flour and then measure it. Cake flour is a soft wheat flour with a lower protein content than all purpose (plain) flour. It gives this cake a soft and tender crumb. However, if you do not have cake flour you can use an equal amount of all purpose (plain) flour. Once the cake batter is divided and put in the cake pans the meringue is made. It begins with beating the whites until foamy. Then cream of tartar is added which helps to stabilize the whites. (Cream of tartar is tartaric acid and is a fine white crystalline acid salt. It can be found on the spice isle in most grocery stores. If you cannot find it you can leave it out.) Once the whites form soft peaks, the sugar is gradually beaten in, one tablespoon at a time. (Adding the sugar gradually ensures that it fully dissolves into the egg whites.) Continue to beat the egg whites until stiff and glossy (not dry) peaks form. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Divide the meringue evenly between the two pans and spread on top of the cake batter. Bake the cakes until the meringue is puffed and a lovely golden brown. A toothpick inserted into the cake will come out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. When removing the cakes from their pans be sure to butter the wire rack so that the meringue does not stick to it. Then immediately flip the cakes so they are meringue side up to finish cooling.
I love this cake's casual yet elegant appearance and it is utterly delicious filled with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Strawberries, however, can be substituted with other berries like raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, or slices of juicy peaches or nectarines. And while I love the look and taste of whipped cream, other ideas are to fill the cake with lemon curd or a pastry cream. Now, the cake layers can be made a day or two in advance, but to keep the meringue crisp, it is best to sandwich the cake with the strawberries and cream shortly before serving. Leftovers can be covered and stored in the fridge, however, the meringue layer does soften.