Strawberry Meringue Cake

With Wimbledon just started, thought I'd make something special with strawberries. It was my daughter's birthday and she came up for the weekend, so needed a cake - this was just the thing.
It's made with oil not butter and is very easy to make, yet it looks 'an occasion' cake.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5
Grease and line 2x18cm [7"] sandwich tins

For the cake you need to sieve 150g plain flour, 25g cornflour and 2 level tspns baking powder into a bowl.
Mix together 100ml veg oil [I used sunflower] and 100ml water in another bowl.
Separate 2 eggs and add the yolks to the oil/water mixture and mix together. Stir the dry ingredients in and mix to a batter. Whisk the egg whites till stiff then fold into the mixture.
Divide into the tins then bake for 25-30 mins. Cool on a wire rack. Turn the oven off.

For the little meringues you need to put 1 egg white in a clean dry bowl and whisk till stiff and dry. Mix together 40g caster sugar and 15g icing sugar, then gradually whisk them into the whites.
Put a sheet of baking paper or a silicone sheet onto a baking tray, and using a piping bag and a large fluted nozzle, pipe about 15 rosettes. Put the tray into the oven when it's cool and leave there to dry for about 2 hours - if the oven's too hot, leave the door open.
You can make the meringues earlier and keep them in an airtight tin till you need them.

To finish the cake you need 350g strawberries [ stalks removed] and 250ml double cream.
Keep about 15 strawberries whole then lightly mash the rest. Whisk the cream till it's stiff but still soft and fold in the mashed strawberries.
Use half this mixture as the filling between the 2 sandwich cakes, then spread the rest on the top and decorate with the whole strawberries and the meringues. I sprinkled the meringues with some caster sugar to give a sparkly effect.

Loved the cream with the mashed strawberries - a real Summer taste. You could buy the little meringues or use just strawberries on top, or raspberries or other soft summer fruit. A simple cake, but great for a special occasion.


Lemon and Chocolate Tartlets

We had a good holiday in Brittany, and enjoyed lots of excellent food and wine. We ate in several creperies, enjoying the galettes made with buckwheat flour and filled with great things like prawns, cheese, ham and veg. We enjoyed some of the regions specialities such as Le Far Breton [ which is similar to the French Flan I posted about a while ago, but it has prunes and rum in it] and Kouign-amann, a butter cake made with yeast - very rich. We visited  couple of biscuit factories and sampled different flavoured palets and the galettes breton. My favourite flavour was the caramel and sea salt one. We also ate some gateau Breton, which is very similar in texture and flavour to the special cake from the Deux Sevres. I find them rather dry, but ok with a glass of cider!

I thought I'd post a French recipe to keep our holiday memories alive. It was given to me by my friend's neighbour; we were invited to her house for a meal, and this was the dessert. She also made a fantastic 'pain d'epices' using Moroccan spices, as her husband is Moroccan. She gave me that recipe too, and permission to use both recipes on my blog - lovely lady. Thank you C.
C bought the shortcrust pastry, but you could make your own, as I did, using your favourite recipe. I bought some candied lemons in a French delicatessen [as well as quite a few other goodies!]. The tartlets are little lemon ones topped with chocolate and cream. What's not to like?

You need shortcrust pastry using 250g of flour - I used 3 egg yolks, 50g of caster sugar and 150g of unsalted butter to make mine in the food processor. Put the ball of pastry in the fridge for about 30 mins then roll out to fit 6 tartlet tins x 10cm in diameter. Prick with a fork or add baking beans and bake blind in a preheated oven 200C/gas6  for 10 mins.

For the filling - beat 3 eggs with 200g of caster sugar and the finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons. Add 100g of melted butter and beat together. Pour the filling into the pastry cases.
Reduce the heat of the oven to 180C/gas4 and bake the tartlets for 20 mins. Put on a wire rack to cool.

Bring 20cl of single cream to the boil and add 200g of dark chocolate broken into pieces - it's easier if you add them in 2 lots. Stir together. Pour onto the lemon tartlets when they're cold. Put in the fridge for an hour before using. Decorate the top with some candied lemon pieces.

Lemon and chocolate is a combination which I've not really tried before, but I like it. The ganache gives a lemon tart a luxurious finish.


Rhubarb Meringue Tart

Off on holiday to France tomorrow, so thought I'd post a French recipe. Will be back posting in 2 weeks.

At the weekend I picked just enough rhubarb to make some kind of dessert. Wanted something different, and browsing through some old French cookery magazines, I found a recipe for a meringue tart with a difference, as it has a custard layer on the rhubarb before you add the meringue topping. Sounded like a great idea.
I love rhubarb, but we haven't a very big garden so I have to make good use of what we can grow!

It uses a 27cm tart tin, which is quite big.

So, you need:

350g of shortcrust pastry
1 kg rhubarb
1 egg and 2 yolks
20cl of cream
1 tbspn vanilla sugar
150 g of caster sugar (50g for marinating the rhubarb and about 100g or a bit less in the custard]
1 tbspn cornflour

For the  meringue :
 2 egg whites
50g caster sugar per egg

Preheat oven 220C/gas 8

Make the pastry and chill.
Cut the rhubarb stems into 2cm pieces, taking the strings off when necessary. Cover with the 50g of sugar and leave for an hour to macerate.
Drain the rhubarb in a sieve to get rid of some of the liquid..
Grease the tart tin and roll out the pastry to fit. Prick the bottom with a fork then add the rhubarb.
In a bowl, beat together the whole egg, yolks, cream, vanilla sugar, 100g of caster sugar [or less if you haven't got a sweet tooth] and the cornflour.
Pour this over the rhubarb and bake for 30 mins.
While it's cooking, beat the egg whites into peaks, then add the caster sugar a bit at a time - using 50g per egg gives a meringue which is dry and will harden. Use less sugar if you want a soft meringue.

When the tart is cooked, lower the oven temperature to 140C/gas1 or even lower if you can.

Pipe or spoon the meringue over the tart and put in the oven to dry out gently for about an hour. Test gently with your finger to see if it's dried.

We love meringue, so I used more than the 2 egg whites in the recipe - I used the whites from 3 large eggs to make a nice thick layer and piped it using a large nozzle.
 The acidity of the rhubarb was great with the sweet meringue and the custard layer gave it another texture. Could use this idea with other fruit - maybe apple, or plums, but I think it's the contrast between the rhubarb and the meringue which makes this tart so good.

ps I inherited several cake servers from my Mum, so decided to use one of them in the photo - it's my favourite one.


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