Baking, Cakes, Catering, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Meringue Gateau – a cake for all seasons!

A few weeks ago on twitter Evin was looking for suggestions for an alternative Christening cake and I suggested this one. This is a cake that I’ve used for christenings, birthdays, First Communions and even a small wedding. It’s versatile, elegant and relatively simple to make but it does look impressive!

I made one for a ‘surprise’ birthday recently and decided to go for three layers rather than the normal two. You only need three things to assemble this cake – meringues, butter cream and whipped cream , lots of it!

For the Meringue Discs, I used 8 egg whites and 16oz caster sugar whisked together in the Kenwood until mixture formed stiff peaks (NB make sure your bowl is clean and dry before adding the egg whites !)

Btw meringue measurements only even seem to work for me in imperial – 2 ozs sugar to each egg white.

Draw 3 20cm/8″ circles on parchment paper – turn the paper over so pencil doesn’t get on cake and pipe the meringue mix evenly over the three circles. Don’t worry there will be some leftover – I just pipe these as baby meringues.

Now comes the part where everyone seems to disagree – I cook the discs at 130 C Fan for 30 mins, check to see how they’re doing and normally end up leaving them for another 10-15 mins at 100 C Fan. You’ll know the meringues are done when you can lift them off the paper easily. I always leave my meringues to cool in the (switched-off!) oven.

Please note  it’s very useful to stick a tea-towel in the oven door to remind yourself that there’s something in there – twice baked meringues are not good – trust me I know!

Next you need to make Chocolate Butter Cream. For three layers I used 9 oz butter, 13oz icing sugar and 3 oz Green & Black’s Cocoa Powder  – blend all three ingredients in a food processor and add in good dash of rum or brandy to loosen the mixture.

You also need to whip lots of Glenisk cream – I think I used at least a litre on this cake (see I’m incapable of sticking to one measurement system – must be the engineer in me!)

Now to assemble the cake, sorry gateau!

Use a little butter cream to keep the base meringue layer in place on the cake board , then carefully spread butter cream over the first meringue disc.

Then cover the butter cream with whipped cream (I never said this was going to be low calorie, did I ?)

Place the next meringue disc on top of the cream and then repeat the chocolate butter cream and whipped cream layers. Top with the final meringue disc

Then just in case there isn’t enough cream – you need to cover the entire cake in more of it!

I put it in the freezer to set overnight at this point – if time is of the essence you can skip this step and decorate it straight away.

Now came the tricky bit – I normally just decorate the top with lots of chocolate and baby meringues but something made me want to write on the top this time (never again!). I did lots of practising……….

and I got lots of twitter support from Arnelle  and  Rosanne on how to pipe writing, freeze it, lift it off paper onto the cake, use stencils…… I even tried following Zack’s instructions for making a mini piping bag….

And this is what I ended up with ….

I may need more practise on my writing but the cake itself went down very well even if the birthday girl wasn’t as surprised as she should have been!

I hope you like it too!

Happy Cooking!

Cooking, Recipes

Ghoulish Bakes

I know I said this blog was about cook-books but hey it’s mine and I can change the rules, right?

Those of you following me on facebook will know that I have been trying to perfect my ‘Halloween Graveyard Cake’ before next weekend and some of you have requested the recipe so here goes…………

I found the idea for the cake in an old edition of BBC Good Food Magazine – the sponge is very easy and I decorated it with butter icing rather than chocolate.

If you’re doing the headstones – make sure you allow the chocolate to set fully before adding the writing (trust me I know what I’m talking about!!)

First Attempt
Take 2

Graveyard Cake

 

Oven:

180C/Gas 4

 What you need:

  • 375g soft brown sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 200ml milk
  • 175 mlsunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • Butter Icing:
    • 225g/ 9oz icing sugar
    • 175g/6oz  butter
    • 50g /2ozcocoa
    • Splash of milk/rum
  • ‘Headstones’
    • Rich tea finger biscuits
    • 50ml/2 fl oz. cream
    • 50g/2 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped

What you do:

  • Mix the dry ingredients – the sugar, flour and cocoa in a large bowl (make sure to break up any lumps in the sugar!)
  • In a measuring jug mix together the milk and oil and lightly whisk in the eggs, then add to the dry ingredients and mix to a smooth batter.
  • Pour cake mix into a lined cake tin (20*20*5 cm).
  • Bake in preheated oven for 40 mins until firm to touch.
  • Allow to cool in tin for 10 mins before turning out.
  • To make the butter cream – whizz icing sugar, butter and cocoa inn the food processor and add a splash of milk to ‘loosen’. (If you’re making it for an adult party add rum or brandy instead of the milk!)
  • For the ‘headstones’, pour the cream in to a small saucepan and bring to just ‘below the boil’. Pour over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts. Use a pastry brush to paint the chocolate onto the rich tea biscuits and leave to cool.
  • Decorate the cake with butter icing, ‘headstones’ and lots of imagination!
My next challenge is to try the meringue ghosts to attach to the headstones!
I hope my nieces and nephew like it next weekend – It will be interesting to see how they choose to decorate the cake!
Happy Halloween!
PS for anyone who worked in Louise’s this is a simpler method of the famous ‘oil cake’ – you don’t have to separate the eggs!