This Meringue Stack Cake is the result of hysterical displacement activity. I should have been working on any number of urgent work/blog projects but instead decided it was the perfect time to try my hand at vegan (aquafaba) meringue. Possibly because I could not face the wall of negativity, or mountain of work, I had to wade through that day. And you know what? If all displacement activities where this delicious we would be better off focusing on them instead of all the other stuff. Not sure why July and August have been so chock-full with difficult projects and children injuries. I mean the month started with a bird relieving him/herself on my head! Talk about signs from the universe. I know some people consider this lucky, but so far I fail to see any of this supposed luck…
But before I get bogged down by negativity, let me concentrate on vegan meringue again. I wanted to try my hand at meringue after the successful Vegan Macaron experiment and I am very happy to report that aquafaba (i.e. the water you normally throw away after draining a can of chickpeas) makes incredibly fluffy and totally dreamy meringue without even needing to be reduced first. You never have to separate half a dozen eggs (and wonder what to do with the egg yolks) to make pavlova again! It’s practically magic – and seriously easy to work with.
Part of the reason I made this dessert was to use up a carton of double cream so although the meringue is vegan, the stack cake itself is not. But you could replace the whipped cream with whipped coconut cream and it would taste equally amazing – probably better in fact. I used a mix of blueberries, cherries and foraged blackberries as filling/topping here but any berries would work as well. Roasted peaches and nectarines would also be a lovely topping. One thing to note however is that the cake needs to be eaten soon after it is assembled. As soon as the moisture from the cream seeps into the meringue the whole thing gets gooey and eventually collapses. Luckily it is very easy to demolish and you will be asked for seconds!
The meringue gets easily browned in the oven so keep an eye on the temperature and if you notice the layers browning too much take the temperature down a notch. I had two trays baking at the same time and the one on top browned while the one under it stayed snowy white. I also made some mini meringue kisses (there was tons of meringue) which kept their shape beautifully. This, by the way, is the dessert I had been teasing about on Instagram stories which I have been enjoying so far (possibly because I never managed to get into Snapchat).
- 180ml | 6fl oz aquafaba (water drained from a 400g/14oz can of chickpeas)
- 360g | 12½ oz (caster) sugar
- 1 tbsp cream of tartar or arrowroot
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- Filling and topping
- 300ml | 10fl oz double or whipping cream
- 200g | 7oz icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- lemon or berry curd (store bought or homemade)
- about 100g | 3.5oz fresh berries to decorate and fill
- blueberries, cherries, blackberries
- grated lemon zest or icing sugar to dust
- edible flowers (optional) to decorate
- Drain the water from a 400g/14oz can of chickpeas and chill in the fridge until cold.
- Preheat the oven to 150C (300F). Line two baking trays with non stick baking paper. Trace circles, spaced slightly apart, on the paper using a bowl or plate as a guide. My layers were quite small but there's enough meringue for at least 3-4 20cm/8in layers.
- Put the aquafaba in the clean bowl of your stand mixer and start whisking on medium-low speed until it starts to froth up. Add the vinegar and whisk it in.
- Increase the speed to maximum and continue whisking until you have soft peaks and the mixture is almost doubled in size, light and fluffy.
- Mix the sugar and cream of tartar together. Start adding the sugar mixture, a tablespoon at a time, while whisking at high speed. Continue to whisk until you have firm, glossy peaks.
- Add the vanilla and whisk until incorporated. You will have a large bowl of marshmallowy meringue.
- Transfer the meringue into a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe circles over the baking paper (following your tracings). Pipe some meringue kisses around your large circles.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 120C /250F (or as low as 110C/230F) and then bake the meringues for an hour and a half to two hours. The meringues should feel dry and firm to the touch.
- Turn the oven off and leave the trays to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar.
- Whip the double cream, vanilla and icing sugar until you have firm peaks. Take care not to over whip or the cream will separate and become grainy. Transfer to a piping bag.
- Pipe circles of the whipped cream over your meringue layers and add a little lemon curd over each layer. Scatter with a few berries and sandwich together (my cake was four layers - any taller and it will be hard to slice).
- Pipe a little more cream on the top and then pile a selection of fresh berries and a few of the meringue kisses to decorate. Sprinkle with some grated lemon or a dusting of icing sugar and serve immediately.