Anyway back to this weekend and my baking. This cake started off as a modest project with my (nearly) 5 year old son helping, perched on the kitchen counter.
It then turned into something altogether more showy – as my cakes often do! – when a friend dropped round a basket of tiny baby strawberries – almost too cute to eat – from her allotment. I already had some shop-bought fruit and mini meringues for another baking project but I decided to combine it all into this Totally Summery Eton Mess cake.
It is such an easy cake to make and slightly unusual in that whipping cream replaces the fat in the sponge which makes the layers incredibly light, soft and fluffy. Just make sure you brush them with a little syrup or cordial to keep them moist for longer. And the rest is really child’s play.
Fold crushed meringue (store-bought or homemade) into whipped cream and add any of the beautiful summer berries available at the moment to make the filling.
Decorate with some piped whipped cream and extra berries and you have a cake with real wow factor that tastes even better that it looks. Best consumed in the garden, shared with family and friends – just be warned that everyone will want to come back for a second slice.
- The syrup recipe makes quite a lot of syrup. You will only need a small amount for the cake and the rest can be kept in the fridge for a week or longer to be used in drinks (will be posting a pink lemonade recipe soon). Replace with raspberry cordial if you prefer. Syrup can be made several days in advance.
- You can bake the cake in two 20cm (8in) tins to create a larger (but, alas, not as tall!) cake.
- Since the cake contains fresh cream it is best consumed soon after it is filled.
Totally Summery Eton Mess Cake
- <b>For the cake</b>
- 240 ml | | 8.1fl oz | 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- 225 g | 8oz | 1 cup caster sugar
- 230 g | 8.1oz | 1 1/2 cups plain all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp cornflour cornstarch
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- a little butter for greasing the tins
- <b>Raspberry syrup</b>
- 350 g | 12.3oz frozen raspberries
- 225 g | 8oz | 1 cup caster sugar
- 240 ml | 8.1fl oz | 1 cup water
- <b>For the filling & decoration</b>
- 550 ml | 18.6fl oz double cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 g | 3.5oz mini meringues or meringue nests crushed
- 3-4 tbsp of the syrup
- 200 g – 300g | 7-10.5oz fresh berries to fill and decorate*
- *I used strawberries blueberries and raspberries
- For the syrup: bring the frozen raspberries, sugar and water to the boil in a medium pot and then simmer for 30 minutes until the syrup is slightly viscous. Let the syrup cool, then strain into a sterilised container. Discard the cooked raspberries or use in the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease your cake tins with a little butter and line the bottoms with baking paper. Dust with flour and shake off any excess.
- Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks.
- Use a hand whisk to lightly beat the eggs and vanilla paste until frothy then add to the whipped cream. Briefly whisk together on low speed until just combined.
- Gradually add the sugar while whisking on medium-high speed. Whisk for a minute or two on high speed but don't over whip.
- Combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Sift over the batter and carefully fold using a spatula. Make sure you scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl until all the flour is incorporated.
- Divide the batter between your prepared tins and bake for 20-25m until the cakes are risen and firm on top and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Leave them to cool on a wire rack and then carefully turn out of the tins.
- Brush the cakes with the raspberry syrup and level the tops if necessary.
- While the cakes are cooling, whip the double cream and vanilla until it forms firm peaks. Transfer 1/3 of the whipped cream to another bowl (or piping bag) to use for topping the cake.
- Add the crushed meringue and splash of the syrup to the remaining whipped cream and fold together.
- Generously spread filling over the bottom cake layer and then nestle a few berries on top. Drizzle with a little syrup, letting it drip down the sides.
- Sandwich with the second layer, pressing down lightly on it. Repeat the filling process and top with the final layer.
- Spread or pipe the reserved whipped cream on top and decorate with a few berries and some meringue kisses or crushed meringue. Serve immediately – cake best consumed soon after it is made.
• You can bake the cake in two 20cm (8in) tins to create a larger (but, alas, not as tall!) cake.
• Since the cake contains fresh cream it is best consumed soon after it is filled.