It happened again this year. Dad phoned months in advance of his birthday with a great urgency in his voice. I naturally panicked for a moment before he uttered the words “For my birthday this year could you make me…”. He really has to stop doing that. What followed was a detailed description of a cake he said he remembered. It had layers of a delicate sponge, with something almost chewy in between and a light white icing. I nodded along and mumbled my acknowledgement at each element. “But I’ve never eaten a cake like that”, he continued, “do you know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. I don’t actually know where all of this is coming from”. Ehhmmm, thanks dad, that’s all very helpful.
I scribbled his requests down in my recipe notebook with some ideas to come back to closer to the day. For his actual birthday we all went out for lunch and so I decided that bringing the cake that I had in mind would be awkward and a bit of a waste so instead I made some brownies and topped them with a marshmallow icing. They were a big hit. The next time we were all due to be together I was sick and so had to give that a miss. Word got back to me that he was whingeing that he was never going to get his birthday cake. Men. Last weekend we were all going to his house and it was also my eldest sister’s birthday so I got busy in the kitchen on Friday.
For the sponge layers I separated the eggs, whipped the whites and folded them through the batter at the end to make it nice and light. I then made meringue discs and a white chocolate ganache butter cream to layer with the sponge. I also threw in some raspberries to cut through the sweetness. The whole thing was then covered in more white chocolate ganache butter cream and decorated with raspberries and meringue kisses. It was a huge hit with everyone and dad said it far exceeded his expectations. Job done!
Note: It might look like there is a lot of work involved in making this cake but none of the elements are complicated and none of them take too much time.
7 Layer Meringue Cake
For the meringue discs/kisses:
3 large egg whites
150g caster sugar
1tsp distilled vinegar
For the sponge layers:
4 large eggs, separated
225g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
225g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
175g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
For the white chocolate ganache butter cream:
200g white chocolate
250g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
500g icing sugar
You will also need:
Preheat oven to 150C/300C/Gas Mark 2. Cut 3 sheets of parchment paper to line 3 baking sheets. Draw an 8″ circle on each one. Line 3 baking sheets with the parchment paper pen/pencil side down.
In a glass or metal bowl beat the egg whites using a hand-held electric whisk/standalone mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar in three stages, whisking all of the time until stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk to incorporate.
Pipe discs of the meringue mixture onto the prepared baking sheets using the circles drawn as a guide. Retain some of the mixture to pipe mini meringues to decorate the top of the cake. If you don’t have a piping bag or nozzles simply spoon the mixture onto the prepared sheets and smooth over the top of each one.
Bake the meringue discs in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn off the heat but leave the meringues in the warm oven to cool completely.
Once you have removed the meringue discs from the oven preheat it to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease the base and sides of two 8″/20cm sandwich tins and line the base of each with parchment paper.
In a glass or metal bowl beat the egg whites using a hand-held electric whisk/standalone mixer until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar for 3 or 4 minutes using an electric hand-held whisk/standalone mixer. Add the egg yolks one at a time, if they have broken and joined together just add them a tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition and adding the vanilla extract with the last one.
Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder into the butter mixture and fold through.
Add one-third of the egg whites and mix through to lighten up the batter. Gently fold through the remaining egg whites in 2 stages.
Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 prepared tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 15 minutes before removing from the tins and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack. Once they have cooled completely cut them in half so that you have 4 sponge layers.
Now make the white chocolate ganache butter cream. In a saucepan bring the cream to scalding point, just before it starts to boil, over a low-medium heat. Remove it from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.
Once the ganache has cooled pour it into a large bowl. Add the butter and icing sugar and beat using an electric hand-held whisk/standalone mixer for 10 minutes until light and fluffy, remember to scrape the bowl down a couple of times to ensure it is evenly beaten. Split the butter cream into 2 portions.
Place the top half of one of the sponges upside down onto a serving plate. Add a layer of butter cream, some raspberries and a meringue disc. Repeat this until you have used all of the meringue and sponge layers and half of the butter cream and raspberries. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining butter cream and decorate the top with raspberries and the mini meringues, if you made them. Pop the cake into the fridge for a couple of hours, or overnight, to allow the butter cream to firm up. Remove from the fridge a half an hour before serving.