Official Cake of Summer

This Sunday was our annual family pancake breakky for Stampede — pancakes, bacon, cheese smokies & bavarian smokies, plus lots of berries because it’s summer and everything’s ripe.

Last week for family dindin, I promised Dad I would bring him a nice treat: strawberry shortcake!

This year we’ve had such a great haul of berries from our garden and surprisingly, we got a wonderful treat from our CSA that made it so that we had quite a lot of berries hanging around the house that needed using up before going off. If they went off, I would have been incredibly sad & upset at the loss, so I needed to do something fantastic and lo & behold Stampede Breakky was the perfect opportunity for me to use them.

Flipping through all my cookbooks that had potential shortcake recipes, I remembered that Nigella had a recipe in her Forever Summer book that I’ve always wanted to try, but I’ve never had the opportunity present itself until now and I was super thrilled to give it a go.

The recipe, as it’s written, I found it to be a bit much in the sweetness department. It’s way, way, WAY too sweet for my tastebuds, but with a bit of tweaking, I’m pretty sure this recipe will be my official Summer Cake of 2012.

In this cake, I’ve found that it’s the little things that absolutely make the recipe. Having a layer cake that already has its layers baked in, is a new experience for me. At a glance, it’s a 2-layer cake that has whipped cream and strawberries sandwiched in between, but in reality it’s actually four layers: each cake layer is comprised of a spongecake base and baked with a meringue layer on top.

I think this will now be my signature summer cake. Period. Honestly? I think it truly is the best summer cake in the world ^_^

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Strawberry Meringue Shortcake!

Strawberry Meringue Shortcake

125g very soft unsalted butter
4 eggs, separated
300g plus 1 teaspoon caster sugar
100g plain flour
25g cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp milk
Handful Sliced, blanched almonds
250ml whipping cream
Strawberries, lots, sliced

Preheat oven to 200°C/390°F
Line two 21cm cake tins with parchment and grease well. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter with 100g sugar. Mix the egg yolks.
Add the flour mixture, then vanilla and milk and mix well.

Divide the mixture between the prepared tins. You will think you don’t even have enough to cover the bottom of the tins, but don’t panic. Spread calmly with a rubber spatula until smooth.

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and then slowly whisk in remaining 200g of sugar.
Divide the egg white mixture between the two sponge-filled tins, spreading the meringue straight on top of the cake batter.

Smooth one flat and with the back of a spoon, peak the other and sprinkle the almonds over the peaks. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

With a cake-tester, pierce the cake that has the flat meringue topping to check it’s cooked all through. (It will have risen now but will fall back flattish later.) No sponge mixture should stick to the tester. Remove both cakes to a wire rack and let cool completely in the tins.

Unmould the flat-topped one on to a cake stand or plate, meringue side down.

Whisk the cream until thick but not stiff, add sugar to sweeten, if desired, and set aside.
Spread the flat sponge surface of the first, waiting, cake with the whipped cream and top with as many sliced strawberries as humanly possible, then top with the remaining cake, almond-studded meringue.

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