Official Cake of Summer – update!

This would seem to be strange admission, but it turns out that I do not own any plain, round, cake tins.

I may have, at one point, when The Hubbs & I first started purchasing all those supplies one needs when furnishing a first kitchen, but some years later I started purging the house of all things which we didn’t need or use, and round cake pans may have been one of those items.

Strangely, I have a decent, if embarassingly, large collection of NordicWare cast-aluminum cake, bundt & loaf pans which I love dearly and use regularly, but it would appear that I have nothing in the 8″-9″ range, which made me wonder, “How on earth am I going to make this darned cake again?!?!”

I realized this afternoon, while searching for a suitable pan to bake the Official Cake of Summer, that last year I was using disposable aluminum takeout containers lined with parchment to bake the cakes since the original purpose of the pans was to make instant frozen meals for future use. Silly me, I didn’t take into consideration that I may not have those takeout containers on hand in the future.

So that brings me to my current conundrum: what do I bake my favourite summer cake in?

Well, turns out, at the very least, I have two square pyrex dishes that should be able to stand in for my round cake tins as long as I remember to line them with a sheet of parchment paper, each. The thing is, I remember this recipe being quite scant, in the cake portion, bordering on frustrating, so I’ve decided to increase the recipe by 25% in hopes that it makes the entire recipe more manageable since a square cake pan also has a larger area to contend with, having corners to deal with and all. Cross your fingers that it works!

Official Cake of Summer: Strawberry Meringue Shortcake

155g very soft unsalted butter
5 eggs, separated
325g plus 1 teaspoon caster sugar
125g plain flour
30g cornflour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
7 1/2 tsp milk
Handful Sliced, blanched almonds
250ml whipping cream
Strawberries, lots, sliced

Preheat oven to 200°C/390°F
Line two 9″ square cake pans with parchment and grease well. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter with 125g 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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