Thursday, 1 October 2015

Chocolate, Raspberry and Meringue Cake

What's that? Another birthday cake? Well, if you insist...
This time it was my sister's turn for a birthday treat. Being a chocoholic like myself, of course her birthday cake had to involve chocolate. But as always, I wanted to make something a little more adventurous than your usual chocolate cake. Knowing my sister's love of meringue, I decided to take the plunge and make my own from scratch. The result? A chocolate and meringue cake with a raspberry and cream filling. Think of it as a raspberry eton mess but in cake form, and with the added deliciousness of chocolate.
To make the cake and meringue I followed this recipe, then replaced the cream filling with the raspberry cream filling from this recipe. After my macaron disaster I was a bit cautious about the prospect of making my first ever meringue from scratch, but I'm always up for a challenge!

The cake recipe was very simple to follow, as was the meringue. The only issue was, as with my sad attempt at macarons, the whisking of the meringue mix. I have yet to get myself an electric whisk (birthday / christmas present, anyone?) and it turns out whisking meringue by hand requires some superhuman strength in order to get the right airy consistency. In the end I settled with some slightly droopy peaks and faced the reality of a sad flat meringue. Just wait until I have my electric whisk, meringue...

However, after spooning my meringue onto the cake batter and popping the tins in the oven, all baking hell broke loose. Reading the recipe, I thought it was a bit strange cooking the cake and meringue together, but who was I to question it? But after around 10 minutes I started to smell something a little strange, and opened the oven door to be met with a cloud of smoke. Disaster. With the meringues sitting on top, the cake batter had no room left to rise, and was instead spilling out over the top of the tins and landing in a burnt, cakey mess at the bottom of the oven. Perhaps my meringues were too heavy, or maybe my tins weren't tall enough, who knows. But I persevered, waiting for my mess of a cake to finish baking. After the 40 minutes were up, I took out the cakes, only to find the meringues heavily overbaked with burnt edges, whilst the cakes themselves were still raw. Thoroughly disheartened, I peeled off the overbaked meringues and placed my now sunken cakes back in the oven, vowing to never again bake meringue.

After playing with the idea of throwing my baking failure in the bin, I trimmed off the burnt edges and refused defeat. I made my raspberry cream filling, stirring the raspberries in instead of keeping them whole to make a pretty pink colour whilst saving a few for decorating, and stuck the meringues to each cake using the filling. I then placed one meringue-cake on top of the other with a generous layer of filling in between, before once again trimming down the middle meringue to level it to the sponge.

I topped the cake with the saved raspberries and covered up a number of sins by wrapping round some cute gingham ribbon. Noone would ever guess the baking nightmare that had just occurred.
Despite it probably being one of the most stressful things I've ever baked, and the result not being quite what I had envisioned, it was actually surprisingly delicious! The chocolate and raspberries masked any risk of "burnt meringue" flavouring, whilst the cream provided a lovely light contrast to the rich chocolatey sponge. It even got a "very nice" from my very picky brother - a miracle! I would even go as far to say it didn't look too bad either, with the chocolate marbling within the meringue being simple yet effective. In my opinion, it wouldn't look out of place at a sunny picnic!
I still don't quite understand what went wrong with my bake. It all seemed to be going so well to begin with. All I know is that baking meringue on top of cake batter is something that I'll be steering clear of in the future. However, I feel there is a moral to this baking horror story. As disastrous as your bake may appear to be, don't give up hope, as the end result may just be worth all the hassle!

Have you ever successfully made meringue before? Please, let me in on your secret!

Love, Beth xxx