It's been a bumper week in the cake zone, in honor of two very special events - first up, I got my UK citizenship on Friday!! Wow, that's been a long time in the making. I'll drink to that:
Secondly, we had a house-warming BBQ on the weekend, for which London put on the most spectacularly beautiful weekend of the year (possibly of the last 7 years). Our guests and I were the awe-struck recipients of not one, but TWO beautifully decorated dessert stuffs.
Aussie Flag Pav
*Note: my boyfriend wasn't happy with this recipe and took a couple of attempts, and he never managed to get the egg whites to the "stiff peaks" stage - he literally had to pour the mixture onto a baking tray. However, it tasted absolutely amazing and had a lovely marshmallowy centre, so it was a success in my book. I've tweaked the recipe so that you whisk the egg whites before adding the sugar, and replaced the cornflour with custard powder. If anyone tries it, let me know how it goes!
8 large egg whites (at room temperature)
350g caster sugar
2 tsps custard powder
pinch of cream of tartar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
4 drops vanilla essence
300ml double cream, firmly whipped
Strawberries and blueberries
Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until soft peaks form (much easier with an electric whisk). Continue beating while adding the sugar and pinch of salt until stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the custard powder, cream of tartar, vinegar and vanilla essence and fold in gently with a metal spoon.
Place the egg white mix onto the paper in whatever shape you desire, smoothing the edges. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and cook for 1¼ hours. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar and allow to cool completely. Transfer your pav onto a plate, then pile on the cream and dress with the fruit.
Look: ***** A-mazing. Pavlova always looks impressive, but the Australia flag made out of blueberries and strawberries made it extra special.
Taste: ***** Gorgeous. Light, crunchy outer with soft marshmallow in the middle. And you can't go far wrong with whipped cream and berries.
Texture: **** Perfect, as far as I'm concerned - but I'm not giving it 5 stars because the chef wasn't 100% happy with it.
Union Jack surprise cake (can you guess what the secret ingredient is yet?!)
a tin of tomato soup
spice/cinnamon to taste
For the topping:
Crème fraiche with some sugar mixed in
Strawberries and blueberries
Cream butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, beating in one at a time. Fold in the remaining ingredients until mixed well and pour into a cake tin. Bake at 180c for about 40 mins, or until the top springs back when pressed. This is quite a dense cake, so the skewer test doesn't work so well!
Decorate with the crème fraiche and berries. Union Jack optional.
Look: ***** Very pretty round cake with crème fraiche all over and union jack decoration on top.
Taste: *** Pretty different. None of us guessed tomato, but as soon as it was revealed, you could recognise the unusual flavour! I wasn't 100% convinced, but points for adventurousness.
Texture: *** Dense and fudgey in the middle.
Bonus points: 3: for making both cakes on theme; taking extra time to decorate them beautifully; and using an unexpected ingredient that Herr Heston Himself would approve of.