Eton Mess Cake!
I was scrolling through instagram which is basically how I waste away almost everyday, especially during lockdown with nothing to do outside. While scrolling I saw a post by Jane's Patisserie with a tasty looking Eton Mess Cake. I don't really like meringues, I am not a fan of a Pavlova and I don't really like fresh cream in cakes but something about this cake really stood out to me. Maybe it was looking outside and seeing the dreary, rainy Sunday we were having in a time when I world just felt so bad, sad and filled with hate. Maybe I just needed some sunshine in a world where Black lives clearly do not matter and systemic and structural racism is still ongoing. I needed some brightness and baking always make me feel better. Baking was self-care today and that meant strawberries, cream and meringue.
Skip to the end for the recipe.
This Eton Mess cake was supposed to be three layer beast of a cake but with only 2 people in our flat I decided to make a smaller version with only 2 layers. I am so glad I scaled it down because even at 2 layers it was a beast of a cake and I had to find a way to give half of it away to my family.
Prior to starting the cake D made me soak the strawberries in vinegar. He had seen a video on twitter where tons of bugs that came out of strawberries when soaked in salt or vinegar, suggesting they needed to be removed. D needed to know no bugs were in our strawberries! So I did it and I can confirm no creepy scrawly came out. I am not convinced by this video anyway but maybe I am being too sceptical.
The recipe was really easy and looked pretty impressive. I enjoyed every part of this bake. Making the batter and splitting it between the sandwich tins was self-care. Adding the strawberries on the spread batter in the tins was fun. Whisking the double cream and the icing sugar into whipped cream was enjoyable. The slightly sweet cream was tasty as hell. Crumbling the meringues was great. Even the simple task of spreading jam was fun. I really enjoyed this bake. I needed to bake this day.
I used Bonne Maman Strawberry conserve, my go to jam. I used store bought meringues partly because it was what the recipe called for and honestly because no one has time to be whisking up egg whites with a non-electric hand whisk. Again I used my 22 cm tins because I don't own 20 cm tins (I need to buy some pronto!), so my cake is wider than it should be. Definitely use a 20 cm tin if you own one.
Even prior to decorating this cake, it looked lush, and I was debating whether to even decorate the top at all. But I am glad that I did because it seriously transformed this bake.
I made the cake early in the day, around 4pm for an after dinner dessert. I honestly could not wait until dinner was out of the way so I could get round to trying this beauty. Dinner was also lovely of course, thanks D, but I knew what I was working towards.
The cake was so light and fluffy. The strawberries in the sponge provided a lovely burst of sweetness to the sponge. The sweetened cream, crushed meringues and jam worked perfectly together. I feel like this is the kind of cake that exudes impressiveness. Feedback from the family let me know this one was a winner and I am glad I decided to make it. If you decide to give it a go eat it quick because it was best on the day 1, and by day 3 it was just about passable with the fresh cream. This cake is basically a super fancy Victoria sponge. After the last couple of bakes I now realise that I have got to the point where I don't require a recipe to make this type of cake. Time to get creative with my Victoria sponges. Watch this space!
Here is my scaled down recipe.
To see the original 3 layer cake check out Jane's Patisserie recipe here.
For the cake:
200 g Stork (Use straight from the fridge)
200 g Caster Sugar
200 g Self Raising Flour (Room temperature)
4 Medium Eggs (Room temperature)
200 g Strawberries (Quartered/Halved)
For the filling and decoration:
300 ml Double Cream
50 g Icing Sugar
2 tbsp Strawberry Jam
6 Meringue Nests
Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas mark 4, and line your two 22cm cake tins with baking paper
Cream together the stork and sugar until well combined
Add the eggs, one at a time
Sift in the self raising flour and mix together until you get a smooth batter.
Divide the batter evenly between your two tins.
Add your strawberries to the tops of the cakes. Half your smaller strawberries and quarter the large ones.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Watch them from 20 minutes onwards.
Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.
Filling and decoration
Remember to only decorate cakes when they are completely cool
Whisk the double cream with the sifted icing sugar until you get thick stiff peaks. You want to get to the point where the whipped cream stays firm on your whisk when lifted out of the cream. This can take a while if you are only using a hand whisk.
Place your 1st sponge on the serving plate and spread 2 tbsp of strawberry jam
Crush over your meringues (I crushed 2 meringue nests)
Spoon on 1/2 of the sweet whipped cream, and spread.
Add the second sponge and spread over the rest of the sweetened whipped cream.
Decorate with crushed meringues and strawberries.