Coffee Kahlua Crown Cake

The very wonderful Mary Berry has filmed a new series ‘Mary Berry Cooks’ which aired this week (Mondays 8.30pm, BBC2), and this week’s subject matter was Afternoon Tea.

This is a type of meal which is fairly close to my heart for obvious reasons and also a treat I like to indulge in, in celebration of life events. The idea that on a regular basis anyone needs 4 ‘meals’ a day is fairly ridiculous, but like the feasting we enjoy at Christmas, weddings and other high days and holidays, Afternoon Tea, preferably at a posh hotel and accompanied by a glass of Champagne to go with the tea and goodies really must sum up what we Brits do best to make you feel special. I had Tea at the Ritz as part of my Hen Party (a million years ago), and I had no problem convincing a whole bunch of female friends and relatives to munch through fabulous sandwiches, scones and cakes for an hour or two, despite the usually obsequious diets most of them generally adhered to.

Anyway, coming up with cake recipes and ideas these days is much like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, there’s not much left that hasn’t been tried already, however, reminding others of, perhaps forgotten, treats is the name of the game here.

IMG_1192This is, as the title of the post suggests, Coffee Kahlua Crown cake. Meringue on top of cakes is a bit of a favourite of mine from the aesthetic point of view and although I have offered up something similar before it was a bit of a half-baked (!) affair, this is far more sophisticated both in looks and flavour.

So essentially we have a coffee walnut sponge cake, 6 smallish meringues, butter icing and glace icing to decorate. Where to start; making the meringues perhaps.

Very straight forward really, the day before you plan on making the cake, you will need 3 medium egg whites and 150g caster sugar, you can add pinches of salt and vinegar and vanilla extract, but it’s not necessary, egg whites and sugar is enough!

So whisk the egg whites so that they form stiff peaks but the mixture hasn’t gone over and become ‘dry’. This is clear when you see it so whisk more circumspectly as you reach the stiff peak stage to see off this point. Then, turn the motor on the whisk down a bit and start adding dessert spoonfuls of sugar gradually allowing each spoonful to be fully incorporated before adding the next one. You are aiming for a stiff, glossy white state. It must hold it’s shape. You can colour the meringue if you wish at this point using colour pastes ideally, or not as the case may be.

Preheat the oven to 120°C/Fan 100°C and cover a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper. You can then either pipe the meringue using a nozzle like this → IMG_0756

or just use 2 teaspoons to create blobs, a bit bigger than a golf ball, spacing them with room to expand a little on the baking sheets. this amount of mixture will probably make about 12.

Bake for 1 – 1.5 hours until hard to touch and slightly browned. Leave the door of the oven ajar to let them cool.

They will store for a couple of weeks in an airtight tin.

Next the cake: a Mary Berry recipe if the truth be told (and she must be credited) with a minor tweak.

So you will need: the oven on to 180°C/Fan 160°C, grease and line the bases  of two 8″ sandwich tins.

The ingredients are as follows: 4 large eggs, 2 heaped teaspoons of instant coffee powder (use the fancier instant espresso as it’s more of a powder and less granular), 225g soft butter, 225g caster sugar, 225g self-raising flour, 2 level teaspoons of baking powder, 50g chopped walnuts.

It couldn’t be easier, crack the eggs into a jug and add the coffee powder and whisk together (yes really), weigh out all the other ingredients into a bowl and then add the egg/coffee mixture. Beat together until smooth. Divide between the two sandwich tins and level with a spoon. Bake for 25 minutes or so until a small sharp knife blade comes out clean and the cake is starting to come away from the edges. Leave to cool in the tins initially and them remove to a wire rack until cold.

To assemble: for the buttercream you will need 75g softened butter and 210g icing sugar, 1.5 tablespoon of milk and 1 tablespoon of Kalhua. Begin by beating the butter and sugar together, slowly initially to incorporate the sugar into the butter otherwise there will large sugar clouds everywhere. Then add the milk and Kahlua and turn up the mixer to beat quickly for 5 minutes. Stop half way through and scrape the sides down to ensure everything is mixed evenly.

IMG_1191Lay the bottom half of the cake on a plate or cake stand, level the top of this layer with a long sharp serrated knife if necessary and then, coat with 2/3rds of the buttercream. Layer the top half of the cake on top and check whether it appears level. Spread the remainder of the buttercream thinly over the top of the cake and place the meringues (probably around 6) on top of the buttercream.

As a final flourish pop two spoonfuls of icing sugar in a small bowl and add just enough Kahlua to give a thick runny consistency so you can drizzle. Using a teaspoon go ahead and drizzle this icing over the meringue and cake. Dust with a little cocoa powder if you like.

The crowning glory of an Afternoon tea.

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A Fairly Patriotic (Eton) Mess: Meringues for Murray

Update: Murray won. And just for completeness on this sporting day; Italy are currently 2-0 up against Germany. Viva Italia!! Further Update: Victory for Italy – I don’t think anyone was expecting that.

As I was shopping with my BFF recently we wandered past a bakery selling the most amazing looking meringues. This most delicious looking batch of them was piled haphazardly and invitingly in the window. They were vast and in this case pink and so a germ of an idea started to form in my mind….

Wimbledon is in full swing and despite some improved performances from the British women, our main hope is Andy Murray as usual. As he is, in fact, Scottish I have developed the following based partly on Cranachan (an extremely yummy Scottish dessert) and Eton Mess.

For 12 Meringues you will need: 3 medium egg whites, 120g Caster Sugar, Food Colouring Paste or Liquid

Preheat the oven to 140°C/Fan 120°C. Line a baking sheet or two with greaseproof paper.

Into a clean grease free bowl place the egg whites and whisk at a fairly high-speed until the egg whites reach the soft peaked stage (as you drag the whisk out of the foamy whites, peaks form, the tops of which flop over).

Add a tbsp of the caster sugar and whisk that in well, again on a fairly high-speed. Add another tbsp of sugar and whisk well again. Continue until all the sugar is used up. You should have a lovely glossy stiff foam.

Add a small amount of food colouring and fold in until spread evenly throughout the mixture. Obviously colour to your satisfaction.

Spoon heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture onto the baking sheets leaving plenty of space in between each dollop and transfer to the oven. This quantity should provide 12 meringues. Immediately turn the temperature down to 120°C/Fan 100°C. Bake for 1 hour. Then turn the oven off and leave the door ajar until the meringues are cold.

They keep in an airtight tin for a week or two if you can resist them.

The Patriotic Mess: as you can see I decided to make both blue and pink meringues, but as far as the dessert went, I used the blue. Blue food as I have stated before is not very popular, however in this Olympic/Jubilee year there is a lot more blue food around. The blue is there, of course, due to the presence of the Scottish flag in the Union Jack, so this dessert is dedicated to Mr Murray and the match he’s playing this afternoon. I think it goes without saying that you can colour the meringues to your own tastes or not at all.

You will need for 4 servings: 150 ml Double Cream and 150g or ml of 0% Fat Greek Yoghurt, 4 Blue Meringues, 400g Raspberries, washed, 2 tbsp Whisky, 2 tbsp runny Honey, a sprinkling of toasted Porridge Oats or Granola!

In a bowl whip the double cream until stiff (use a balloon whisk). Fold the yoghurt, whisky and honey into the cream. Fold in the raspberries. Dollop single spoonfuls of the raspberry cream mixture into the serving bowls, crumble over the meringue, add another spoonful of the cream mixture and top with the toasted porridge oats or granola.

This really is good!

Meringues Part 2 involves the chocolate cake I promised….

The Cutest Cakes: Classic Cakes

Lilies and Pearls

The Cutest Cakes: Cupcakes

Rosebud Vanilla Cupcake

The Cutest Cakes: Individual Iced Cakes

Miniature Fruit Cake

Details for The Cutest Cakes can be found at www.cutestcakes.co.uk or if you click the image on the side bar you will be transported there.