Well, four of us aqua girls decided to have a mini-gathering earlier this week and one of us offered their home as a venue. She said she would make us soup for lunch so I said I'd bring cake. I don't need much persuasion to get into the kitchen to bake really! I had intended to bake the night before the gathering but had spent longer at the airport seeing Mr Plum off (returning to Hong Kong). Dad's flight was cancelled and he was transferred to the next flight which was 3 hours later. Mum & me (oh and Minh) kept Dad company to while away the time. It was late when I got home and Mr Leaf was in bed asleep (oops! we didn't have much of a Valentine's Day together!!!) so it meant no baking until the morning.
The host I learnt, is wheat-intolerant. A bit of a bother when it comes to cakes but there are a few recipes that are flourless. Over Christmas I treated myself to a cookbook, The Great British Book of Baking. I remembered admiring a cake in the book thinking how delicious it looked and vaguely recollecting it was flourless.
It was surprisingly easy to make, light and delicious! Very melt-in-the-mouth!
I made a few tweaks here and there but essentially, it's from the book. The photo isn't great as we were so looking forward to enjoying the cake I almost forgot to take a picture!
Raspberry Meringue Roulade (adapted from The Great British Book of Baking)
4 medium free-range egg whites at room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon juice (I didn't bother but used 1/4 tsp cream of tartar)
225g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour (mine was quite heaped)
2 tablespoons flaked almonds (a small handful)
250ml whipping cream, well chilled (I used a 284ml pot of Emlea double cream, dairy cream alternative )
250g fresh raspberries (or other prepared fruit) (shop didn't have raspberries so I used handful of blueberries and handful of sliced strawberries)
Finish (I didn't have time to do fancy bit - would be a nice touch if serving as a dinner party dessert)
250g fresh or frozen raspberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons icing sugar or to taste
20 x 30cm Swiss roll tin brushed with oil and lined with baking paper - not greaseproof paper (I just lined my tin without the oil - makes washing up easier)
Heat oven to 150 C / 300 F / gas 2. Put egg whites and lemon juice into a spotlessly clean and grease-free bowl and whisk with an electric whick, a large mixer or rotary whisk until they form stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. (I put the whites into the bowl of my stand mixer and whisked until large bubbles formed - like washing-up bubbles. I then added the 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar and continued to beat until the stiff peak stage.) Mix the sugar with the cornflour and whisk into the egg whites a tablespoon at a time, to make a stiff and glossy meringue. (The addition of cornflour helps get that chewy toffee texture in the meringue.)
Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and spread evenly. Scatter the flaked almonds over the top of the meringue (I miss-read the recipe and sprinkled flaked almonds on the base before adding meringue. I guess the almods would become nice and toasty if I put them on top as directed!) and bake in the heated oven for 45 minutes, until risen, golden brown and firm to the touch - the centre will still be slightly soft. Turn the meringue out on to a sheet of non-stick baking paper and lift off the tin. (Using the paper, I lifted the meringue out of tin, carefully laid it face-down and peeled off paper, then laid it back on the paper to cool completely. Didn't want to waste paper.) Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then gently peel off the lining paper. Leave until completely cold before filling.
When ready to finish, whip the chilled cream until very thick. almost to stiff peak stage - if the cream is too firm, though, it will be difficult to spread. Spread the cream evenly over the meringue (remember you want to spread the side with no almonds as that will be presentation side, my presentation side was the bottom as I put almonds on wrong side!) and top with the raspberries. Roll up the roulade from one long side, using one hand to guide the meringue into shape and the other to use the paper to support the meringue and pull it into shape as it rolls up. Once the meringue has become a roulade, use the paper around the roulade to hold it in shape by wrapping it firmly. Chill for an hour before serving. A good accompaniment is some fresh or frozen berries whizzed up with lemon juice and icing sugar to make a thick sauce or puree. The roulade can be made several hours in advance, but is best eaten the same day. To serve, cut the roulade into thick slices and spoon over a little of the raspberry sauce.
Us girlies didn't chill the roulade as we didn't have time. After baking the meringue, I cooled it for an hour by an open window then transported it in its tin to my friend's house. Once there, I whipped up the cream until fairly stiff but softer than you would use if you were piping it. Slathered the meringue with the cream and topped with blueberries and chopped strawberries. Rolled the meringue so the long sides met one another then we sliced straight away. It was heavenly! Not overly sweet but was so light and melt-in-mouth! Really beautiful! Looks impressive but easy to prepare!