Meringue Cake With Macerated Strawberries and Vanilla

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A soft pillowy gooey meringue layered with vanilla cream and macerated strawberries – think of a fruity pavlova crossed with a giant marshmallow! You’ll need a stand mixer or electric whisk to make life easier when you make this recipe.

Makes 1 Meringue Cake

You’ll need a stand mixer or electric hand whisk and 2 large baking trays

Ingredients

8 egg-whites (from the freshest eggs)
420g caster sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon white wine or cider vinegar

For the strawberries
300g strawberries, hulled
1 tablespoon caster sugar

For the filling:
200ml cream
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

1. Pre-heat the oven to 130C fan/150C/Gas 2.

2. Do the preparation: Take 2 large sheets of non-stick parchment paper that fit your baking trays. Measure and draw 2 circles on each sheet, about 18cm in size – use a large plate or the base of a baking tin. Turn the paper over and place each of the sheets on a baking tray.

3. Make the meringue: Place the egg whites, caster sugar and cream of tartar in the stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl. Whisk until the meringue is stiff and glossy (it takes about 15 minutes). You should be able to lift the bowl over your head without the meringue falling on top of you. Fold in the vinegar gently using a large spoon. Spoon the meringue onto the 4 circles on the parchment paper, spreading it gently to the edges of the circle.

4. Reduce the heat in the oven to 80C Fan/100C/gas ⅛. Bake the meringues for two and a half hours. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through so both meringues cook evenly. Turn off the oven, open the oven door gently and pop in the handle of a wooden spoon to keep the door slightly open and leave to cool.

5. If you are keeping the meringue layers for a day or two, wrap them tightly in cling film. An hour before you are ready to fill them, macerate the strawberries: Take half the quantity of strawberries and slice them in half. Place in a bowl, sprinkle over the caster sugar, add the vanilla extract and stir. Leave to sit in the fridge for an hour so the juices come out of the strawberries. Reserve the rest of the strawberries.

6. To finish the Meringue Cake, whip the cream until thick, add the vanilla extract and caster sugar. Layer the meringue cake with cream and macerated strawberries, leaving enough cream for the top. Spread the last of the cream on top and decorate with the reserved whole strawberries.

HOW TO MAKE A SIMPLE STRAWBERRY PAVLOVA USING THIS RECIPE (SEE OUR IMAGE ABOVE)
– Instead of making 4 meringues, make just 2.

– Draw 2 x 18cm circles and divide the meringue mixture between both. This will give you a deeper meringue.

– Use half the cream and half the strawberry quantities.

– Freeze one of the cooked meringue shells and top the second one with cream and strawberries. Then when you want a second meringue, defrost the frozen meringue shell, whip the cream and top it with any fruit: the macerated strawberries in the recipe above; fresh blueberries, poached plums, passion fruit or pomegranate, poached rhubarb or poached apples with cardamom syrup.

HOW TO MAKE A CHOCOLATE PAVLOVA MERINGUE CAKE
For a Chocolate Meringue: Fold in 3 tablespoons of Dutch-processed cocoa and 50g of grated dark chocolate to the meringue mixture in the recipe above (add it when you add the vinegar) to make a chocolate meringue. For the filling, fold in a few spoons of tinned caramel to the whipped cream with a few tablespoons of grated chocolate and use to fill the meringue. Instead of topping the meringue with fruit, spoon whipped cream over the top, sprinkle with crumbled chocolate flakes and drizzle more of the tinned caramel on top.

HOW TO SPEED UP THE COOKING TIME FOR THE MERINGUE
If you are in a hurry, you can cook the meringue for less time by changing the oven temperatures in the recipe above. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas 4. When you are ready to put the meringue in the oven, turn the temperature down to 150C/130C Fan/300F/Gas 2. Bake the meringue disks for one and a quarter hours until the meringue is crisp and dry.

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