I doubt there is anyone in Australia who hasn’t tasted pavlova and certainly it is a popular and perennial dessert! Australians and Kiwis have hotly contested the origins of this popular dessert for decades with evidence surfacing that could suggest the humble pav has English, American or even German beginnings. Perhaps we’ll never know where it first came from, but the most important thing is really making sure you get a piece the next time you are offered one!
So with a nod to the pav, I’m creating another classic Layered Hazelnut Meringue Cake which is a bit more special than your average meringue cake. Hazelnut meal is folded into the meringue and slowly baked, but it’s all about the presentation so I added some pretty flourishes at the end to elevate this into a showstopper.
First off, I make three hazelnut meringue discs (and I must say, even though these meringue disks contain similar ingredients, they are much easier to make than hazelnut macarons!), fill them with luscious whipped cream and then top off the cake with all sorts of delightful delicacies such as sugared mint leaves, pineapple flowers, edible flowers and fresh fruit to finish.
This cake really depends on having good quality cream to layer between the meringue discs. I’m using Devondale All Rounder Thickened Cream as the gelatine content in the cream really helps stabilise the whipped cream between the delicate meringue layers. To help whip up your cream faster, I recommend keeping your bowl, beaters and cream chilled in the fridge prior to whipping. To keep your bowl extra cold, if you’re using hand beaters, rest your whipping bowl in a larger bowl and nest ice between the bowls to keep them extra cold.
I really hope you enjoy this final episode of Lyndey Milan’s Summer Baking Secrets!
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 35 minutes
6 egg whites
1½ cups (330 g) caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon (5ml) white vinegar
2 cups (200g) hazelnut meal
600ml Devondale cream, whipped
2 firm ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced
200g punnet blueberries
200g punnet mulberries, optional
2 tablespoons glace ginger, thinly sliced
Pineapple flowers, see below
Sugar frosted mint sprigs, see below
Preheat oven to moderate, 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Mark three 20cm rounds on three sheets of Glad baking paper. Place the paper drawn side down on three 33x 24cm baking biscuit tray sticking each with a little butter so the paper adheres to the tray.
Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites until firm peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until thick and glossy. Add vanilla and vinegar and mix until just combined. Gently fold though hazelnut meal.
Spoon the mixture evenly over the three rounds. Using a spatula spread only to edge of the marked rounds. With the back of a wet spoon carefully spread meringue mixture out, don’t let it dome in the centre, keep meringue discs as even as you can. Bake for 35 minutes, until pale golden and dry. Cool completely.
To make pineapple flowers: Preheat oven to moderate, 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Trim and thinly slice a small pineapple. Combine ½ cup (125ml) water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan, stir over a low heat until sugar is dissolved. Immerse the pineapple slices in the syrup, and then lay slices out on a baking tray that has been lined with Glad baking paper. Bake for 30 minutes to 45 minutes, or until the pineapple slices have become dry and a little golden. Remove from trays. Pinch the core to shape each slice into a flower. Set aside on trays to cool completely.
To make sugared mint leaves: Brush each leaf on both sides with a little egg white, coat with sugar and leave to dry completely on a wire rack.
To assemble: Whisk the cream. Spread a small spoon of cream on a flat serving plate or cake stand. Place first meringue disc top side down on platter. Spread with one third of the whipped cream. Repeat with the other two discs, finish with cream. Refrigerate from 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.
To decorate: Pile the top of the cake with the fruit, pineapple flowers, glace ginger, blueberries, mint and flowers.
Lyndey’s note: For crunchy meringue layers assemble 30 minutes before serving. For a softer, easier to slice cake assemble up to 2 hours before serving. Keep refrigerated. Decorate just before serving.