Recipe Number One Hundred & Seventy Three: Page 363.
Since starting this challenge I've developed a real fondness for meringues. I'd never really given them much thought before but they really are easy to make and only a few ingredients are required. What's more, they are delicious! This would be my first meringue cake; the recipe sounded intriguing and the accompanying photograph made my mouth water.
I hadn't seen my mum on Mother's Day for several years, so it was lovely to be able to pay a visit this year. My gift to my mum was to be an afternoon tea and I thought that this hazelnut meringue cake would make for a pretty centrepiece. We all went to church in the morning and each of us received a beautiful posy of daffodils. Isaac talked loudly throughout the service, offering a running commentary of anything that caught his eye! We stopped for lunch before returning home. After a reviving cup of tea I made my way to the kitchen. My parents' kitchen is a completely different layout to what we have at home, so it always takes me a few minutes to acclimatise. As I set myself up to bake I felt as though I was ten years old again. I'll never lose the buzz of baking for my family; don't you ever stop wanting to please your parents?!
After lining my sandwich cake tins and turning on the oven, I moved on to weighing out the hazelnuts. I tipped them into an oven tray and placed them in the hot oven. Mary says to roast for about ten minutes. When the time was up I took the tray from the oven, tipped a few hazelnuts into a clean tea towel and gave them a good rub as suggested. Only a tiny amount of skin came away from the nuts, so they went back into the oven for another few minutes. Eventually the skins did come away but I found it easier to peel them off with my fingers. I quickly learnt it was best to wait for a few minutes before attempting this as I kept burning my poor fingers! I do not own a food processor, nor do my parents, so grinding the nuts caused some problems. First of all I tried a battery operated mini chopper and burnt it out within mere seconds. My mum had the bright idea of finely grating the hazelnuts by hand. We took a bowl and grater each and set to work. We had to laugh at how we were spending Mother's Day, but at least we were together!!! With two of us on the case it didn't take long before the hazelnuts had formed a fine powder. However, we both felt a little sick from the nutty smell; it was quite strong!
With the nut saga complete I could move on to making the actual meringue. This was nice and straightforward. I simply whisked some egg whites until stiff and then beat in a teaspoonful of sugar at a time. It was a fairly boring task but more pleasant than nut grating!! Once the meringue was stiff enough to stand in peaks, I could add in a tiny amount of white wine vinegar and vanilla extract. Last of all I folded in the mountain of grated hazelnuts. This made the meringue a pale shade of caramel brown. I heaped the thick mixture into the two tins, smoothed the tops and placed the tray into the awaiting oven. The meringue only needed to cook for around thirty minutes so this gave me time to get on with other things. I whipped up a batch of Mary's scones and then reluctantly washed up as I had run out of mixing bowls and I still had more cakes on my list to bake!
When I took my meringue cakes from the oven some thirty-five minutes later, I was a bit worried as the tops were a little scorched in places. I decided not to panic as they would soon be covered with cream so wouldn't be visible! I tipped the meringue from the trays and left them to cool. Neil kindly stepped in and helped me out with the double cream. I was using the electric whisk to make buttercream, so he made do with a balloon whisk and a good deal of elbow grease. He obviously doesn't know his own strength, as the cream ended up so thick it was hard to spread! I used two thirds to sandwich the meringues together along with two thirds of the raspberries. The remainder was used to decorate the top. A dusting of icing sugar was the finishing touch.
I was so pleased with the look of my hazelnut meringue cake and it got a few wows from my family. Mary says to leave the meringue to stand for three hours to avoid it splintering when cutting it into portions. We didn't resist it for that long and had no trouble with it. We all agreed that this made for a delicious and decadent dessert. My sister isn't a fan of nuts, so I wasn't sure she would eat it. However, she soon had a clean plate! I absolutely loved the combination of hazelnuts and raspberries; they went beautifully together. The flavour of the roasted hazelnuts was much in evidence, but was in no way overpowering.
The afternoon tea went down very well and, when I saw the big smile on my mum's face, it reminded me how much I really do love baking. Nothing beats making someone else happy and a home made cake always seems to do the trick!
|Mother's Day treat!|
|Mother's Day afternoon tea for my wonderful Mum xx|