Thanks for all your lovely comments regarding the ladybird cupcakes. The children in Alfie’s class just loved them but there was one boy who went up to Alfie and said, ‘I have to be honest, I didn’t like the icing; it made me feel sick’. There’s one in every crowd! There were no mishaps with the antennas made with wire so that was another plus. And that was the start of Alfie’s ninth birthday celebrations.
Over the weekend we had a family dinner. It would have been a family dinner if Alfie’s big brother and sister had turned up but they were absent as they both had to work and didn’t tell me until after I’d set the table. Never mind – my parents arrived to sit in their seats.
I cooked Alfie’s favourite roast which is a rolled loin of pork with crackle, crispy potatoes cooked in duck fat and a salad (the salad isn’t actually on his list of most favourite things).
It’s not a birthday without a cake and so I made a raspberry praline meringue cake that despite Alfie being too full to finish his salad, he somehow found enough space to eat two slices of birthday cake.
Everything about this cake can be made in advance but it is best to assemble just before serving. The meringue cakes will crack if you take them out of the oven at the end of the cooking time so just switch the oven off and leave them in there to cool with the oven door closed. My cakes cracked a little as I had to rush them onto the bench because it was the pork loin’s turn for the oven. Don’t worry if they do crack; the great thing about pavlova is that you cover it in cream and fruit so no one is going to see any flaws that are actually totally insignificant.
And now that the cupcakes have gone to school and now that we’ve had the family dinner, it’s time for the birthday party and organising that event is my challenge for this week.
Raspberry Praline Meringue Cake
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Meringue is probably one of the most affordable desserts to make. It’s essentially egg whites and sugar. The berries can be expensive so I used frozen for the sauce with fresh raspberries to decorate.
- 175gms (6 oz) toasted almonds
- 6 egg whites
- 1 cup castor sugar plus 1 tbspn extra
- 1 cup light muscovado sugar
- 1 tbspn cornflour
- 2 tsps white wine vinegar
- 600mls (20 oz) thickened cream
- 600gms (20 oz) frozen raspberries
- 300gms (10 oz) fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 140C (280F)
In a food processor, finely chop two-thirds of the almonds. On a chopping board, coarsely chop the remaining almonds.
Place egg whites into a large, clean, stainless steel bowl and whisk with an electric beater until stiff peaks form. Mix the two sugars together and add gradually, allowing sugar to dissolve between additions. Add cornflour and vinegar and continue to beat until mixture is thick and glossy. Fold in all the almonds.
Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Spread mixture into 2 x 20cm circles.
Place in oven for 1 hour. Turn off oven and keep oven door closed. Allow cakes to cool completely.
Whip cream until stiff peaks form and set aside in the fridge.
For the Raspberry Sauce:
Place frozen raspberries and extra sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir until raspberries have softened. Remove from heat and strain raspberries through a sieve. Discard seeds. Blend cornflour with 2 tbspns of water. Return raspberries to the saucepan and add the cornflour mixture. Stir until thickened and set aside.
Carefully remove the baking paper and slide one of the cakes onto a serving platter. Spread with half the cream and half the raspberry sauce. Carefully slide the remaining cake on top of other cake and spread with remaining cream and raspberry sauce. Scatter fresh raspberries on top of cake.
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