Almond Meringue Cake

My mother used to buy little cakes called Japs from the English bakers where we lived in Lancashire.

We both loved them.

I now know that the name is shortened from Japonais  – which is French for Japanese style.  How they came by this name seems to be a mystery.

Traditionally they were two circles of almond meringue sandwiched together with a butter cream (often coffee flavour), covered with more butter cream and nibbled nuts.

When I came across this recipe for an almond meringue cake, lots of memories came flooding back.

The proportions for the meringue are:

50g of caster sugar & 25g of ground almonds per egg white.

I used 4 egg whites in this version.

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds

Method

  • Use the loose bases of two baking tin – 20cm in diameter.
  • Lightly grease the circles.
  • Cut a 2 x 20cm circles of grease-proof paper and stick them onto the metal circles.
  • Place each circle on a large baking tray.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM1 – 140°C.
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
  • Add the sugar and whisk again till stiff.
  • Fold in the ground almonds.
  • Spoon and smooth half the mixture onto each circle.
  • Bake for 50 minutes (swap shelves half way through).
  • Turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside for 20 minutes.
  • Take out and leave to cool completely before using.
  • *
  • Place one circle onto your cake stand.
  • Cover this with coffee or rum butter cream**.
  • Place the second circle on top.
  • Optional – add a few blobs of butter cream on top to decorate.
  • *
  • ** You can use a lighter cream filling of your choice.

 

 

Coffee set by Royal Doulton  – Pastorale – 1970 – 1990

Jug by Buchan Pottery, Portobello near Edinburgh –  from the early 1960s.

 

Chocolate & Raspberry Cake

I decided to make a chocolate cake I had not made for a while. Raspberry jam is used in the cake and in the butter cream. The best results are with a jam that is not too sweet – a slight tartness is best.

I used raspberry jam that was made by my friend in Leeds from raspberries that  were grown on her allotment.

Ingredients

  • 150g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 30g cocoa
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 120g butter
  • 4 level tablespoons of raspberry jam
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5 – 190°C.
  • Grease and line the bottoms of 2 – 18cm diameter baking tins.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and cocoa together.
  • Cream the butter, sugar and jam together.
  • Add the eggs bit by bit .
  • Fold in the flour mixture with the milk to make a soft dropping consistency.
  • Divide the mixture between the two tins.
  • Bake for 25 minutes.
  • When cold, sandwich together with the raspberry butter icing.
  • Dust the top with icing sugar to serve.

Raspberry Butter Icing

Ingredients

  • 60g butter
  • 2 tablespoons of raspberry jam.
  • 120g icing sugar.

Method

  • Cream together the butter, jam and around ¾of  of the icing sugar.
  • Add more icing sugar until the required consistency is achieved.

 

 

  • Coffee set – Greenway – by Hostess Tableware – 1960 – 1979
  • Designed by John Russell

 

Pear & Ginger Cake

Having recently made a lovely apple cake loosely based on an English Victorian recipe I thought I would adapt it using pears and ginger.

Ingredients

  • 4 pears (Conference are good) – peeled & cored and cut into rough 2.5cm chunks
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 230g of plain flour
  • ½ tablespoon of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 125ml of sunflower oil
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 2-3 drops of vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to GM4 – 180°C.
  • Use a 22cm loose bottom tin with a cake liner – (like a huge bun case).
  • Mix the pears, ginger and sugar in a small bowl.
  • Leave whilst you prepare the cake mixture.
    *
  • In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In another bowl whisk the oil, sugar, vanilla extract and the eggs until they are thoroughly mixed.
  • Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Place half the cake batter into the cooking tin.
  • Place half the pear mixture and juices on top of the cake batter.
  • Cover with the rest of the cake batter.
  • Place the rest of the pear mixture evenly over the surface of the cake.
  • Bake for 60 – 65 minutes – cover and maybe another another 10 minutes if not done.
  • Leave to cool in the tin before turning it out.

Served on Burleigh Ware, Burgess & Leigh Ltd, Blue Mist, stoneware tea plates from the 1930s.

Variation

Having made this, I thought about the French dessert Poire belle Hélène, which has a chocolate sauce poured over poached pears.

I made the cake again and when it was cool, I drizzled a chocolate sauce made from 40g of melted dark chocolate and 20g of butter over it.

Tea plates by Midwinter – Queensbury from the 1970s.

 

Victorian Apple Cake

I have been doing some research into cooking in Victorian England and came across this recipe, which is based loosely on an apple pudding in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management  published in 1861.

Eating apples are used in this recipes rather than tart cooking apples.

Although not a Polish Apple Cake, I think it would go down very well if served with a cup of tea in Poland.

  • Sunflower oil  is used and this would not have been available to the Victorians.
  • Work on obtaining oils from cottonseed was started in the late 19th century in the USA.
  • Hardened vegetable oils were available from the early 20th century.
  • Vegetable oils became popular for cooking in the mid-20th century.

Ingredients

  • 4 eating apples – peeled & cored and cut into rough 2.5cm chunks
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 230g of plain flour
  • ½ tablespoon of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 125ml of sunflower oil
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to GM4 – 180°C
  • Use a 22cm loose bottom tin with a cake liner – (like a huge bun case)
  • Mix the apples, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl
  • Leave whilst you prepare the cake mixture
  • *
  • In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt
  • In another bowl whisk the oil, sugar, vanilla extract and the eggs until they are thoroughly mixed
  • Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture and mix thoroughly
  • Place half the cake batter into the cooking tin
  • Place half the apple mix and juices on top of the cake batter
  • Cover with the rest of the cake batter
  • Place the rest of the apple mixture evenly over the surface of the cake
  • Bake for 55 – 60 minutes – cover and maybe another another 10 minutes if not done
  • Leave to cool in the tin before turning it out.

21st century Cake Stand is Crazy Daisy by Sophie Conran for Portmeirion

Placek with Gooseberries

Ribes uva cripaagrest in Polish – gooseberries are related to black and red currants.

Gooseberries are the first soft fruits of the summer.  They grow well in cooler climates. These gooseberries were picked the evening before this placek was made.

This placek – flat-cake has the lovely contrast of the sweet cake against the tart fruit.

Ingredients

  • 400-450g of gooseberries
  • 250g butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 360g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons of yoghurt
  • *
  • Icing sugar to dust

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to GM4 – 180°C.
  • Grease and use one sheet of greaseproof to line two sides and base of a 32 x 22cm baking tin.
  • Top and tail the gooseberries.
  • Cream the butter and sugar
  • Add the eggs one by one and continue creaming.
  • Mix the flour with the baking powder.
  • Gently mix in the flour.
  • Add yoghurt to make a soft dough.
  • Lightly press the dough into the baking tin.
  • Scatter the gooseberries on top.
  • Bake for 45 – 50 minutes.
  • Leave to cool on a wire cake rack.
  • Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Caraway Seed Cake 2

I wrote a post on Caraway Seed Cake in March 2018 and in doing so found that although caraway is such a popular herb/spice in Poland and used in breads, meat & vegetable dishes, it is quite surprising that it is not used  in cakes.

I looked in all my recipe books and did not find any use of caraway in Polish cakes.

Caraway – Image from Wikapedia

 

Caraway seed cake seem to be a quintessential British cake and recently whilst  doing some research into Victorian cooking in the north of England I came across this delicious version.

As I live a short walk away from a house that Charlotte Brontë used to visit, I was very interested to find that seed cake is mentioned in her novel Jane Eyre (1847)

“And then Miss Temple invited Jane and her new friend Helen into her parlour for tea and I began to warm up. The kindly teacher unwrapped before their eager eyes a parcel containing ‘a good-sized seed-cake’.

‘I meant to give each of you some of this to take with you,’ said she, ‘but as there is so little toast, you must have it now,’ and she proceeded to cut slices with a generous hand.

We feasted that evening as on nectar and ambrosia; and not the least delight of the entertainment was the smile of gratification with which our hostess regarded us, as we satisfied our famished appetites on the delicate fare she liberally supplied.”

This recipe has been adapted from –

Mrs Somerville’s Cookery and Domestic Economy, published in 1862 and found in  – The Victorian Kitchen by Jennifer Davies BBC 1989 TV Series.

The original recipe used 10 eggs! – here the ingredients have been adjusted to 5 eggs.

How large the bowl must have been & how hard the whisking of the whites without an electric whisk.

Ingredients

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 5 eggs separated

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 180°C.

  • Use a loose bottomed cake tin – 24cm in diameter.
  • Grease the tin and line the base with a circle of greaseproof paper.
  • Mix together the flour, baking powder, cornflour, ground almonds & caraway seeds.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar.
  • Add the yolks, one at a time creaming the mixture on each addition.
  • Fold the flour mixture into the creamed mixture.
  • Whisk the egg whites till firm and stiff.
  • Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.
  • Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth over the top.
  • Bake for 60 minutes, check after 50 minutes and cover with grease-proof paper if necessary – to prevent burning.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.

 

Caraway Seeds are thought to aid digestion – so this is a good cake to have at the end of a meal.

Royal Albert – Primulette tea set from the 1950s.

Lead Crystal cake stand  – Tortenplatte – Venus  by Nachtmann(Germany).

Grape Meringue Placek

This cake is a cross between my grape meringue cake and placek(flat cake) with rhubarb and meringue. 

There are two parts to this cake

  • Short pastry base – baked and cooled
  • Grapes & Meringue topping.

Short pastry base

The base of this is made made from the recipe for  Ciasto kruche 1 – using raw egg yolks found in a previous post  – Pastry – ciasto kruche & półkruche.  

However as the topping is sweet, I used less sugar in the pastry – you might be able to omit all the sugar – I have not tried this.

Ingredients – Base

  • 300g plain flour
  • 200g butter – chilled
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 4 egg yokes
  • pinch of salt

Method – Base

  • Add a pinch of salt to the flour.
  • Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the icing sugar and mix this together.
  • Add the yolks and gently mix them in
  • Bring it all together into a dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.
  • Form the dough into a rough rectangle.
  • Wrap the dough in grease proof paper and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to GM 6 – 200°C.
  • Grease and line a 33 x 23 cm baking tin – use one long piece for sides and base – helps to take it out. 
  • Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough a little
  • Press the dough into the tin – filling it up all the sides.
  • Prick the surface with a fork.
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes till golden.
  • Leave to cool.

Ingredients – Meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 2 sponge fingers  – crushed
  • *
  • 300g seedless green grapes

Method – Meringue

  • Preheat the oven to GM 2 -150°C.
  • Place the whites into a grease free bowl.
  • Whisk till stiff.
  • Add granulated sugar and whisk again till stiff.
  • Fold in the crushed sponge fingers.
  • *
  • Place 1/3 of the meringue over the cake base.
  • Place the grapes over the meringue.
  • Cover the grapes with the rest of the meringue
  • Put into the oven for 50 – 60 minutes.
  • Leave to cool completely in the tin.
  • Cut the cake into squares when cool to serve.

Served here on  Royal Doulton – Sonnet  1971-1998

Grape Meringue Cake

This recipe is from Pani Stasia *,  she and my mother were at school together.  She baked wonderful cakes and everyone loved this soft cake with seedless green grapes on the top within a mound of lovely meringue.

Many years ago I jotted down the recipe and now I found it amongst  my many hand written recipes.

I obviously had not written it down very well and in my first attempt, although the topping part worked very well , the bottom cake part was not as I remembered it.  Part of the problem was some of the measurements were in spoons and I think my conversions did not work out that well.  Also I remember that seedless grapes used to be very small, now they seem to be much bigger.

My next attempt was a disaster!  I tried cutting the grapes in half  (bad idea) and I adjusted the base ingredients  – the base did not cook well at all this time – a big gloopy mess – straight to birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of a pair of wood pigeons that come into the garden looking for cast off cake!

I decided to bake the cake base separately and add the topping later – I had a couple of goes and found that a Victoria sponge using two eggs was the best.

Note

This method means you have 4 egg yolks left over (you can use these in many other recipe). The original recipe used the yolks in the base and the whites in the topping – sadly I could not recreate this.

Cake Ingredients

  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self raising flour
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon

Method

  • Grease a 22cm loose bottomed tall sided tin.
  • Preheat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.
  • Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy
  • Add the eggs and lemon rind and whisk again.
  • Fold in the plain flour.
  • Place the mixture in the tin and bake for around 25 minutes.
  • Leave to go cold before adding the topping.

Topping Ingredients

  • 225g seedless green grapes
  • *
  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 2 sponge fingers – crushed

Method

  • Preheat the oven to GM2 – 150°C.
  • Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.
  • Add the sugar and whisk again till stiff.
  • Mix in the crushed sponge fingers
  • Put half of the meringue mixture on top of the cake base.
  • Place the grapes in a layer on top of the meringue.
  • Put the rest of the meringue mixture on top of the grapes and smooth it down.
  • Bake for 1 hour – if not dry enough – lower oven to GM1- 140°C and leave for another 30 minutes.
  • Switch off the oven and leave cake in the oven.
  • Once oven is cold take out the cake and leave to cool in the tin.
  • Do not try to take it out of the tin until it is totally cold.

 

Queen Anne tea plates & Portmeirion – Crazy Daisy cake forks  – Sophie Conran’s design from 2009.

Coffee set and plates – Greenway by Hostess Tableware – design by John Russell, 1960 – 1979.

*

  • Pani  translates as Madam, Lady or Mrs and is a polite form of address – it is like donna in Italian or saying Miss Mary in the Southern States of America.
  • Stasia is the shortened form of the Polish name Stanisława. (The feminine form of Stanisław)
  • St Stanisław is the patron saint  of Kraków & Poland, he was a martyr, murdered by the Polish king Bolesław II the Bold in 1079 – a story which has much in common with St Thomas à Beckett and the English king Henry II  in 1170.

Placek with Rhubarb & Meringue

This cake was inspired by my placek(flat cake) with sour cherries and meringue

There are three parts to this cake:

  • Short pastry base – baked and cooled.
  • Rhubarb filling – cooked and left to go cold.
  • Meringue topping.

Three stages all take a bit of time but well worth the effort. It is delicious with a lovely balance of  sweetness against the tart rhubarb.

Short pastry base

The base of is made with a smaller amount of the recipe for  Ciasto kruche 1 – using raw egg yolks found in a previous post  – Pastry – ciasto kruche & półkruche. 

I could see out of my kitchen window that the rhubarb was beginning to grow.  As I still had one batch left frozen from last summer I to decided to use that up before the new crop and in time for you to try it.

Ingredients – base

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g butter – chilled
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 2 egg yokes
  • pinch of salt

Method – base

  • Add a pinch of salt to the flour.
  • Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the icing sugar and mix this together.
  • Add the yolks and gently mix this in, then and bring it all together into a dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.
  • Form the dough into a rough rectangle.
  • Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to GM 6 – 200°C.
  • Grease and line a 23 x 26 cm baking tin.
  • Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough a little
  • Press the dough into the tin – filling it up all the sides.
  • Prick the surface with a fork.
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes till golden.
  • Leave to cool.

Ingredients – Rhubarb filling

  • 400g (approx) of rhubarb
  • 150g of granulated sugar (more may be needed)
  • 25g of butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2-3 tablespoons of potato or corn flour

Method – rhubarb filling

  • This needs to be made ahead of time as it must be cold.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM2
  • Chop the rhubarb into small pieces and place in a baking dish
  • Add sugar.
  • Bake in the oven for around 1 hour – till soft.
  • Check for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary – but not too sweet.
  • Leave to cool a little.
  • *
  • I used cooked rhubarb that I had frozen from last year. 
  • *
  • Wizz the rhubarb up with a blender or chopper to get a purée.
  • Place this in a saucepan.
  • Heat slowly.
  • Mix the yolks with the potato or cornflour and add this to the rhubarb and heat till it thickens.
  • Add the butter and mix in.
  • Leave to go cold before use.

A few thoughts on the origin & history of meringues:

  • Meringue – a French word.
  • Swiss village of Meiringen.
  • Improved by Italian chef Gasparini.
  • From Polish word – marzynka – a day dream?
  • Made by the chef for the exiled king of Poland, Stanisław Leszczyński (1677 – 1766), Duke of Lorraine (1737 -1766).
  • His daughter, Maria, was married to Louis XV of France and she introduced them to the court.
  • In Polish – beza(sing)) bezy(pl) – link to – buzi kiss?
  • French meringue – whisk eggs till stiff – add sugar and whisk again.
  • Italian meringue – uses sugar syrup.
  • Swiss meringue – sugar and whites heated over a water bath.
  • Addition of cornflour – strengthens the egg white.

Meringue

  • I used 4 egg whites & 200g icing sugar.
  • Place the whites into a grease free bowl.
  • Whisk till stiff.
  • Add icing sugar and whisk again till stiff.
  • Preheat the oven to GM 1 -140°C.
  • Cover the base with the rhubarb filling and level it out.
  • Cover the rhubarb with the meringue and level it out
  • Put back into the oven for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Cut the cake into squares when cool to serve.

Served here on  Royal Doulton – Counterpoint tea plates 1973 – 1987.

Placek-with sour cherries & meringue

The base of this placek  (flat cake) is made with  a recipe similar to  Ciasto kruche 2 – with cooked egg yolks found in a previous post  – Pastry – ciasto kruche & półkruche.

The base is baked, apricot jam and bottled sour cherries are placed on top, this is topped with meringue and cooked again.

A few stages but well worth the effort. It is delicious with a lovely balance of  sweetness against the sour cherries.

Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 200g butter – chilled
  • 100g  & 150g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs separated
  • pinch or two of salt
  • Fine grated rind of 1 lemon – optional
  • 250ml of apricot jam – approx
  • 1/2 – 3/4 of a jar of morello/sour cherries

Method

Cook the egg yolks

  • Separate the raw yolks from the whites.
  • Place the yolks  in a colander and cook over hot water.
  • Use a fork to break up the yolks into very small pieces.
  • Leave to go cold.

Make the base

  • Add a pinch of salt to the flour.
  • Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the 100g of icing sugar and mix this together.
  • Add the broken up yolks and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.
  • Form the dough into a rough rectangle.
  • Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 7 – 220°C.
  • Grease and line a 33 x 23 cm baking tin.
  • Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough a little
  • Press the dough into the tin – filling it up the all the sides.
  • Prick the surface with a fork.
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes till golden.
  • Leave to cool.

Toppings and meringue

  • Lower the oven to GM 1 -140°C
  • Place the whites into a grease free bowl.
  • Whisk till stiff.
  • Add the 150g of icing sugar and whisk again till stiff.
  • Spread the jam thickly over the base
  • Drain the sour cherries and pat them dry.
  • Arrange the cherries over the jam.
  • Spread the meringue over the cherries taking it up to the edges.
  • Put back into the low heat oven for 45 to 60 minutes.

 

Cut the cake into squares when cool to serve.

 

Served here on Duchess  – Bramble Rose tea plates from the 1960s.