Saturday, June 09, 2012

Queen Cakes

This past week we have enjoyed watching the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II who is, in fact, the reigning monarch of Australia. How odd that, at the far end of the world, we are ruled by a monarch instead of being a republic.

While I'm all for a republic I absolutely enjoy the pomp and pageantry the Queen and her family bring to our lives. Even more, I enjoy reading about her ancestors, most notably Henry VIII, his six wives (I am extremely fond of Catherine of Aragon and despite her behaving a shrew, Anne Boleyn). So much so, a few years back I was motivated to take a trip to Britain to trace Anne's footsteps and that of some even earlier kings who built their castle at Old Sarum.

So for the past few months I have been thinking how I might pay tribute to the Queen, and the idea that sprang to mind was a cake version of Queen Pudding. It is a bread and butter pudding, with jam added to the equation, and meringue baked over the top. I don't like bread and butter pudding that much, so I spent a lot of time thinking up how to adapt the idea to a cake. I came up with these little beauties which, you might be delighted to know, are fat free. Although not if you serve them with a dollop of King Island cream, which I think you should.

Happy Diamond Jubilee dear Queen. I can't help but love you.

4 large eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup corn flour
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup strawberry jam - lump free is best
7 strawberries
extra egg white and caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease and line a 28cm x 40cm baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
2. Crack the eggs into the bowl of your Kitchenaid and beat with the whisk attachment on 10th gear until the eggs are frothy. Gradually add the caster sugar and continue to beat for 10 minutes.
3. Gently fold the flours through the egg mix, ensuring all the flour is combined. Do not beat or mix!
4. Spread the sponge mix evenly across the baking tray.
5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the sponge is cooked. If it's still sticky when you touch it, give it three more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray.
6. Use a 5cm round cutter to cut rounds out of the cold sponge. You should get about 15 rounds (some may be a little crunchy on the edges).
7. Clean your Kitchenaid bowl and place the egg whites in it. Beat with the whisk attachment on 10th gear until soft peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the sugar has disolved - about 5 minutes.
8. Clean the baking tray and line again with baking paper. Make sure it is very flat.
9. Spread about one and a half teaspoons of jam on the bottom of a round and sandwich it onto the top of another round. Try and match rounds so that they all roughly end up the same height. You'll have one round left over. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius again.

10. Using a small palette knife, spread the meringue around the sides of each cake. I held mine with thumb on the top and forefinger on the bottom as I spread around the edges. Try not to get any on the bottom as they will stick to the baking paper.
11. Carefully place on the baking paper on the tray and spread meringue over the top of the top so that the cake is fully covered. Repeat until all rounds are covered and you have seven cakes on the tray.
12. Bake in the oven for 3-5mins until the cakes are very lightly brown on the peaks. My slow gas oven took five minutes, but if you have a fan forced electric oven it might only take three.
13. While the cakes cool on the tray paint the strawberries with egg white and roll in the extra caster sugar. Set aside to allow the sugar to harden.
14. Carefully transfer the cakes to serving plates. Place a frosted strawberry on the top of each. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Note: these cakes taste great warm, but they're also fine cold. They will keep for three days.

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