Planning on baking along with Great British Bakeoff's Dessert week? Well, we have just the layered showstopper for you! There are few things more spectacular at a dinner party or special lunch than bringing a stunning layered dessert to the table. Served in glass bowls, pretty coloured layers just make you want to dig in with a big spoon. Master Chef UK finalist Hannah Miles shares some of her gorgeous favourites from her cookbook, Layered Desserts.
Hannah says: "Layers of almond sponge and delicate pink meringue all sandwiched together with cream and fresh berries. The cake is topped with pretty meringue peaks, which make a spectacular decoration"
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PINK MERINGUE LAYER BERRY CAKE
For the almond sponge
• 225g/8oz butter, softened
• 225g/8oz caster sugar
• 4 large eggs
• 100g/4oz ground almonds
• 100g/4oz self-raising flour, sifted
• 1 tsp baking powder
For the meringue
• 3 large egg whites
• 175g/6oz caster sugar
• Pink food colouring gel or paste
• 300ml/1/2pt double cream
• 250g/9oz strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
• 3 tbsp strawberry jam
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1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4 and grease and line 2 x 20cm/8in cake tins with baking parchment. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and then fold in the ground almonds, self-raising flour and baking powder. Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes until the cakes are firm and spring back to the touch.
3. Remove the cakes from the oven, turn out from the cake tins and leave to cool completely. Remove the lining paper and place the 2 cakes slightly apart on the lined baking sheet.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 130°C, 250°F, Gas 1/2.
5. For the meringue, in a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks then add the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time together with a little pink food colouring gel, whisking all the time, so that the meringue turns a pretty pink colour. The meringue should be stiff and hold a peak when you lift the beaters or whisk.
6. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe a circle of meringue over the top of one cake in a flat layer. Pipe the remaining meringue in peaks on the other cake, lifting the nozzle up high as you pipe each ball of meringue to make high peaks. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 1–1 1/4 hours until the meringue is crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
7. When you are ready to serve, whip the cream to stiff peaks. Place the cake with the flat layer of meringue on a serving plate and spoon over the whipped cream. Top with the strawberries and the jam and then carefully place the peak-topped meringue cake on top. Serve straightaway. As the cake contains fresh cream, any uneaten cake should be stored in the refrigerator and is best eaten within 2 days.
This recipe from Hannah Miles is from her cookbook, Layered Desserts - available Amazon