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juniper's avatar

Can you help me with this cake recipe?

Asked by juniper (1899points) April 22nd, 2009

Here’s the recipe: http://www.joyofbaking.com/MeringueCake.html

I have two questions:

1. This cake seems odd because you’re supposed to put the meringue on top of the unbaked cake layer and bake them together. Wouldn’t the meringue layer prevent the cake layer from cooking all the way? Or would it sink into the cake layer or something? Seems tricky. I’m considering baking the cake layers first and adding the meringue (unbaked) at the end.

2. What’s the secret to those “stiff, white peaks?”

What do you think, fellow bakers? I’m trying to make this for my friend’s birthday today, so I want it to be nice. :)

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13 Answers

hannahsugs's avatar

The recipe breaks down as follows:
1) Instructions on separating the eggs, then set them aside while you make the basic cake.

2) Instructions for the cake, ending with “Divide the batter…Set aside.”

3) Instructions for the meringue.

I would NOT diverge from the recipe so far as to change the baking instructions. Meringue is a very unique substance, and if you’ve never worked with it before, maybe you should choose a different recipe. The Meringue should not sink into the cake, nor prevent it from cooking. Meringue is not like whipped cream, and it’s neither exactly liquid nor solid, it’s a very special substance. You should NOT serve the meringue unbaked, that’s not how it works. Meringue needs to be baked before you eat it, it’s not like whipped cream. Follow the recipe or choose a different one.

Let us know how it turns out.

juniper's avatar

@hannahsugs: Thank you so very much. Of course the meringue needs to be baked: duh. I’ve tried meringue only one other time…it turned out kinda flat. I was thinking of doing an experimental batch first, today. I’d really like to get it!

eponymoushipster's avatar

Cream of tartar is a good way to get those peaks. Or a pinch of salt.

crisw's avatar

And, as far as the “stiff white peaks”- chilled eggs and chilled, absolutely clean bowl and beaters.

hannahsugs's avatar

Sorry if I came across as a bit terse. I was concerned by your statement that you were “considering baking the cake layers first and adding the meringue (unbaked) at the end.”

I’ve had enough of my own baking disasters that I do my best to help others avoid them!

Also, I missed your last question. For stiff peaks, make sure you’re using a good strong beater, with a CLEAN, preferably metal or glass bowl. Any fat (oil, egg yolk, or butter) that is on your beaters, in your bowl, or mixed in with your eggwhites will prevent them from beating up until stiff. Once beaten, handle the meringue gently to avoid flattening it.

hannahsugs's avatar

@crisw: I think room-temperature eggs are recommended, (the opposite as for whipping cream). However, Cooks Illustrated did a test and found that the temperature of the eggs didn’t matter much.

crisw's avatar

@hannahsugs
Thanks, good to know. I know the clean bowl/beaters is important, though!

juniper's avatar

@hannahsugs, no problem! I’m glad you set me straight. Actually, I wouldn’t even have thought of doing that, except that a friend suggested it today. Glad you saved me, there.

Also, the recipe says to “gently smooth the top” of the meringue. Wouldn’t this be “flattening” it? Help.

hannahsugs's avatar

Gently smooth it to make it look pretty, and avoid any sticking-out parts that could bake faster/burn. Handle with care, as minimally as possible, and you should be fine.

juniper's avatar

Wow, thank you! One more thing:

It says that when you are assembling the baked layers, you should place the first layer meringue side down, so the meringue is flattened against the serving plate, right? That seems odd to me. Doesn’t it make more sense to have the meringue facing up, at least with the bottom cake layer?

zephyr826's avatar

I think you want it to be more like a sandwich. The meringue will squish a little, but not entirely. good luck on the recipe. I’m crossing my fingers for you.

VS's avatar

I would only add that to achieve those nice fluffy stiff peaks with meringue, be sure there is not a speck of grease anywhere on your beater blades or the bowl or the peaks will not form. I don’t think the temp of the eggs matters much either, but I like to leave mine out for half an hour or so before I use them.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@juniper: So, how did it turn out??

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