Great British Bake Off fans may remember this gorgeous dessert as the technical challenge on Series 6, episode 4. If you haven't seen it - I recommend taking a watch for Paul and Mary Berry's critics of the bakers performance before baking it yourself!
While the original recipe calls for sugar paste flowers I thought fresh fruit would really bring out the celebratory nature of spring. This delicate and crisp construction is filled with a whipped cream and berry filling that is sure to delight.
This is Mary Berry's recipe . It combines the structural integrity of French meringue with the glossy delicate nature of Swiss meringue.
For the French meringue shell
8 large free-range egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
475g/1lb 1oz superfine sugar
For the Swiss meringue decoration
4 large free-range egg whites
250g/9oz superfine sugar
For the filling
600ml/20fl oz heavy cream
50g/1¾oz powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp orange blossom water
400g/14oz strawberries, roughly chopped
Fresh berries (raspberries and blackberries used here)
(superfine sugar is 7.94 oz/US cup)
1. Line 3 large baking trays with baking parchment. Draw 2 x 20cm/8in circles on 2 of the trays and 1 x 20cm/8in circle on 1 of the trays. (You should end up with 5 x 20cm/8in circles). Preheat the oven to 250 F.
2. For the meringue shell, tip the egg whites and cream of tartar into a large spotlessly clean bowl and whisk with an electric mixer on high speed until the whites form stiff peaks. Add the superfine sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously to make a thick, glossy meringue.
3. Spoon two-thirds of the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a ⅝in plain nozzle. Pipe a thick ring inside one of the circles on the baking tray and continue spiraling until the entire circle is filled. Repeat with a second circle. These create the base and the top of the meringue cake.
4. Repeat the process with the 3 remaining circles, except don't fill in the circles, so that you have three hoops of meringue - these create the sides of the meringue shell. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
5. When the meringues are dry, gently slide 1 of the cooked, filled meringues onto a 12in heatproof serving plate. (Note: I do not have one of these so I used an upside-down pie plate. It worked fine - just be careful during transport.) Spoon the remaining meringue into the piping bag and pipe 8 blobs of meringue, evenly spaced around the edge of the circle. Place 1 of the meringue hoops on top and press down very gently to stick the hoop to the base.
6. Repeat the process with the remaining 2 hoops of meringue. Roughly pipe the remaining one-third of meringue around the sides to disguise the hoops. Using a spatula smooth out the meringue so that the sides are smooth and straight and look like a cake. Bake on the serving plate for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
7. For the Swiss meringue decoration, set a large mixing bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Tip the egg whites and sugar into the bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the meringue reaches 70C on a sugar thermometer.
8. Remove from the heat and continue whisking until cool and stiff. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe a pretty border around the base, the middle and the top edge of the meringue shell. Pipe a border around the outside edge and the middle of the filled meringue circle that will become the lid. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Easter dinner at someone else's house? Stop here and carefully bring everything to where dinner is being served. Complete the last two steps right before serving.
9. For the filling, whip the cream and icing sugar together in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Whisk in the orange blossom water and gently fold in the strawberries and raspberries. Spoon into the cooled meringue cake shell. Top with the meringue lid.
10. To decorate, use tiny blobs of meringue to stick fresh berries around the middle piped border on the sides of the cake, around the top of the cake and in the center of the top of the cake. Serve immediately.