Monday, April 9, 2012

Berry Meringue Slices

Well I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.  At our place it was great weather and my husband decided to take some time to plant some herbs and vegetables.  We have an issue with a lot of winds here, so I am not sure how his poly house will withstand it-but at least he has given it a go.

This particular dessert is a part of Austrian cuisine.  This is actually one of many desserts that falls under the name of a Schnitten.  It is basically a cake layered with berries and meringue.  There are  a lot of variations and this particular recipe hails from a Cafe in Vienna.

The original recipe is with blueberries but there was a variation with raspberries listed, so I decided to go with the raspberries.

As far as the taste, I really did like the combo.  The cake part is almost like the same cake as a traditional pineapple upside down cake, except it had a subtle lemon flavor.  Then you have the burst of fruit from the fresh whole berries all topped with a fluffy, sweet meringue.  This dessert was a hit and it is definitely worth making more than once.  Below is the recipe with some helpful tips at the end.

Berry Meringue Slices
adapted from Kaffeehaus Cookbook

1 3/4 sticks or 14 tbs of butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of  1/2 lemon
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

2 pints of fresh blueberries or 4 cups of raspberries or blackberries or currants (I used 3 pints)
confectioners sugar: 3 tbs if using blueberries
                                 1/4 cup if using blackberries or raspberries
                                 1/2 cup if using currants
1 cup plus 2 tbs granulated sugar
6 large egg whites, room temperature

Prepare a 9X13 cake pan by greasing the interior and lightly dusting with flour.  This dessert will be plated straight from the pieces cut from the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium size bowl sift together the baking powder, flour and salt.  Then take a separate bowl and fill with butter and sugar.  Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, which should take about 3 minutes.  Beat in one egg until the batter is smooth, about 30 seconds each.  Continue with the same process until all the eggs are beaten into the batter.  Then add the vanilla extract and beat again until blended.

Beat 1/2 the sifted ingredients into the batter.  Once all is mixed in, beat in the remaining sifted ingredients.  Then stir in the zest and juice, making sure it is distributed through out the batter.

Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top.  Then place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes.  Cake will be done when the center is touched and lightly springs back. Remove pan and place on cooling rack.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees for the topping.  Beat the egg whites at high speed until it reaches a soft peak consistency.  Then continue to beat and gradually add the granulated sugar.  Once all the sugar is blended, continue to beat the egg whites until they become very stiff.  You want the meringue to be shiny in appearance as well.

Then toss the fruit with the confectioners sugar. Pour or place the fruit on top of the cake.  Place scoops of meringue over the berries and smooth it evenly to cover all of the cake and berries.

Place cake in oven again and let cook 3-5 minutes.  You want the meringue to have some golden cooked streaks on the top.  Remove and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve, cut the cake using a hot water dipped knife and then lift serving out with cake server or spatula. You can prepare this cake a day ahead, refrigerating it.  However, let it come to room temperature before serving.

Helpful hints and tips:

-line the bottom of the pan with parchment, buttering the surface and then dusting with flour, it will make for a cleaner release when plating.
-if using small berries, spoon over top.  For larger, place by hand in rows.
-fold in the flour instead of beating for lighter texture. Beating batter or dough after adding flour can toughen the texture of the cake
- you can use a knife or the back of the spoon to get a textured look on the top of the meringue.  When cooking, the uppermost portions will brown first, leaving the ones below white.
-Due to the varying size of blackberries and raspberries, place the smaller berries to the outside edge and the larger towards the inside  The smaller ones will hold easier than the larger ones..
                                **LAST YEAR: Brioche Bread Loaves***