Well, the only pan I could find was a springform - you know the one with the removable bottom - ok so I find the springform and at the same time my mixing machine is running at high, whipping up something (at this point I have no clue what it is...). I peer into the mixing bowl (in slow motion, you know how in dreams sometimes moving around physically can be such a task?)...and there is this golden yellow cake batter twirling around the beater at hyper-speed.
I know. I think I may need therapy...
I have an idea. I'll pour the cake batter into the springform pan, then top it off with the meringue and bake both elements together! No need to look for another pan, that tedious task I was involved in while searching in vain for that cookie sheet (in my dream, of course).
When I woke up, my pillow was on the floor and I was holding my book-light poised to stir something...I could only hope that I was neither talking in my sleep, nor moving around as if I was actually baking a cake, because my guess is Hubs would certainly have had me committed...
Sometimes dreams are lost upon waking as they have found a place to hide deep inside that part of the brain that is on permanent hiatus and sometimes they remain vivid and clear as a bell even several hours or even days after the dream occurred. I was making an omelette the next morning and was beating egg whites, when the dream suddenly came back to me. I grabbed a pen and paper and began reciting the details in my head, then jotting down notes on the ingredients and coming up with this recipe for Almond Meringue Dream Cake!
I mixed up my favourite yellow cake batter, then the meringue - the same basic recipe I use for Pavlovas and pulled another favourite recipe I use for filled cream puffs (French pastry cream). This cake is so light, only uses 4 eggs and looks impressive - as though you bought it from a pastry shop...
For the cake:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup pure cane sugar
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pure almond extract
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
1 cup berry sugar (or finely ground cane sugar)*
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup natural sliced almonds (with skins)
For the filling:
1/3 cup pure cane sugar
1 tbsp corn starch (I use tapioca starch as most corn products are GMO)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 pint fresh strawberries, about 1 cup chopped, the remainder sliced
1 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp orange juice
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease two 8" springform pans or cake pans with removable bottoms; set aside.
2. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time beating well between additions. In separate bowl, blend flour and baking powder. Add alternately with milk that has been mixed with almond extract. Spread into pans.
1. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form; gradually add sugar, 1 tbsp at a time beating well between each addition. Continue to add sugar and beat until meringue is thick and glossy.
2. Spread 1/2 the meringue over each cake batter layer, drawing up 'spikes' in the meringue with an off-set spatula. Sprinkle with almond slices and bake for about 40 minutes, or until meringue sounds hollow when tapped. Remove cakes from oven and immediately run a sharp knife around the meringue, then loosen the rim of the springform pan; cool completely on wire racks.
* If you don't have berry sugar, you can grind the cane sugar in a coffee grinder - it will dissolve into the egg whites faster and easier.
French vanilla pastry cream:
1. Combine sugar, tapioca starch and salt; gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil and thickens; cook and stir 2-3 minutes longer. Stir a little of the hot mixture into the egg yolk (in a separate bowl); return to hot mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; add vanilla. Cover the entire surface with wax paper (I use soy wax paper as it contains no petroleum); cool. Beat until smooth; fold in whipped cream.
Remove cakes from pans and place one layer on decorative cake plate. Spread French pastry cream over first layer; Sprinkle with chopped strawberries; apply second layer. Dust with confectioner's sugar and garnish with a fresh strawberry. Serve with sliced strawberries that have been marinated in confectioner's sugar and orange juice, as well as a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Serves 8.
Everyone needs a sweet and guilty pleasure...!