Layers of light, fluffy sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries – this is a take on the classic British Eton Mess and Victoria Sponge Cake turned into one delightful treat.
One of my favorite pastimes is to read and collect cookbooks. Even though I spend a majority of my time doing something food-related, I can’t help but scour over the delicious recipes, witty headnotes, and swoon-worthy images that make up the collection of cookbooks that line my shelves, are stacked on my bedside table, and fill any available storage space our little apartment can spare.
I’d love to find more inspiration for my own recipes out in the real world, and I dread not having traveled more often when I had the freedom to do so. Fortunately, I live in a blossoming international city that is overflowing with different cultures and fabulous food. But for those times that I can’t get out to a restaurant of even a corner café for weeks, at least there are the dog-eared and bookmarked pages of my cookbooks for me to get lost in and inspired from.
I have this huge thing for meringues. Petite, piped stars and kisses in an array of colors to giant, cloud-like puffs nearly the size of my head – I love them all. Sinking my teeth into the crispy exterior and letting the chewy middles melt in my mouth is almost as gratifying as that initial “crunch” when digging into crème bruleé. Two of the most satisfying food pleasures, if you ask me.
Meringues are great on their own, but I love incorporating them into other desserts. But beyond pavlova, I get a little stumped. Thankfully the Meringue Girls wrote a whole book on desserts all involving meringue in some way, shape, or another. Baked or used as a topping, these gals have come with more ways to enjoy meringue throughout the seasons than I ever dreamed possible. Alex and Stacey have quite literally transformed a classic into dozens of new confections. Based out of London, I love reading about their Willy Wonka desserts with a British influence and reminiscing about the my travels “across the pond.” That being said, I especially love their twist on a British favorite: Eton Mess.
A combination of crisp meringues, sweetened cream, and fresh berries, Eton Mess is a perfect balance of flavors and textures. It was created with simplicity, versatility, and ease in mind – assuming you keep meringue cookies on hand (do Brits do that?). Simply whip up some cream, throw in some seasonal fruit, crush up your baked meringue and VIOLA!
Now of course, this doesn’t look like a traditional Eton Mess that is usually served in a dish, not slice-form. In fact, it’s pretty far from traditional... Going along with the British theme, I’ve been enamored with the simplicity of a Victoria Sponge Cake for some time. Classic sponge, sweetened cream, and fruit jam – it was named after Queen Victoria who enjoyed a slice with her afternoon tea. Now who wouldn’t want to adapt that tradition into their day to day? Coincidently (or perhaps not a coincidence at all), Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth and April Carter’s Decorated have some of the finest examples of Victoria Sponge Cakes in their books (both London-based authors/bakers) that I swoon over on a regular basis.
For this cake, I took both the Eton Mess and the Victoria Sponge Cake and smushed them together! I swapped the fruit jam for fresh berries and stuffed the crispy, baked meringue bits between the layers of sponge and cream. Once assembled all together, the crispy meringue bits nearly melt into the cream - each bite a perfect harmony of texture and sweetness.
For the full recipe, head over to The Cake Blog!