Eton Mess Cake

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.

Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.

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. 

Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.

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. 

Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringue, and fresh berries.
Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.
Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.
Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.
Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.

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. 

Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.

For the full recipe, head over to The Cake Blog!

Strawberry Eton Mess + Food Styling with Aran Goyoaga: Part 1

StrawberryPavlova2 If you did not already know, my first true love is cake design.  I've always loved how one can manipulate sugar and cake to express themselves creatively, making beautiful works of edible art.  In order to capture this expression, I turned to blogging.  While my local clients and loved ones are able to taste the treats I make, I wanted to find a way to translate this experience to audiences beyond my kitchen.  It has certainly been a process to understand how to do this successfully, but it made me discover a second, new love: food photography.  By no means am I pro yet, but I do feel that at least a few of the countless hours I spent scouring over images from my favorite food bloggers and studying food styling has helped improve my skills.

One of my favorite food stylist and biggest inspirations in Aran Goyoaga of the blog Cannelle et Vanille.  She is a pastry chef, turned blogger, turned author and world- renowned food photographer.  Goyoaga and her family recently moved to Seattle, WA around the same time that I moved to Vancouver.  I was thrilled to find this out, should there be any opportunity to meet her or learn from her.  As my luck would have it, Goyoaga taught a food styling and photography workshop in Seattle last weekend, and I was able to attend!

Snap-shots of Aran Goyoaga styling at out photography workshop: Aran-Plums-Trio Aran-Carrots-TrioI knew one day of photography was not going to be nearly enough, but I tried to soak in as much information and inspiration as possible.  Goyoaga spoke of camera basics, her experiences as a food stylist, and her philosophies on photography.  Most importantly, we discussed natural lighting and how it reflects mood and tone for an image.  Later in the class, Goyoaga performed some "live styling," where she went through her process of styling dishes, finding the right lighting, setting exposure, and taking photos.  The rest of the class was devoted to styling our own dishes, practicing the skills we learned, and troubleshooting with Goyoaga herself.  We were welcome to her collections of linens, tabletops, and other items from her prop closet to help style our photos.  Below you will find photos that depict my process to styling the Strawberry Eton Mess dish I choose to create:

Setup

StrawberryPavlova0

StrawberryPavlova

StrawberryPavlova3

Be on the look out for more pics and a recipe of this dish in Part 2 next week!