Recipe by Megan Muldowney, The Cafe Baker
Images by Tracie Heaseman
This vanilla infused sponge is beautiful and will please nearly everyone as it’s decadent but not too rich. The sponge can be made ahead of time and frozen. The meringues can also be made in advance and stored in an airtight container, making the process easier. I have suggested 75ml of Frangelico liqueur for the assembly, any more and the young ones may not like it.
2 egg whites
⅔ cup caster sugar
½ vanilla bean
1 tsp Frangelico liqueur
1 vanilla bean
⅔ cup caster sugar (170g)
4 eggs (size 7)
⅔ cup self-raising flour (100g)
½ cup cornflour (60g)
300g Tatua mascarpone
Half a vanilla bean
1 tsp Frangelico liqueur
2 tbsp caster sugar
For the assembly
75ml Frangelico liquer
Meringues (crush half of them)
These can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.
In a small bowl, place the egg whites, caster sugar, vanilla seeds and Frangelico liqueur. Beat for 15 minutes until stiff, smooth and glossy. Pipe small stars onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake low and slow, 100°C for an hour. When cooked, turn the oven off and leave them to cool down for 20 minutes with the oven door closed. After 20 minutes, open the door slightly and leave for another 30 minutes. This will prevent cracking.
Make up a vanilla sugar by scraping out the seeds of the vanilla bean and processing it with the caster sugar (in a food processor). Set aside.
Measure out the flour and cornflour and sift into a bowl. Set aside.
Line 2x 23cm round sponge tins with baking paper, set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until well combined, about a minute. Continue beating the eggs while gradually adding the caster sugar, about a dessert spoon at a time, until all the sugar has been beaten in. This process should take 2–3 minutes. Continue beating for 10 minutes (important) until the eggs are super thick and light in colour.
In very small amounts (about 1 dessert spoon at a time), fold the flour/cornflour into the egg mixture. I do this by sifting 1 dessert spoon of the flour mix over the entire surface area of the egg mixture, then fold in the flour using a large spatula. This process takes about 4 minutes. It’s tempting to fold more flour in at a time, but you run the risk of having a lumpy sponge.
Bake in an oven at 170°C for about 18–20 minutes.
When you take the sponges out of the oven, run a knife around the edge to release the sponge from the sides.
In a small bowl put the mascarpone, cream, seeds of the vanilla bean, Frangelico liqueur and caster sugar, beat until thick. It needs to be thick enough to hold its shape when you spread it.
Assembling the cake
Cut each sponge in half, horizontally, so you have four separate layers. Put the cake together on the serving platter you intend to use, as you can’t easily transfer this cake once it’s complete.
Place the first layer of sponge on the serving platter and sprinkle with Frangelico liqueur, about 1 tablespoon. Now smear a layer of mascarpone mixture over the surface of the cake, sprinkle some crushed meringue on top of this and place the second layer of sponge on top. Repeat this process for the next two layers, finishing off with a final layer of sponge.
Now using a palate knife cover the entire cake with the remaining mascarpone mix. Then press crushed meringue onto the sides of the cake. When that is done, sprinkle a final layer of crushed meringue on top.
Decorate the top with the remaining whole meringues. Brush off all the excess crushed meringue that has dropped onto the serving platter and enjoy. This cake needs to be stored in the refrigerator and will last a few days.