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Strawberry and Almond Meringue Layer Cake



6 egg whites
1.5 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
150g ground almonds, toasted

To serve:
Pastry cream (recipe below)
2 chips of strawberries, hulled and sliced
Freeze-dried raspberries

Pastry cream:
2 cups full cream milk
1 vanilla bean, split
6 egg yolks
¾ cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
whipped cream and/or mascarpone to lighten


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Draw 4 x 20cm rounds on the baking paper (2 rounds to each piece). Turn the paper over so ink side is down.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a little at a time, beating well between each addition.

3. Sift in the cornflour and add the vanilla extract and white vinegar. Fold in the almond meal.

4. Spread or pipe the meringue evenly over the circles. Place in the oven and bake for 60 minutes, then turn the oven off and allow the meringue to dry for a further 30 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve:

Layer each meringue circle with pastry cream and sliced strawberries.

Finish with a layer of pastry cream, strawberries and freeze-dried raspberries, both whole and crushed.

Or you could use fresh raspberries and strawberries.

Pastry Cream:

Place the milk and vanilla bean in a heavy-based saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring up to boiling point. Remove from the heat and set aside to allow the flavours to infuse. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds back into the milk.

Place the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour into a bowl and mix until light and creamy. Pour in the milk, then return to the rinsed-out-saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook until the pastry cream thickens, stirring continuously. Cook long enough to cook out the cornflour. Remove from the heat and beat well until smooth and the pastry cream is very thick. Place in a bowl, cover to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool.

When cold, fold in enough stiffly whipped cream and/or mascarpone to lighten.