I absolutely adore meringues, in all its forms, but a meringue cake has to be one of the most beautiful and special desserts ever! I absolutely love enjoying my meringue with fresh fruit too, so getting creative with the Union Jack design on top just had to be done!
A special bake for a special occasion
Meringues are normally enjoyed in smaller, individual creations, such as in an Eton mess, or larger and more commonly as a pavlova. I love the versatility of this simple creation, that it can be used to create so many different desserts, including flavours and fillings to match.
Remember too that meringue is often used as the base for other desserts too, such as macarons or even as the base for fillings and toppings such as swiss meringue buttercream. Being quite so versatile a sweet creation makes the humble meringue recipe all the more special to master, for me!
And as if this was not enough, meringues were one of my gorgeous mum’s favourite desserts, she would always ask me to make some for her. She took such pleasure and enjoyment from them, I would often see her simply enjoying individual meringues for pleasure, without any fruit, cream or other toppings.
What ingredients do I need to make this meringue cake?
- Egg whites: the base for meringues are egg whites. Use eggs as fresh as possible, and at room temperature for best results.
- Lemon juice: gives the meringue cake recipe stability when baked.
- Cornflour: helps keep the middle of the meringue wonderfully chewy, and also helps prevent the meringue weeping during baking.
- Salt: a little pinch, just to round off the flavour of the vanilla meringue cake.
- Caster sugar: I use white caster sugar to make this pavlova cake, but you could use golden caster sugar for a slightly more caramel flavour if you wish too.
- Mascarpone: used in the creamy filling for the meringue cake. Check out my notes below about this for the filling.
- Vanilla: used in the filling for beautiful flavour.
- Double/heavy cream: essential for the filling in this meringue layer cake.
- Icing sugar: to sweeten the filling when making this meringue cake.
- Jam: to drizzle in between the meringue layers along with the mascarpone cream filling.
- Fresh berries: I used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries to create this Union Jack design on top of the meringue cake, but you can use any combination of fruit you wish.
Equipment required for this meringue cake
- Parchment paper: needed to draw the circles on before baking the meringue layers.
- Baking trays*: to bake the meringues on.
- Digital kitchen scales*: I provide all my measurements in cups too, however I would encourage all bakers to weigh out ingredients when baking. A set of digital kitchen scales is so useful and totally an essential baking tool for me.
- Measuring spoons*: a set of measuring spoons is essential for any baker. This is because these are more accurate than using everyday teaspoons and tablespoons, which can vary greatly in size.
- Stand mixer*/Handheld electric mixer*: both useful tools to make life easier in the kitchen! You can, of course, make this whole recipe entirely by hand. But it will be quite the workout for your arm!
- Large mixing bowl*: to mix together the mascarpone cream filling before using to put the meringue cake together.
- Spatula*: helpful to scoop out the meringue and the cream from the mixing bowls when making this pavlova cake.
How to make meringue cake
The true beauty of this bake is that a lot of it can be prepared in advance. This makes it a brilliant bake for entertaining! Assemble the meringue cake just before serving to keep the meringue crisp and not soggy.
For the meringues
Step 1: Cut three pieces of parchment paper large enough to cover three baking trays. Draw an 8″ circle on each of the pieces of paper, then flip it over so the drawn on side is face down. Use some tape to stick the papers to each baking tray then set them aside. Preheat the oven to 120C/250F.
Step 2: Before you start making the meringues, clean out the mixing bowl throughly and give it a quick wipe over with a few (additional) drops of lemon juice (see notes for why). Tip the egg whites and lemon juice into the clean bowl and whisk on a high speed for a few minutes until the mixture is foamy. Add in the cornflour and salt and mix through.
Step 3: With the mixer on medium-high, add the sugar in one tablespoon at a time, mixing for about 10 seconds between additions, until all the sugar has been incorporated. Keep mixing until the meringue mixture forms stiff peaks and is smooth and glossy. This takes me about 7-8 minutes in total.
Step 4: Divide the meringue mixture between the three parchment circles, spreading it out to the drawn edges and levelling the tops. Place all three trays in the warm oven and bake for 60-65 minutes until the meringues look matte. Once the baking time is up, turn the oven off and leave the door shut. Allow the meringues to cool completely in the oven for a few hours or overnight.
For the mascarpone filling and assembly
Step 1: Place the mascarpone and vanilla in a mixing bowl and mix to combine. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat together the double cream and icing sugar until just starting to reach soft peaks.
Step 2: Add the mascarpone mixture to the whipped cream and mix it all together until smooth and it reaches firm peaks. Set aside until ready to assemble and serve.
Step 3: When ready to assemble, place one layer of meringue on a plate or cake stand. Gently spread ⅓ the mascarpone mixture over the meringue and drizzle with some jam. Repeat with second meringue, another ⅓ mascarpone cream, jam, the last meringue layer and the final ⅓ cream.
Step 4: Hull the strawberries and slice them in half lengthways. Arrange the strawberry halves in a cross, then arrange the raspberries in lines to form an ‘x’ in between the lines of the cross. Finally, fill in the triangles with blueberries, leaving some of the white cream visible between each of the fruit. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Do I need to keep this meringue cake in the fridge?
This strawberry meringue cake should be served soon after it is assembled, and so does not need to be kept in the fridge before you serve it.
How far in advance can I make the meringues?
You can make the bases up to 24 hours before you want to serve this dessert. Too much more will result in them starting to soften and lose their crisp outer shell.
How long does meringue cake pavlova last?
Once the meringue cake as been assembled, the whole thing is best being consumed within a couple of hours. If left longer, the meringue shell will dissolve from the moisture of the filling and the whole cake will lose its texture, turning instead into delicious layers of sweet fluffiness instead!
Can I freeze this pavlova cake recipe?
Unfortunately, this cake cannot be frozen as neither the meringue nor cream filling will freeze very well.
Tips for making the best meringue cake
- Make sure the mixing bowl is thoroughly clean and grease free before beating the egg whites up. Grease inhibits the eggs from whipping up, so you will not be able to get it mixed up to bake.
- Separate the eggs carefully, as any egg yolks will have a similar effect as grease, and prevent the egg whites from whipping up.
- When adding sugar to the egg white mixture, adding it a spoonful at a time allows the sugar to be properly incorporated and dissolve into the mixture. This is important to give a smooth and not grainy meringue.
- A great (and brave!) way to test if the egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks is to turn the bowl upside down. If they are sufficiently beaten, the mixture will remain in the bowl and not fall out. If they are not, they will slide out. Do it slowly so you can check, and also so you can avoid the mess and clean up in case they are not ready yet!
- Once the meringue layers are baked, it is really important NOT to open the oven door. Opening the door will change the temperature of the oven really quickly, resulting in cracks in the meringues. This is why it is vital to leave them to cool completely in the oven once baked. Overnight is ideal to ensure the oven is not accidentally turned on for any other reason!
- The mascarpone cream filling can be made a few hours ahead and chilled until required for assembly, making it much more convenient to bring together.
- Serve the whole raspberry meringue cake as soon as it has been put together, so it is enjoyed at its best. This bake will not keep well and should be eaten and enjoyed once made.
If you have any questions about this meringue cake recipe, please comment below and I will do my best to help. And do remember: if you enjoy this recipe for pavlova cake, please leave a rating and review below. You could even post a picture on Instagram and tag me when you share it with the world. You already know I would love to see!
More recipes from my blog for you to enjoy
Chocolate strawberry cheesecake: These beauties have a deep cookies and cream crust, a silky smooth chocolate cheesecake filling and a hidden strawberry middle. I like to make them as mini no bake chocolate cheesecakes, but this could easily be made as one larger no bake chocolate cheesecake too!
Lemon blueberry doughnuts: My baked lemon blueberry doughnuts are absolutely delicious! A soft fluffy lemon donut with beautiful pops of blueberry topped with a stunning blueberry glaze. These taste every bit as good as they look, a real showstopper!
White chocolate and raspberry tart: One of my all time favourite flavour combinations, this white chocolate and raspberry tart is sure to be a popular one with everyone who tries it. Soft set raspberry and white chocolate layers sit on a delicious biscuit crumb base. It is wonderfully easy to make and a truly elegant dessert that will wow your guests.
Thanks for joining me today, my friends. Hope you enjoy making and sharing this stunning cake and happy baking! x