I was encouraged recently to enter a competition I saw over on Twitter to bake a cake #fitforaqueen being run by Kitchenways, details of the competition are in the link. Earlier in the year I baked a cake that I named my Elizabeth cake but felt I could improve it and make it more refined for the royal birthday so here it is:
English Country Garden Coronet Cake
The cake is a featherlight lemon sponge filled with a fresh lemon curd cream, fresh strawberries and blueberries. It is surrounded by a coronet of meringue shards that have been decorated with dried cornflowers and freeze dried strawberry pieces. The whole cake is topped with fresh edible red, white and blue British grown organic flowers from Maddocks Farm with a tiny gold coronet nestled in the centre of the garden. I have chosen these flavours as they say fresh British produce and flavours to me with a hint of Eton Mess combined with a WI feel lemon curd. The flowers are reminiscent of a typical English country garden in spring and come from an enterprising British company.
Its quite a technical bake in several aspects but in case you wanted to make this cake here comes the recipe. Alternatively bake your own #fitforaqueen cake and enter the competition yourself.
2 egg whites
150g caster sugar
Dried cornflower petals
Freeze dried strawberries (6g tube)
Lemon curd cream
4 egg yolks
grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
100g caster sugar
250ml double cream
100g caster sugar
100g plain flour
extra 60g sugar
Fresh edible organic flowers
Gold sugar paste / crown cutter
Firstly make the shards
Prepare two large baking trays with silicon sheets or parchment paper at least 30 cm x 20 in size.
Preheat the oven to 100C fan
Then make sure the stand mixer is super squeaky clean, I rinse the bowl and whisk in a little white wine vinegar, then dry with a paper towel.
Add the egg whites to the bowl and switch on the mixer really low.
Put the sugar in a glass bowl and warm in the microwave for 1 – 2 minutes.
Once the sugar is slightly warm it will stick just a little to the edges of the glass bowl and feel just warm to the touch.
Once the egg whites are nice and loose and the sugar is warm , turn the mixer up and whisk to a soft peak
Once this stage is reached turn the mixer to a medium speed and slowly spoon by spoon add the sugar. Whisk really well between each addition.
Once all the sugar has been added continue to whisk on a highish speed until the meringue is stiff and glossy and if you rub a little between your fingers you cannot feel the sugar granules.
Dollop half of the mixture on each sheet and spread out flat and rectangular shapes with a palette knife – about 20 x 30cm . they should be as even as possible and only a few mm thick.
Sprinkle with the dried cornflowers but not the strawberries yet!
Bake for 40/45 mins until dry all the way through and lifting easily from the parchment.
Remove, sprinkle with the strawberry pieces and spray very lightly with water to fix.
Allow to cool
To make the curd cream
Put the egg yolks, grated rind and juice with the sugar into a bain marie ( or a heatprrof bowl). Place over a pan of barely simmering water and stir constantly until the curd thickens.
Once thickened sufficiently it will come away from the edges of the pan, be glossy and settle in position.
Transfer to another dish and cover with cling film, allowing the film to connect with the mixture. Leave to cool completely – you will finish the cream later.
To make the sponge
Grease and line the base and sides of 4 shallow 6 inch tins, (or as I did 2 shallow and 1 deep tin as I don’t have 4 shallow ones!).
Preheat the oven to 160C fan.
Put the flour and the rind of one lemon in a bowl, whisk with a small hand whisk.
Put the 4 eggs and 100g caster sugar into a separate heatproof bowl.
Place over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk until tripled in volume and leaves a trail in the mixture. It will start looking like this:
and end up like this
leaving a trail looks like this!
Carefully fold in the flour and lemon rind mixture, take great care not to deflate the mixture too much.
Share evenly between the tins, each layer should have about 100g of mixture.
Bake for about 20 minutes (maybe 25 if you are using deep pans)
Whilst it is baking mix the remaining 60g sugar with the lemon juice and a couple of tablespoons of water in a small heavy bottomed pan. Warm through to dissolve the sugar.
Once baked the sponges will be firm but springy to the tough and golden brown on top.
Remove and pierce several times with a cocktail stick, brush each layer of sponge with the syrup.
Allow to cool.
Once cold you may need to split the sponge if you used a deep pan. Pop in the freezer for 5 minutes. the carefully with a very sharp knife or electric knife split the sponge in two.
You are almost ready to construct!
To make the shards carefully move the meringue to a chopping board. use a very sharp knife and score lines 2.5cm apart along the short length to separate each shard. Be warned they are very fragile and will break but don’t panic you will have enough to work with and can always patch them back together on the cake.
Finish the lemon cream by whipping the double cream to soft peaks.
Take a spoonful or two of the cream and add to the lemon curd to loosen it, then transfer that back into the cream and fold in together. Give it all one last short whip to a smooth consistency
Chop the strawberries in to small pieces.
Make up the cake with a thick layer of cream topped with the strawberries and blueberries between each layer.
Finally cover the whole cake in the cream sides and top!
Stick the shards all around the cake breaking them off to the length you require.
Finish off with your fresh flowers and crown made from gold paste using a crown cutter.
Allow to firm up in the fridge for an hour or so before you cut is as its a super soft cake