Wow, four recipes to go – well here’s another one to tick of the list…
I intended on cooking this last weekend, but my son found the bag of apricots in the cupboard and managed to munch his way through most of them before I realised. I didn’t even think he liked dried apricots – but I mustn’t complain it’s one of his five-a day!!
Everybody was out, so I had the house to myself, so I thought I’d go into the kitchen to bake. It’s my son’s birthday on Monday so my next cake will be his birthday cake!
The oven was turned on to preheat at Fan 120°C and two baking trays were lined with parchment. On one side of the parchment (the under-side) I drew around two 20cm (8″) tins to make a template of the size of meringue circles I required.
Into a mixing bowl I added 4 egg whites (I had to do this twice as when I cracked the third egg the yolk fell into the whites too and split, so there was no way that I could have got it out). Never mind I had asked my husband to get me lots of eggs whilst he was out (my chickens have stopped laying at the moment as they don’t get enough hours of daylight, so I’ve had to resort to buying eggs again for a while). Once I had four egg whites these were whisked together until they were stiff. It was then on with the laborious part, adding 225g caster sugar a teaspoon at a time and mixing each teaspoon in well before the addition of the next spoon. Once the sugar had all been added, it was lovely and shiny and the peaks were nice and stiff.
Lastly I had to fold in 75g ground almonds. The mixture was then divided between the two baking trays and spread out into the 20cm circles. Into the oven they went for one and a quarter hours. I checked after an hour, but didn’t think they were quite ready. Mary says the parchment should peel away from the bottom (although they may stick a little in the middle as they are quite a sticky meringue). My meringues were sticking a little too much so I left them in for another 15 minutes.
I had a complete catastrophe with the first meringue when I removed it from the tray and parchment. The parchment peeled off lovely with it just sticking a little bit in the middle. However, I don’t know whether I was all fingers and thumbs or it was just the meringue but as I went to place it on the cooling tray it began to crack and break up. Aaaargh, I managed to get it onto the tray but it didn’t look too good! The second one I decided to do differently. I slid the meringue and baking parchment onto the cooling rack and lifted it literally a few centimetres off the rack. I then peeled back the parchment and managed to get this one onto the cooling rack without a single break or crack … phew!
Whilst the meringues were cooling it was on with the filling. Into a small pan I put 100g dried apricots and added to this 150ml water and a strip of lemon rind. This was heated gently for around 20 minutes after which time the apricots were tender. The apricots were removed and blitzed until smooth. I did add about a tablespoon of the water to my apricots as they mixture seemed a little thick to me.
The next job was to heat gently 150ml water and 100g granulated sugar in a saucepan until the sugar had dissolved. Once dissolved the juice of half a lemon was added. The mixture was then brought to the boil for 3 minutes to make a sugar syrup. The pan was put to one side to cool.
Finally 150ml double cream was whipped together until it held its shape. To this I added a third of the apricot purée and mixed it in. By now the meringues were cold, so it was time to assemble the gâteau. I decided to use the broken meringue at the bottom. This was carefully put onto a plate and the apricot cream was spooned onto the top and spread out using a pallete knife. The top was put on very carefully, but for some reason I hadn’t put it on level and whilst moving it I managed to crack the top, aaargh, so frustrating! Icing sugar was then sprinkled over the top and I then read that the top should be decorated with rosettes of whipped cream. I quickly read through the last part of the recipe again, should I have saved some of the apricot cream back to pipe on the top. No it didn’t say to put half the cream onto the meringues, it was ‘the cream’. Luckily I had bought a large pot of double cream, so I had quite a lot left over. A small amount was quickly whipped up and rosettes were piped onto the top.
One more thing – you had to make a sauce with the remaining apricot purée and the sugar syrup. I added the purée to the sugar syrup and mixed it in. I wasn’t happy with it, my purée obviously wasn’t as smooth as it looked, so I decided to pass it through a fine sieve. Now it looked a lovely sauce. The photo doesn’t give the colour credit, it really is a bright orange.
It was evening by the time the family were all home, so I had to wait until then to try it. It was one of those desserts that no matter how you cut it, it wasn’t going to cut cleanly. The meringue was as Mary says very chewy in the middle and the apricot sauce was very intense indeed. I love apricots, but even this sauce was a little too sweet for my liking, I actually thought it rather sickly, although the rest of the family enjoyed it.
Will I make it again, no I don’t think so, it seemed a lot of effort for what you actually ended up with. Sorry, Mary!
Sorry about the photos, these were taken in very poor lighting!