Photo: Oddur Thorisson
To celebrate the first official day of spring, we bring you a lush garden cake from Mimi Thorisson’s cookbook, A Kitchen in France. Thorisson also writes a popular blog, Manger, where she shares tried-and-true rustic recipes as well as a glimpse into her life in the French countryside. To make this meringue cake ultra springy, she takes green leaves and fresh flowers from her garden and places them all over. Just be careful to remove the flowers before eating them if you also take them from the garden! As Thorisson notes, “The flowers and leaves in the photo are not edible and were used purely for decorative purposes.”
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1¾ cups/350 g superfine sugar
1 cup/250 ml heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Big handfuls of your favorite berries (I use raspberries, blueberries, and red currants)
Pretty organic/unsprayed edible flowers and leaves of your choice
Preheat the oven to 275°F/135°C. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large very clean bowl (make sure that there are no traces of grease in it, or the whites will not whip to their fullest), beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until they form soft peaks. Still whipping, add the sugar little by little, so it is well dissolved, then whip until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
Using a narrow spatula, form 2 meringues, each 8 inches/20 cm across and 2 inches/5 cm high, on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until the meringues are crisp on top, about 55 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven, with the door propped open, for 25 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.
Whip the cream until it is light, fluffy, and holds soft peaks. Add the vanilla extract.
Spread half of the whipped cream over one of the meringues. Scatter as many berries as you like over the cream and sandwich the other meringue on top, flat side up. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top of the second meringue. Now you can enjoy decorating your cake with berries, leaves, and flowers—all things bright and beautiful. The cake is best eaten immediately.
NOTE: I don’t add sugar to the whipped cream because the meringue is very sweet. If you prefer to sweeten the cream, add ¼ cup / 30 g sifted confectioners’ sugar.
Reprinted from A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse by Mimi Thorisson (Clarkson Potter, 2014).
More cakes that celebrate spring: