Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Lesson learned: never trust any oven other than your own. I have learned this the hard way.
Last week I have divided the bacon pistachio cookies into 2, planning to bake half the batch at my mom's place for them to try. I could have baked them in my own oven and bring the finished cookies to her in an air tight container, but I was running out of time. I just had to cut the log up and place it in the oven. No big deal, right?
I had used my mom's oven quite often when I was still living with her. I knew that the oven has a tendency to burn things at the bottom. I therefore took extra caution when baking my cookies: chose a light silver baking tray versus a dark non-stick tray, and put the baking tray closer to the top half of the oven. Then only after 10 mins in the oven the cookies are almost burned at the bottom. Sigh... Lucky I caught that on time, and then lower the temperature and flip the cookies over to finish the baking time. They are still edible, but not ideal.
So lesson learned, never trust someone else's oven, and never trust recipes blindly.
This weekend was my aunt's birthday and she had requested crunch cake. There is actually no cake in a crunch cake. The "cake" is actually made of egg white meringues. They are light, airy, crisp and crunchy, and surprisingly not difficult to make.
Strawberry Crunch Cake
Almond Meringue Layer
Adapted from George Brown College Recipe
For 1 - 3 layers of 8" meringue, with extra for a couple of mini meringues
86g ground almonds
6 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp good almond extract
1. Draw 3 -8" circles on 2 pieces of parchment paper. Flip over and place it on 2 baking trays. Preheat your oven to 275F to 300F.
2. Blend together ground almonds and cornstarch, set aside.
3. Whip egg whites to a thick foam, slowly add the sugar and continue to whip until it becomes stiff peaks.
4. Fold in vanilla and almond extract.
5. In 2 to 3 batches, fold in the ground almond mixture. Make sure there are no lumps or big air pockets.
6. Use a plain piping tip #5 or #6 (not the small Wilton decorating tips, but the big baking tips), pipe the meringue on the parchment in a spiral within the circles. When piping, the tip should be half an inch above the paper, and there should be no gaps between the spiral.
7. Bake for about 1hour & 15 mins until the meringue is dry. Keep an eye at around 1 hour to check on colour. Reduce temperature as necessary. Good meringues should be dry but a light cream colour.
When the meringues are cooled, pipe Chantilly cream with a star tip. Decorate with fruit. Lightly apply more cream and stack another meringue on top. Repeat with another layer and finish the top layer with fruit.
This cake is best to serve the day of assembly. The longer it sits, the higher chance of cracks to develop. You can bake the meringues up to 2 days ahead and keep it in an air tight container.