Sans Rival (Filipino meringue and buttercream cake)

This cake is a special treat that is one of my husband’s favorite desserts.  I have tried making it about 2 years ago, found the recipe online (there are quite a number of those floating around) but I was just never happy with how the cake turned out. Were it the cake layers or the cream. Then I decided to interpret the cake, so to speak. I used the classic French techniques but drew on the classic Filipino flavor of the cake. The result is this wonderful hard-to-put down your fork confection. And every time I make it, the cake turns out just perfect – velvety smooth cream on crispy, yet chewy base.

Ingredients:

For the cake base:

  1. 175g ground cashew
  2. 175g icing sugar
  3. 40g plain flour
  4. 7 egg whites (280g)
  5. 110g caster sugar
  6. 1tsp cream of tartar
  7. chopped cashew

 

For the buttercream:

  1. 8 egg yolks
  2. 250g caster sugar
  3. 250g butter (soft)
  4. 150g ground cashew

 

Instructions:

  1. I usually break up the preparation of this cake over 2 days. That way I do not feel so overwhelmed, for one thing, and also, I feel that the cake layers just taste a bit better if they rest slightly before they are covered with buttercream.
  2. Now, onto preparing the cake layers. First and foremost, get everything ready ahead of time. Take 3 baking paper sheets and draw 23cm (8 inch) circles on each one. This will form the base on which you will bake each cake layer. Also, prepare your piping bag with a plain piping nozzle of 14mm. The batter is very easily deflated this is why it is important to have the sheets prepared and ready for the batter to be piped in advance.

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3. Sift together icing sugar and plain flour. Add ground cashews to this mixture (cashews do not have to be too finely ground) and set aside.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 150c.

5. Start whisking the egg whites on medium speed until they start to rise.

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6. Continuing to whisk slowly, add cream of tartar and caster sugar. Continue beating until firm peaks form.

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7. In one go, pour in the icing sugar, plain flour and the ground cashews into the mixture. Carefully, using circular motions incorporate dry ingredients into the egg whites while working from the bottom of the bowl up and twisting the bowl itself.

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8. Carefully transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with 14mm nozzle and pipe out the batter in a circular fashion to create disks. I also go over the piped disks with a pallet knife in order to ensure that they are even in thickness. Sprinkle the chopped cashew on top of each disk.

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9. Immediately transfer the baking sheets into the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes turning the baking sheets around to ensure that the meringue is browning evenly on all sides. I am also saying approximately 30 minutes, since the actual cooking time would largely depend on how crispy/chewy you like your meringue.  Once the meringue is baked you can let it rest in the oven with the door closed or take it our immediately.  Again, this would depend on how crispy you want the meringue to be (if you want to more crispy – leave it in the oven, if you want it more chewy – take it out). Then carefully peel off the baking paper and I usually put each meringue disk into a plastic bag and let it rest overnight.

10. Now we can move to on preparing the buttercream.  Place caster sugar into a pan and add about 50ml water.

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11.  Bring the mixture to boil and boil until it reaches the temperature of 121c. It is best if you use a thermometer for this stage, however, if you do not have one – you can check whether the syrup is done by dipping a fork into the mixture, if there are strings forming when you take out the fork – the syrup is done.

12. Start whisking the egg whites and then slowly, in a trickle, add the sugar syrup.

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13. Continue beating the mixture on medium-high speed until it cools down (the bowl will feel cool to the touch). The mixture will  also lighten in color.

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14. Gradually incorporate softened butter, cut or broken into cubes. Continue beating the mixture while incorporating the butter.

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15. Once the butter has been fully incorporated and the mixture looks smooth, add ground cashews and place the buttercream into the fridge so that it can thicken. Although this is a buttercream, it does come out quite light.

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16. When the buttercream is ready, place one meringue disk on the serving platter, cover with one third of the buttercream. Then cover with the second meringue disk. Repeat, ending with the buttercream on top of the cake. Place the cake into the fridge and let stand overnight (if it lasts that long).

 

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