This is a very old and really lovely dessert which looks fantastic and tastes amazing. It's perfect for using up old cake, and is in fact much better with drier cake than one straight from the oven. The fruit element can be changed very easily to be enjoyed at any time of year, but it’s particularly nice in autumn with seasonal fruit including rhubarb, raspberries and blackberries.
At first glance it might look like a lot of work, but it really isn’t; it’s very easy and can be made in advance, before colouring the meringue when you’re ready to tuck in.
For the sponge:
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy.
Add the egg a little at a time until all is combined; if the mixture starts to separate just add 1 or 2 spoonfuls of flour to stabilise and continue adding the eggs until fully mixed.
Next add the flour and bring together.
Bake for around 20 minutes at 180C/350F/GM4 until cooked and a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
Allow to cool fully before using.
For the custard:
Combine the egg yolks, corn flour and 20g sugar in a mixing bowl.
Place the cream, milk, 20g sugar and vanilla in a sauce pan and bring up to the boil.
Pour onto the egg yolk mixture and whisk together to combine.
Pour in to a clean sauce pan and cook over a low heat, stirring until it coats the back of the spoon (about 5-10 minutes).
Cool, and chill before use.
For the blackberry compote:
Take 1/2 of the black berries, and place into a sauce pan with the other ingredients.
Over a medium heat bring to a boil and continue to boil until you have a nice sauce like consistency.
Remove from the heat and add the remaining blackberries.
Allow to cool.
For the Swiss meringue:
Put ingredients into a heat proof bowl.
Place over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk until thick and the sugar is dissolved and is no longer grainy (about 5 minutes).
Remove from the heat and whisk until cool, thick, glossy and firm peaks form (about 5-10 minutes in a machine whisk).
Spoon meringue into a piping bag and keep in the fridge until required.
You can serve this in what ever or how ever it takes your fancy. At Tyntesfield we use wine glasses so you can see the individual layers, but one large pretty bowl looks great too, or even onto a plate would work. If you don’t have a kitchen blow torch then bear in mind it will have to go under a hot grill to colour the meringue.
Firstly dice the sponge into 1 cm cubes and place in your chosen receptacles.
Sprinkle with about 1 dessert spoon of liquor of your liking such as blackberry vodka, gin or even a little sweet white wine and brandy.
Next divide the compote between the dishes and gently wiggle and press down a little to level it out.
Now pour on the chilled custard on top, leaving space for the meringue.
Pipe or spoon on the meringue - it looks fantastic if you can have lots of peaks to resemble a crown or jesters hat.
Colour with a kitchen blow torch or under a hot grill.
Serve and enjoy.
Our thanks to The National Trust for supplying this recipe.