Torta Meringata alla Crema

For a coworker’s birthday, and to celebrate her upcoming two month fellowship in Italy, we have a lovely Italian cake I first saw on an episode of “Best Thing I Ever Ate” on Food Network. Finding a recipe for this in English was interesting, so this is really a “translation” of the recipes I’ve found. I also pulled together a quick raspberry sauce to go on the side.

Cake (Magnolia’s Vanilla Cake)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling (crème pâtissière)
1 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups boiling milk
1 T butter
1½ T vanilla extract

Meringue (Italian Style)
1 lb sugar
4 oz water
8 oz egg whites

Cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and lightly flour two 9 inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition. Divide batter among the cake pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Filling: In a 3-quart mixing bowl, beat the sugar into the egg yolks with a wire whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon. Beat in the flour. While beating, pour the boiling milk onto the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and set over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Bring to the boil slowly while stirring well to avoid lumps. When it reaches the boil, stir for 2 to 3 minutes to cook the flour well, being careful not to burn it in the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter followed by the vanilla extract. Cover the surface with a sheet of parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming and allow to cool.

Meringue: In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to a boil. Boil the syrup until it reaches 243ºF. While the syrup is boiling, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. While beating, pour the syrup into the egg whites in a steady stream. Continue beating until the meringue is completely cool and forms firm peaks.

Final assembly: When cake has cooled, slice each layer in two. Layer pastry cream with cake. Spread meringue over entire cake when complete.