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Happy Memorial Day! A huge “THANK YOU” to all those who are serving or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, including your families who also sacrifice so much; and for those who have given their lives, we are truly grateful. I know personally, I have many family members and friends that serve currently, or have served, and I am truly thankful for the ways in which they have given of themselves and done without.
Memorial Day weekend always seem to include pool parties (and sunburns, like the one I currently have from the pool today), backyard BBQ’s, road trips, and lots of red, white, and blue; and desserts. Maybe you are celebrating Memorial Day in one of these ways, or another; however you are celebrating, make sure you bring this colorful Summer Berry Torte with you. This dessert has a unique variation of textures with each bite, crispy, crunchy, fluffy, light, gooey, creamy, and all sorts of AMAZINGNESS! I originally came across this recipe, which I adapted from, in one of my favorite dessert cookbooks, Vintage Cakes, by Julie Richardson. Her recipes are delightful and her food styling photography is well-executed. I highly recommend adding this to your collection of dessert cookbooks; you can purchase it HERE. This is my own version of her “Blitz Torte”. I have been looking for an excuse to use my recently acquired culinary torch (thanks aunt L!) and a cake with meringue, custard, nuts, and fresh berries was just the one I needed.
In order to tackle this torte, you will first need to make your vanilla custard and get it in the refrigerator to cool. I left mine in the frig for two hours which seemed like a sufficient amount of time, an hour will also do. I would use it within 24 hours from the time you make it.
Prep and cook time: 10 minutes / Refrigerate for 1 hour
3/4 cup whole milk
2 egg yokes
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
- In a small sauce pan, heat milk on low until hot but not boiling.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together egg yokes, sugar, and salt; then whisk in the cornstarch.
- Separate half a cup of the warmed milk and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture, tempering the eggs.
- Pour tempered mixture slowly into the warm milk in the saucepan, stir, and continue to cook over medium-low heat until the mixture begins to thicken, bubbling for one minute.
- Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve and whisk in butter until melted, then whisk in vanilla.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour.
- While refrigerating, prepare cake layers.
Custard keeps for five days when refrigerated. Do store it in an airtight container.
Tip I learned from Vintage Cakes: lay plastic wrap directly on the custard when refrigerating.
This will ensure that the custard stays creamy and moist until ready to use.
Moving on to the cake layers. These layers are meant to be thin and a vital piece to your torte, no pressure or anything (just don’t mess it up, ha ha). I really enjoy the layers of cake in this torte, they remind me of a brown butter cookie, with a light sugary sweetness, and a little crunch.
Once the cake batter is mixed, divide batter into two 8″ round cake pans that have been buttered and lined with parchment paper.
Spread the cake batter evenly over the bottom of each pan. A thin layer of batter will just barely reach the sides. I used a greased spatula to evenly disperse the batter.
Once the cakes have been baked, remove from the pans after about 5 minutes. Cool cakes completely on wire rack before assembling.
Prep time: 10 minutes / Bake time: 20-25 minutes
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
4 egg yokes
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons whole milk
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°.
- Prepare two 8 inch round cake pans. Butter and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- Using the paddle attachment on a standing mixer, combine butter and brown sugar, beat until smooth. Add egg yolks two one at a time, scrapping the sides with a spatula.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk and vanilla together.
- Alternate the flour and milk mixtures on low speed. Do not over mix.
- Divide batter between two prepared pans, spread it evenly to the outer edges of the pan. The batter will be thick and barely cover the bottom of each pan.
- * Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes, or until middle is done.
* If you prefer to have your meringue baked instead of torched, see the instructions on the ‘Meringue + Torte Assembly’ now and wait to bake your cake layer. If you choose to bake your meringue, you will need to add ten minutes to your baking time.
Assemble the torte by alternating layers of cake, meringue, custard, sliced toasted almonds, and fresh berries (which I sliced in the middle layer).
Meringue + Torte Assembly
Prep time: 15 minutes / Assembly time: 5 minutes
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
A mix of fresh berries
- Using the whisk attachment on a standing mixer, combine *egg whites, and salt and beat on low speed.
- Slowly increase the speed to medium-high, beat until the whites form soft peaks.
- Turn down the mixer speed and add the granulated sugar, pouring slowly, until combined.
- Continue whipping whites on medium-high speed until they hold firm, they will have glossy peaks when they are ready.
- Fold in the vanilla.
- Assemble torte in layers, torch meringue and serve immediately.
* Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.
If you prefer to be safe, you can bake the meringue on top of the cake batter and then assemble layers as instructed above.
Repeat layering once more and top torte with meringue, sliced almonds, and fresh fruit.
Torch meringue and serve!