“Thank You Mum for all Your Love”, are the words on our lips today as we celebrate what should be, a religious holiday. To all the Mothers in the world, whose arms are a safe haven for children big and small, I wish you a blissful and well deserved Mother’s Day. It’s funny that no matter how old we get and where life takes us, our need for Mum goes with us, proving that her role as nurturer, protector and friend is a neverending story. Which begs the question, are there ever enough ways to show our appreciation? This occasion has been at the forefront of my mind for days now, conjuring up all sorts of delcious ways that could’ve made my Mum feel extra special – even if she’s a thousand miles away there’s always that wish. I daydreamed about a garden tea with a special cake to celebrate her and though she can’t join me for a slice, this recipe was created especially to say, “Happy Mother’s Day Darling Mum!”
While you may think that an ordinary Blueberry Cake is not good enough for an extra-ordinary Mother, I assure you that this is so much more than a simple sponge with berries. This buttery cake with hints of zesty lemon is not only brimming with blueberries but is generously marbled with sweetened cream cheese which puts it somewhere between a soft sponge cake and a lush cheesecake. There’s a wonderful explosion of flavour and texture in your mouth when you eat this cake and miraculously they come together in perfect harmony. Its aesthetic appeal, with the contrast between the naturally yellow colour of the sponge, bursting tones of blue and violet from the berries and smears of milky white cream cheese, makes this cake as noteworthy as a blooming garden in springtime.
Of course no celebration cake is quite complete without the wow factor and for this I exercised my right to fix that sugar addiction. Meringue and berries have been in a love affair since forever so the introduction of meringue needed no deliberation. The sharpness of the cheese and berries within the sponge are well balanced by heaps of glossy French Meringue scented with lemon zest. It crowns the top of the cake like marshmallowy clouds before being toasted gently with a blow torch. For added colour, texture and glamour, a blueberry compote and fresh berries are the final touch to what I’m happy to call, a memorable Mother’s Day creation.
Best eaten outside on a warm day where the fragrance of fresh garden flowers fill the air and bird songs can be heard, with the most dear woman in your life praising your effort like she always does, making you grateful once again that you were born to the best Mother in the world.
For the Cake
- 200g plain flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 140g softened butter
- 100g castor sugar
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 tbsp milk
- 125g fresh/frozen blueberries
- 400g cream cheese
- 3 tbsp confectioners sugar
- zest of one lemon/1/2 tsp lemon extract
For the Blueberry Compote
- 125g fresh blueberries
- 1 tbsp castor sugar
- 1 tbsp Crème de Cassis (optional)
For the French Method Meringue
- 100g castor sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 lemon
- Grease and line a 20cm round spring-form tin and preheat oven to 160°C gas fan/ 180°C convectional/200°C conventional.
- Sift together flour and baking powder and set aside.
- Separate two of the four eggs into whites and yolks. Keep the whites for the meringue and the yolks for the cake batter.
- In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Whisk in egg yolks one at a time followed similarly by the two whole eggs, until eggs are well combined into the sugar-butter mixture.
- Add lemon extract/zest and mix well.
- Mix in half of the flour and baking powder making sure to clean the sides of the bowl before mixing in the rest.
- Add milk and mix to form a smooth cake batter.
- Gently fold in blueberries taking care not to smash them.
- In a separate mixing bowl combine cream cheese with confectioners sugar and whip until smooth.
- Add the sweetened cream cheese to the batter and using the handle of a butter knife swirl it into the batter to create a *marbling between the cake batter and cream cheese. In other words when the cake is baked and sliced there should be visible pieces of cream cheese within the sponge so do not mix to combine but rather fold in or swirl gently.
- Transfer cake batter into prepared baking tin, level with an offset spatula, give the tin two knocks on a hard work-top to ensure that the cake will bake evenly, and place in a preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, prepare the blueberry compote by placing a small saucepan onto low heat. While the pan is heating pick out a few berries, like 10-12 and set aside. Place the remainder berries into the pot and add sugar. Cook, until the compote bubbles. Remove from heat, stir in liqueur and set aside.
- To prepare the meringue, make sure that all utensils are grease free. Start by zesting the lemon and setting the zest aside. In a mixing bowl add a squeeze of lemon juice followed by egg whites. Beat with an electric whisk on low speed until frothy. Add sugar a tablespoon at a time, making sure that the sugar dissolves throughly between each addition. Continue beating to stiff peak stage until all the sugar has been added. At this point the meringue should glossy and stiff. Fold in the lemon zest.
- When the timer goes off, check the cake for readiness by poking the centre with a wooden kebab stick or a long thin utensil, if the stick comes away clean remove the cake from the oven or bake for a further ten minutes before checking again.
- Once the cake has been removed from the oven, leave the cake to cool for ten minutes before releasing the cake from the tin.
- Spoon the meringue onto the top of the cake into cloud like shapes. Using a kitchen blowtorch, flame the surface of the meringue until the peaks begin to change into a golden colour or alternatively, place the cake under the grill for 5 minutes.
- For the final touch, spoon on the blueberry compote before scattering over the remaining fresh berries.
- Let the cake rest for 45-60 minutes before serving.
Maestros Need To Know *French method meringue can be identified by the gradual addition of sugar to egg whites whilst continously whisking. In the making of French method meringue there is the chance that the sugar component may not dissolve properly resulting in the meringue weeping later. Unlike Italian meringue and Swiss meringue where the sugar is dissolved by heat, French meringue relies completely on the whisking process to dissove the sugar so ensure that each addition of sugar is well dissolved before adding more by whisking vigorously. *When choosing blueberries check that they are plump and firm, you can tell this by the skin. If the skin on the berries are taught and cloudy it generally means that the berries are at their peak. Berries that are passed their sell-by date will tend to have wrinkled skin and will start to lose thier cloudy veil. *In the making of the berry compote I used Crème de Cassis which is a sweet liqueur made from blackcurrants. It is great to use when you want to enhance the flavour of dark berries such as blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants or a general mix of berries. It's a nice bottle to have on hand for the making of berry desserts and trifles.