Summer Daze

Eton mess cakes

Eton mess cakes

Makes: 12 small cakes
30 minutes
60 minutes

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 150g softened butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp (approx.) milk
  • for the 'Eton mess' filling:
  • 75ml double (or whipping) cream
  • meringue (follow recipe opposite or use shock horror! shop bought)
  • small punnet of strawberries
  • for the meringue:
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 100g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vinegar (optional)

Not 'eaten a mess' as my daughter thought they were called. These are simplicity to make – and gloriously, look more tempting when messily put together. So if the cupcakes rise unevenly, the strawberries need bits cutt off them, and the meringue goes all wrong, celebrate.

  1. Pre-heat oven to gas 4/180°C. Fill a cupcake tin with 12 cases.
  2. I'm more relaxed when making cupcakes – I think it's because they cook so quickly – so I pile all the ingredients in together and mix briskly for 5 mins or so, but you can tread more sedately if you like and cream the butter and sugar first before gradually adding eggs then flour, then milk (a little at a time) until just on dropping consistency.
  3. Divide the mixture into the 12 paper cases and bake for approx. 15 mins. Check towards the end of this time – they should be a light, golden brown.
  4. While the cakes are cooling, wash, hull and roughly slice the strawberries, whip the cream and break up the meringue into pieces about the same size as the strawberries.
  5. Once the cakes are cooled, scoop out the centre of each (you can use the cake ‘scoops' and add them to the topping or save them to make a trifle base). Pile cream into the middle and top with meringue pieces and strawberries.
for the meringue:
  1. Line a flat baking tray with baking parchment and preheat oven to gas 1/140°C.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar, a little at a time, beating in between until it's incorporated and the mixture looks glossy and holds stiffly on a spoon (do not over beat though).
  3. Add the vinegar if using (it's supposed to help the meringue's texture). Spread the mixture thickly over the baking sheet and bake for approx. 40 mins, then turn off the oven and leave them to dry out – I tend to leave them in the oven overnight.

Photographs: David Merewether