What did that say? The headline up there? Did that say there will be a disaster at the end of this post? It did? Oh, I am so scared of disasters. Listen, I have an idea. If you don’t scroll down any further we will never get to the end of this post. And that is good, because there is a disaster at the end of this post. So please don’t scroll down any further.
You scrolled down! Here you can see that I’ve got all my ingredients laid out ahead of time for my cardinal slice layers. And that’s important because you need to move right along with a recipe like this. There’s no time for measuring or egg-cracking when you’re in the middle of making the batters. Oh, I also have my oven set to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can see that you also need to get your pans & parchment sheets ready. Three 3-inch wide strips, greased with a little melted butter: two on one sheet pan one on the other. (All on one is too much because the layers can run together a little). But this is all immaterial anyway because you’re not scrolling down any further.
Hang on, what are you doing? You’re getting us closer to the disaster at the end of this post! On which note you can see here that I’ve put my egg whites and pinch of salt in a bowl, whipped the mixture into a froth and am adding the sugar in a steady stream.
I whipped them only to soft peaks. The foam drips off the whip but when it hits the mass the blobs pretty much stay where they are.
Next I grabbed a pastry bag with just the collar and no tip.
I loaded it with the meringue…
…and gently piped three lines of meringue down each piece of parchment.
Then I promptly started the next batter. I put the eggs, yolks, vanilla and sugar in the mixer bowl — I didn’t bother to clean it — then started whipping.
I whipped for 3-4 minutes on medium high, just until fairly thick ribbons fell in the first few seconds after lifting the whip. I didn’t want to do any more than that, because over-whipping is lethal to this batter.
Then I…wait, are you scrolling down again? I told you I didn’t want to get any closer to the disaster at the end of this post, OK? Because there’s nothing I hate more than a baking disaster. It’s embarrassing, you know? I have my pride — so quit it!
In any event, I sifted on the flour…
Then folded it in, being careful to scrape down at the bottom of the bowl where much of the flour will always settle. Especially in a very light, foamy batter like this.
I folded for about 45 seconds or so, until the batter looked like this.
The batter was so light that it could literally be poured into the pastry bag (the same bag, not washed, just with the remaining meringue squeezed out). The liquidity, I must confess, alarmed me a little. The batter will drip everywhere if you aren’t careful. However it wasn’t terribly difficult piping it between the meringue stripes.
I wasn’t perfectly neat, but things turned out OK, see?
As for the baking, I inserted the pans on two racks in the center of the oven (the pan with two strips on the top). I baked them for 5-7 minutes, at which point I rotated the pans top-to-bottom, then turned down the heat to 300 for another 10-15 minutes. At that point the first pan was finished. See?
The second pan needed a touch of browning, so I turned the oven back up to 375 and let the layer bake for about another three minutes. At which point I allowed all the pans to cool. Then I gently pried up the strips (being careful of the meringue edges) and froze them.
So far so good though I can’t help but notice that you’re STILL SCROLLING DOWN! I asked you to stop that, and I confess I’m very disappointed. I’d have thought that by now you and I had developed the sort of relationship where you’d do me a favor if I asked you nicely. Now KNOCK IT OFF!!!
Once the layers were completely frozen it was time to shape. I took my best layer out of the freezer and dusted it with powdered sugar (which makes the meringue less sticky and easier to work with).
Using a very sharp knife I cut the top layer into serving-sized pieces. Then I put the pieces — still on the parchment — back in the freezer.
At that point I took the worst of my three layers out of the freezer, peeled the parchment from the underside and set it on a fresh strip of parchment or wax paper. I prepared, then slathered on, a good deal of espresso whipped cream. About 3/4″ inch.
I shaped it gently into a slab and evened the top and sides.
Then I put on the next layer.
I repeated the process with the whipped cream. I spread it on liberally…
…squared off the whole cake and added extra cream where needed.
At that point I took the tops out of the freezer, gently pried them off the paper and placed them atop the cake.
Grasping the piece of parchment beneath I slid the finished cake off the work surface onto a sheet pan and put the whole thing in the freezer for a good four hours.
At that point it was ready for slicing with a sharp knife that I’d run under hot water and quickly dried…using firm, downward strokes and HEY!!! I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO STOP SCROLLING DOWN!!! WHY WON’T YOU LISTEN TO ME??? THERE’S A DISASTER AT THE END OF THIS POST!!! AND IF THERE’S ONE THING I HATE MORE THAN ANY THING IT’S A BAKING DISASTER!!! IT MAKES —
Hey. There isn’t a disaster at the end of this post after all. Just a delicious feather-light pastry. I guess these cardinal slices really did work out pretty well after all.
And YOU were so scared!