This meringue-based Earl’ Castle Ruins Cake with walnuts and prunes is another delightful Russian dessert with a catchy name.
Hello, my friends! I will be extremely short today. I’ve got a huge announcement to make. It’s my birthday this week! Thank you for your congratulations. Let me also congratulate Neil who’s celebrating birthday too (Isn’t the same day – May 8th?)
Last year I shared another Russian cake recipe around my birthday, so I’d like to continue this tradition.
Indeed, I never had this cake until this year. While it’s a relatively modern dessert originated from USSR, it has the story behind its creation.
Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the governing Communist Party was a huge fan of meringue-based desserts. Different pastry chefs were searching for and trying new recipes to please the leader, and that was how this cake was born one day. As for the name, it was inspired by the story’s title of another influential Soviet person – the writer Arkady Gaidar.
Also, the cake shape itself reminds some kind of piece of architecture, isn’t it?
The cake is relatively easy to make, and the hardest part is making meringues (Of course, you can buy it too). You can play with different filling/frosting, and the only thing is that it shouldn’t be too runny like thin custard – the cake will become soggy too fast. Condensed milk, butter, dulce de leche, cream cheese, fruit preserves, on the other hand, will perfectly work. And of course, it’s always great to add some extra texture, so feel free to add various nuts and dried fruit. Personally, I love the combo of walnuts and prunes.
Mmm… Doesn’t this Earl’ Castle Ruins Cake sound delicious? Give it a try and celebrate my birthday with me then! :)
1/3 tsp cream of tartar (You can use 1/2 tsp of lemon juice instead)
300 gr. butter, softened
400 gr. thick dulce de leche
1/2 to 2/3 sweetened condensed milk
10-15 large pitted prunes + 1/4 cup brandy
1 to 1,5 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped
Separate the whites from the yolks into a clean dry bowl, while the eggs are still cold. Be careful when separating egg whites as even a drop of the egg yolk will prevent egg whites from foaming.
Let the whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before beating – this helps to break protein which is important for foaming.
Combine the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in a large clean bowl and beat with a mixer until foamy, about 2 minutes.
Start gradually adding the sugar, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Beat well after each addition to combine.
Once you have incorporated all the sugar, continue beating until stiff glossy peaks form (If you tilt the bowl, the whites should not slide).
Preheat oven to about 120 degrees C (250 degrees F). By the time you stop whipping the egg whites, your oven must be ready.
Using a piping bag or just a spoon, arrange small meringues onto 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, then turn the oven off, not opening the oven door, and let the cookies sit for at least an hour.
Remove the meringues from the oven and set aside.
To make the frosting, beat the butter in a large bowl, until soft and light, few minutes.
Add the dulce de leche and condensed milk and continue beating a few minutes, until smooth and silky.
If you’re using the prunes, soak them in the brandy for 15 minutes then drain and slice. You can soak other dried fruit, too. Roughly chop toasted walnuts.
For assembling the cake, choose a flat plate.
Spread a little of the frosting (1/2 teaspoon) on some meringues and arrange them on the plate, in a circle. The number of meringues for the first layer will depend on their size and the size of the plate.
Generously spoon out and spread the frosting then sprinkle with the walnuts and prunes.
Repeat the second layer which should be smaller than the first one.
Repeat, making each following layer less than the previous. I had 5 layers in total.
Crush a couple of meringues and decorate the cake from the outside, using some frosting.
You can serve the cake as soon as it is assembled, but it is always beneficial to let it stand in the fridge for at least 30-40 minutes.
If you have any remaining meringues and frosting, you can mix them in a bowl (Like an Eton Mess) for an extra dessert.