- Preheat the grill, then toast the hazelnuts until golden. Leave to cool. Roughly chop a few for the decoration and set aside; finely chop or grind the rest of the hazelnuts in a nut mill or food processor.
- Preheat the oven to 140ºC (275ºF, gas mark 1). Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment and draw a 20 cm (8 in) circle on each piece of parchment.
- Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they form stiff peaks. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time, then continue to whisk for 1–2 minutes or until the meringue is very thick and glossy. Fold in the finely chopped or ground hazelnuts with a large metal spoon.
- Divide the meringue between the baking sheets and spread evenly within the drawn circles. Bake for 1 1/4 hours or until the meringues are set and can be easily removed from the paper; switch round the baking sheets halfway through cooking so that the meringues colour evenly. Loosen the meringues from the paper, then leave to cool completely on the baking sheets.
- To make the pastry cream, pour the milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the vanilla pod, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
- Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar for 2–3 minutes or until pale. Sift in the flour and cornflour, and whisk to combine. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and scrape the seeds into the milk with a sharp knife; discard the pod. Bring the milk just to the boil, then gradually whisk it into the egg yolk mixture.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or a whisk. When thick, simmer gently for 1 minute, still stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Cover the surface of the pastry cream with wet greaseproof paper and leave to cool. (Both the meringues and pastry cream can be made a day in advance; store the meringues in an airtight container and the pastry cream in a covered bowl in the fridge.)
- Assemble the cake no more than 1 hour before serving. Place one of the meringues on a serving plate, flat side uppermost, and spread over the pastry cream (if it is too thick to spread, beat in the extra milk). Sprinkle with two-thirds of the raspberries, then top with the second meringue. Decorate with the remaining raspberries, roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts and a light dusting of icing sugar. Cut into thick slices with a sharp knife to serve.
Each serving provides
B12, C, E * A, B1, B2, B6, folate, calcium, copper, zinc
Eggs are a good source of protein and provide a useful amounts of vitamins A, B2, B12, E, folate, selenium and phosphorus. * Raspberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and a useful source of folate.
Some more ideas
For a chocolate and chestnut meringue cake, melt 85 g (3 oz) good dark chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of hot water, then spread it over the flat side of one meringue. Leave to set. Mix 1 can sweetened chestnut purée, about 240 g, with 200 g (7 oz) fromage frais, and spread over the chocolate. Top with the other meringue, and decorate with chocolate curls. * To make mini meringues, use ground hazelnuts or pistachios in the meringue mixture and shape it into ovals with 2 spoons, placing them on baking sheets lined with baking parchment. Bake for 50–60 minutes. Dip the base of each meringue in melted chocolate and sandwich pairs together with a mixture of 150 g (5½ oz) Greek-style yogurt or fromage frais and 150 ml (5 fl oz) whipped whipping cream.