Wee Sponges with Passion Fruit Curd & Italian Meringue

From James Morton, these delicate wee sponges are accompanied by a tangy passionfruit curd and crisp Italian meringue. A light but scrumptious sponge recipe.

Introduction

If you like things light - things that make you feel like you’ve actually just eaten nothing at all - this recipe is for you.

This is a glorious sponge that can be made in any form. I’ve made it in wee cupcake cases because I believe it works well from an aesthetic perspective, but you could use it for madeleines, financiers or as a bigger cake, too. All I know is that the light sponge, sharp curd and sweet meringue make for a brilliant combination.

Although the title might make this sound daunting, this recipe is simple. There are just three processes involved: making a sponge, making a curd and making meringue, and this recipe is good practice for each.

Makes 12 muffin-sized cakes
Easy

Ingredients

For the sponge:
30g salted butter
100g caster sugar
4 medium eggs, plus 1 extra yolk
110g plain flour
For the passion fruit curd:
5 passion fruits
50g unsalted butter
1 medium egg, plus 1 extra yolk
50g caster sugar
For the Italian meringue:
2 medium egg whites
100g caster sugar
25g cold water

Essential kit

You will need a 12-hole bun tin, 12 cupcake cases and an electric mixer.

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas 5. Line a 12-hole bun tin with cupcake cases.

For the sponge, melt the butter in a pan on a high heat, then continue to heat until it goes a deep brown colour. Once it has reached this stage, remove from the heat and let it cool down.

Into a large bowl, weigh out the caster sugar, eggs and yolk. Using an electric mixer, whisk these together for 5-10 minutes until they form a light foam with almost stiff peaks. Slowly drizzle in the melted, cooled butter, whisking all the time, until completely incorporated.

Fold in the flour gently using a large metal spoon. Then, working quickly so the air doesn’t escape, scoop the mix into your cupcake cases. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown, light and springy. Leave to cool in the tin.

Whilst the cakes are baking and cooling, make the passion fruit curd. Scoop the flesh out of the passion fruits and into a pan, then add the butter, egg, yolk and sugar. Whisk everything together, then place on a medium heat and cook until the curd is noticeably thicker, stirring all the time. Pour into a jug or jar and keep in the fridge until needed.

To make the Italian meringue, first make sure you’re familiar with the principles (see page 220). Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl to stiff peaks. Weigh the caster sugar and water into a pan. Place on a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then stop stirring and bring to a boil. Continue to the soft ball stage - 118°C on a thermometer, or exactly 30 seconds of furious boiling. Slowly drizzle this mixture into your meringue, whisking on the highest speed all the time. Your Italian meringue is ready.

Build the cakes. Drizzle a heaped teaspoon of passion fruit curd over each cake. Load your Italian meringue into a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice, and pipe a swirl onto the top of each cake, before browning with a blowtorch or drizzling with more curd. These will keep in or out of the fridge in an airtight container for several days.

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