Strawberries on a layer of caramel covering a soft white cake cushion and blanketed by a cloud of sweet, fluffy and crispy meringue!
We made it back to Thailand a couple days ago. This time we are in Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand. But when we were still on Bali, I had a craving one day for one of my most favourite cake bars – Strawberry Pudding Cake.
We always had it as summer treat growing up in Germany, because it was the only time of year when fresh strawberries were available. It starts with a layer of white cake, then a layer of whipped vanilla pudding, lots and lots of fresh, juicy, ripe strawberries, and on top a red jelly-like glaze.
But, alas, my time on Bali was marked with more baking fails than is typical for me. Maybe I got out of practice during the eight oven-less months prior, or maybe it was the gas oven, that took some getting used to. But most likely I was just a little over-ambitious and not used to Indonesian ingredients.
All kinds of pudding flavours were available in the store, but not vanilla. I guess, it isn’t a standard flavours around the world. So I researched a bit and thought I would be able to make pudding from scratch. Well, it sounded simple enough, but somehow the texture and flavour were really off.
I did not want grainy, flavourless pudding to ruin my childhood-memory-cake, so I decided to forego the pudding layer and just spread dulce de leche between the white cake and strawberry layer.
In Germany it is super-easy to make the jelly-glaze. The powder is sold in little packages and one just has to mix it with a little sugar and fruit juice or water. Of course, nothing like this glaze powder was available in Indonesia. Again, a little internet research and I figured out, it could also be made with gelatine sheets.
All good and well in theory, but in my practice the glaze took forever to set just a little and then it was impossible to pour it. Oh my, time for a second adjustment. From the pudding fail, I still had an egg white left over and decided to make a meringue with it.
Having no electric mixer and not too much experience with a gas stovetop, the meringue turned out a little grainy. But I actually didn’t mind the extra crunch.
The end product didn’t have much to do with the cake I had originally envisioned, but ‘baking-fails’ aren’t always bad. This time all the improvisations I had to make turned into a newly developed dessert. Instead of calling the result a fail, I name them “Strawberry Cloud Bars”.
- 1 8” square white cake layer
- ½ – ¾ cup dulce de leche
- 10 – 15 medium-sized strawberries (or other berries or fruit)
- 1 egg white
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- Cut the cake layer into 3 equal strips (It is quite tricky to cut the baked meringue, so it’s easier if you only have to cut one direction later). Spread dulce the leche over the cake strips. Wash strawberries and dry on a paper towel. Hull and halve strawberries and place on cake strips.
- Whisk egg white, salt and sugar in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water until sugar is dissolved. Using the whisk attachment of the mixer beat 5 minutes on low, then 5 minutes on high speed (or use a hand whisk and a lot of arm-strength). Spread or pipe meringue over strawberries.
- Slightly brown the meringue with a kitchen torch or under the broiler of the oven (watch closely). Cut each strip twice for 9 bars.