Shortcrust and Almond Meringue Individual Cakes – Gluten free

The recipe of gluten free 2 layers biscuit, with shortcrust layer on the bottom, and nut meringue on top, is a very flexible one. Shortcrust dough can be made with variety of gluten free individual flour, or the mix of them to add flavour. Roasted and roughly blended almonds or hazelnuts are both an excellent dry ingredient for meringue. I have been baking these biscuits, or individual cakes, many times now, occasionally using any nuts leftovers, including walnuts, cashews or pistachios. Anything goes. The same can be said about the shape of these biscuits. They can be baked in round, square and rectangular shape of different size.

The recipe was created to have dry, two layered biscuit, that can be stored indefinitely without changing its texture or taste. The idea of the recipe was based on what I remember as Krakow cake, sold many years ago in good patisseries and coffee shops in Riga. In some cafes, freshly baked cakes retained some sticky chewiness deep in the meringue, but I purposely avoided this quality to allow for longer/indefinite storage.

It was good that I did not research the original recipe in Russian blogosphere, as it later showed completely different process of preparation, which included preliminary bake of the shortcrust layer, and a very specific type of nut meringue preparation. The latter included heating (preliminary cooking) beaten egg whites with sugar and added ground nuts, and only after that baking both layers together. Too much hustle for me. So, as it happens quite often, I went my own way. Simple and easy:

  • make shortcrust dough
  • roll it to the size, refrigerate
  • beat egg whites with sugar
  • add dry ingredients with nuts
  • spread nut meringue over shortcrust
  • cut individual cakes/biscuits to the desired size
  • bake, allow to cool completely in the switched oven
  • enjoy

Originally I baked wider cakes, later tried round, smaller size biscuits, and finally settled on 7cm to 3cm longer and more narrow mini cakes.

The process of preparation is easier for round biscuits, as it involves shaping shortcrust dough into a round log, cutting it to slices and applying nut meringue on top with the help of a pastry bag. To make square or rectangular shape cakes you have to master careful cutting of two layered raw dough. With a long, thin knife and even thinner metal spatulas it is easy to achieve with practice.

Ingredients: 

for 15 mini cakes 3cm x 7cm fit on one baking tray

shortcrust

  • 100g millet, rice, sorghum flour (or their mix), corn flour(not corn starch) can be used as a mix with rice flour, but not on its own
  • 20g finely ground flax seed (I used golden)
  • 45g sugar
  • 5g vanilla sugar
  • 50g cold unsalted butter
  • 50g 35% fat sour cream (you can use 1 egg to replace sour cream, but the dough might need a touch more flour)

hazelnut or almond meringue

  • 2 egg whites (67-70g)
  • 30g caster sugar (important to use caster sugar here and in a dry ingredients mix)

separately

  • 55g ground roasted nuts
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 5g vanilla sugar
  • 20g rice flour (not too fine, I used McKenzie’s brand)

Preparation:

  • roast almonds or hazelnuts in 150C oven for 15 minutes
  • if using hazelnuts, remove the skin where possible
  • when cool, grind nuts in blender not too fine, there should be a mixture of all textures, from nut meal to larger pieces
  • make shortcrust pastry from ingredients above, as shown in step by step photos here
  • roll the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper or freezer bags to the size 21cm to 15cm (I use rolling pin with fixed thickness of the dough to 3mm)

  • before placing rolled dough to refrigerate, dust bottom surface with some flour and make sure it is not sticking to baking paper, it will help substantially when individually cut mini cake have to be separated from the paper and transferred to baking tray 
  • refrigerate the dough while preparing nut meringue
  • whisk egg whites to soft peeks, while continue whisking add sugar in 2-3 portions
  • whisk egg whites to glossy hard peaks
  • mix dry ingredients for the second batch of ingredients for meringue
  • add dry ingredients to egg whites
  • mix them carefully in
  • spread meringue over the shortcrust, make sure it touches shortcrust on the edges
  • cut to desired size individual cakes using long thin knife and separating meringue from the knife with thin spatula
  • use wider spatula and palette knife to transfer cake to lined baking tray

  • photos on top show wider cakes (12 altogether 4cm x 5cm each)
  • photos below show 15 cakes 3cm x 7cm, as I bake them now

  • bake in preheated to 150C fan forced oven for 55-60 minutes
  • if short crust was refrigerated for along time, heat oven to 160C and bake the first 15min and reduce temperature to 150C
  • do not open the oven door during baking
  • meringue layer will raise and later shrink to original size
  • leave mini cakes in the switched oven to cool down
  • store in air-tight container

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