Apparently I am teetering on the edge of baking burnout, because I was kind of dreading the complexity of this one. I am happy to say that I really enjoyed it, and it WASN'T THAT DIFFICULT! This is a traditional Austrian pastry ("Kardinalschnitten"). I followed the directions, and it was relatively straightforward.
First - make an "Espresso Couleur" - an espresso carmelized sugar syrup. The method for this was really quite amazing - warming and melting sugar in a large skillet, very slowly, until very darkly carmelized, followed by adding espresso to that and boiling again. I used a non-stick skillet, and all went fine - glad I had the time to focus on this, since it's not something to do while multi-tasking.
Next - the cake layers. You're making three layers of cake, 3" by 15" or so - you're going to end up with a long, high, not very wide cake. Parchment and a pastry bag were essential for this. You make meringue, and pipe out thin stripes of that onto three pieces of parchment.
There is a lot of meringue left, which becomes the basis for a sponge cake batter, which is then piped in between the meringue stripes, to make a layer with alternating stripes of meringue and sponge.
|Meringue and sponge stripes - there are three layers here|
|Layers after baking|
Last element: whipped cream, flavored with Espresso Couleur. Mmmm...this would be good on just about anything ;-) The recipe just used a little bit of this - I have some left over, so it should be fun to figure out how to use it.
The cake was slightly challenging to assemble - the recipe suggests trimming the sides and ends in order to make the layers even, but I think my knife wasn't quite sharp enough, because it seemed to tear the layers more than cut them. I did a bit of work on the ends, but skipped the sides.
|Bottom layer before assembly|
|Assembled Kardinal Schnitte (Schnitten? is it one slice or plural at this point?)|