Eton Mess Cake – Inspired by the classic dessert, this cake combines crisp meringues, sweetened cream, fresh berries – layered between an airy sponge cake. A new layer cake recipe by our contributor, Tessa Huff.
Traditionally, Eton Mess is a dessert served in a dish – not in cake or slice-form. A combination of crisp meringues, sweetened cream, and fresh berries, Eton Mess is a perfect balance of flavors and textures. Simple, fresh, and kind of “messy,” this classic British dessert is easy to throw together and versatile. You can event change it up by infusing the cream or swapping in any seasonal fruit you have on hand and you’re all set!
While Eton Mess was created with “simplicity” and “ease” in mind (assuming you keep meringue cookies on hand), this Eton Mess Cake takes it up a notch. The whipped cream, sweet fruit, and crunchy meringues pair so beautifully together, I thought why not transform the components of Eton Mess itself into a cake filling? Similar to a strawberry shortcake, this light and fresh layer cake is perfect for spring and the warmer months ahead.
In order to not weigh down the pillowy whipped cream and airy meringue, I created this variation of a sponge cake. Unlike other butter or pound cakes that can be rather dense, this cake is light, airy, yet still provides structure and stability within a sky-high layer cake. Once layered together, the crispy meringue bits nearly melt into the cream – each bite a perfect harmony of texture and sweetness. Fresh berries always seem synonymous with spring and summer to me, but feel free to use whatever fruit you have on hand!
To serve, carefully slice with a serrated knife. The cake should be served within about 30 minutes of assembly or refrigerated (loosely covered in plastic to prevent the exposed cake layers from drying out).
Eton Mess Cake
Inspired by the classic dessert, this cake combines crisp meringues, sweetened cream, fresh berries – layered between an airy sponge cake.
- Yield: One 8" Round Cake (4 layers)
- Category: ✽ ✽ ✽ ✽
For the Sponge Cake:
- 1 ¼ cup cake flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup canola or vegetable oil
For the Meringues:
- ¼ cup pasteurized egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream:
- 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Assembly:
- 3 to 4 cups fresh berries, washed and dried
Make the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl on an electric mixer, combine the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high for about 5 minutes or until the batter resembles pale ribbons.
- Stop the mixing and remove the mixing bowl form the stand. Sift the dry ingredients over the top of the batter. Whisk by hand until just barely combined.
- Pour in the lemon juice and oil and whisk by hand until combined (taking care to not deflate the batter as much as possible).
- Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans and bake for about 35 to 38 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let cool on a wire rack before removing the cakes from their pans
Make the Meringues:
- Preheat to oven to 215 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the egg whites and cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment, begin whipping the whites on medium-low.
- Once the egg whites begin to foam, slowly add in the sugar and gradually increase the speed to medium-high.
- Continue to whip egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks. Add in the vanilla and mix for an additional 30 seconds until combined.
- Spoon about 2/3 of the meringue onto the parchment paper into disks (about 3 inches in diameter – these will be broken up, so no need for them to be perfect).
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip with the remaining meringue. Pipe meringue “kisses” on the parchment (use two baking sheets if necessary).
- Bake the meringue for about 45 to 75 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and meringue can easily peel off the parchment.
Make the Whipped Cream:
- In the bowl on an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream on medium-high until it begins to thicken slightly.
- Gradually add in the sugar and vanilla and bump mixer up to high.
- Continue to whip the cream until medium-soft peaks.
Assemble the Cake:
- Once the cakes have cooled, carefully slice them in half (horizontally) using a long serrated knife.
- Break up the meringue disks and set aside.
- Place a bottom layer of cake on a cake plate or serving dish. Spread on 1/4 of the whipped cream.
- Top the cream with mixed berried and a generous amount of meringue pieces.
- Top with the next layer of cake and repeat until all cake layers are used.
- On the very top of the cake, spread on the remaining whipped cream. Top with berries and meringues kisses.
- Meringues can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for four to five days at room temperature. If they become sticky or chewy, bake again for 10 minutes at 200 degrees to restore crispness.
- Whipped cream can be stabilized to hold consistency for up to 24 hours by adding 1 tablespoon Instant ClearJel to the sugar.
- Whipped cream can also be stabilized by sprinkling 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin over the cream before beating.
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY:
Berries and Cream Cupcakes
10 Fresh Berry Layer Cakes
Lemon Blueberry Cake
Strawberry Lemonade Cake
Strawberry Swirl Cake
Kimberly Richards says
Beautiful cake, reminds me of summer….
Vicki Bensinger says
This is so beautiful! I’m printing it and making it as soon as I can and will definitely credit you when I post it on my blog. Positively lively!!!
Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous) says
this looks so light and fresh! definitely reminds me of spring/summer.
I am making my niece’s wedding cake in June. This is a wonderful cake! Would it be too difficult for the couple to cut at the reception? Would using a stabilized whipped cream allow the cake to be on display for several hours? I guess we could practice cake cutting at the rehearsal or I could actually have a slice already cut for them 🙂
Carrie Sellman says
A stabilized whipped cream would definitely help. But with the heat of June, this cake is better suited for a casual event than one where the cake would be on display for a long period of time.
June @ How to Philosophize with Cake says
This looks like an awesome variation on eton mess! I love the little meringues, so adorable 🙂
Looks amazing, so beautiful
What a gorgeous and yummy looking cake. I’m pinning this for later. Thanks for the recipe.
Lucy @ Globe Scoffers says
This cake is beautiful! 😀
can’t even imagine what this must taste like! 🙂
Looks amazing. This will be my Easter dessert contribution
Erin Chant says
I consider myself a pretty decent baker, I bake very often and everything comes out for me usually. This cake recipe did not come out at all. The layers bubbled up and were uneven and didn’t lay flat and it has an overall very bland taste, I love the idea of this cake but the recipe just didn’t work.
Firstly, this cake was delicious!! BUT I did struggle with it a bit.. The sponge is amazing and light and fluffy but it was hard to make the layers even and my sponges all deflated a little in the middle.. Any tips/advise would be great as I would LOVE to make this again but am a little worried! Thanks
Sorry, I didn’t realise I was replying to a comment 🙂
I agree! I bake cakes all the time and I had so much trouble with this one I had to throw it out! I think it had to do with the oil. About half way through baking it completely deflated, and when I took it out of the pans it was like all of the oil separated to the bottom! I don’t know what I did wrong.
Beautiful! What is the diameter of this cake?
Carrie Sellman says
Hi Lisa! It’s an 8″ round.
TerriSue Borden says
I made this for my husbands birthday two days ago. His favorite cake is Angel Food and he loves meringues! With the cake being a sponge cake I felt it would make him happy…..Well this recipe did accomplish that to a tee.
I’m having trouble with my meringeus..:( do you have some tips and tricks for crispy meringues? Mine seemed good when I took them out of the oven, but a few hours later they got really sticky on the outside and soft
Carrie Sellman says
Humidity could be the culprit. The sugar in the meringue pulls moisture from the air. Some bakers will leave meringues in the oven after baking, with the heat off, for several hours or overnight. You can also try to crisp them up again by baking them for 10 minutes at 200 degrees. Hope that helps!
This cake is amazing thank you so much! The sponge was so easy to make (I’m usually terrible at making sponge) and it tasted amazing and light and fluffy!
Michael Hickey says
great a new recipe! your cooking is always a great inspiration for me, thank you!
Wow Great Pics! looks delicious
Looks delicious! These berries are full of vitamin content that make them healthy too.
I can see why this would take a lot of skill, this looks absolutely incredible Tessa! Also on a completely random note this post is making me want to delve into the world of food photography…
Julia // The Sunday Mode
How about simple syrup the sponge cake to avoid drying? Would that b ok?
This was SO GOOD. The sponge bakes up beautifully and springy and I cannot wait to make it again. The flavors are perfect together. Thanks for another stellar recipe!
Thais Ortins says
Woow Looks amazing. This will be my Easter dessert contribution. Tks!
I have made this cake four times now and it has been really delicious every single time! I add about a teaspoon of lemon extract with the vanilla for a little boost to the citrus flavor. This time I also made a chocolate ganache for those who wanted some on their slice. I love how the cake bakes up so springy! Thanks for a new summertime family favorite.
Cake was very dry. But the rest of the cake had good flavors.
Carrie Sellman says
Oh, I’m sorry to hear that! If your cake turned out dry, you may want to check out our article: Baked to Perfection. Hope it helps for next time!
What can I substitute for cream of tartar?
Carrie Sellman says
You can substitute 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar for the cream of tartar.