Rumoured to be the most instagrammed cake in the world, Sydney’s Black Star Pastry’s Watermelon & Strawberry cake was one instance where I wanted to have my cake AND eat it. Problem is, I don’t live in Sydney. So when my husbands’ family decided to put on a baby shower breakfast for me, I thought this would be the perfect time to see if I could knock up a homemade version that had the same sentiment, but possibly not the same look and taste. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to find out for real, but for now I was chuffed to find a cake with watermelon and strawberries in it, I mean, basically it’s a breakfast fruit salad in cake form, right?
Not that I can take all the credit though – I’m certainly taking the easy option by using store bought sponge (quelle horreur!) and I’ve actually combined two recipes to create this one here. Firstly, Delicious have a Watermelon & Rose layer cake, which is very similar, but doesn’t have the Almond Dacquoise layer that the Black Star Pastry has. So for this, we’ve borrowed from the King of Desserts himself, Adriano Zumbo and altered his Hazelnut Dacquoise recipe, found here.
Finally, this cake uses rosewater – which I adore, but it is a polarising flavour for many. I couldn’t track down any rose petals and would normally get the ones from Pariya – so here I used some from my garden as I know we don’t used pesticides on them! I also added pomegranate from my garden too, as they suit the middle eastern influence and I just adore their jewel ruby red colour, though mine are a rose colour.
For the Almond Dacquoise:
- 150g roast almonds
- 150g icing sugar
- 200g egg whites (approx 6 big eggs or 8 small ones)
- 50g caster sugar
For the rest of the cake:
- 1/2 a seedless watermelon
- 1/4 cup (60ml) rosewater
- 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
- 500g punnet strawberries, halved
- 600ml thickened cream
- Unfilled sponge cake – I used the 450g rectangular version from Coles.
- Approx. 15 seedless grapes, halved
- Slivered pistachios and rose petals to serve.
- Pomegranate seeds (optional) to serve
For the Almond Dacquoise:
- Preheat oven to 180°C. (160°C fan-forced)
- Line a large tray with baking paper – I used 2 lamington trays the same size as the sponge cake.
- Finely grind almonds with the icing sugar. (If your almonds aren’t roasted, simply pop them in the oven for 15 minutes)
- To make the meringue, place the egg whites and a pinch of caster sugar in the bowl of a food mixer. Beat, on medium speed, until frothy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, one-third at a time. Let each amount clear before adding the next. Continue mixing on medium speed for a stronger and more developed meringue.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer, and gently fold in the nuts and sugar mixture until just combined. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Your dacquoise must be crisp on the outside, and soft and moist on the inside.
- Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool completely. Gently remove each of the meringues from the baking paper.
- Slice your watermelon into 1cm slices . Arrange on a wire rack in a single layer, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon rosewater and 2 tablespoons sugar, then stand for 30 minutes for flavours to infuse. Pat dry.
- Combine strawberries with 1 tablespoon of rosewater in a bowl then stand for 15 minutes to infuse.
- Whisk the cream and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with electric beaters until thickened. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon rosewater and whisk until soft peaks.
- If using the Coles rectangular sponge, carefully slice the cake halves in half again, horizontally. Place one cake layer on a serving plate and sprinkle with a little extra rosewater. Spread over one-third of the cream, then using one of the other sponges as a size guide, trim your almond dacquoise to sit on top of the sponge layer. Repeat layers, then top with a final layer of cake and cream. Press grapes and strawberries into the cream, then garnish with pistachios, dried rose petals and pomegranate seeds.