From France to Italy via Wigan

As you can perhaps guess from the title, I don’t know what to call this dessert. The French aspect is the clear influence from Strawberry Vacherin on the design, whilst the Italian element comes from the Genoese sponge. This recipe has quite a few components but is relatively straight forward. It is also a recipe that you can get very arty-farty with if you have an inner Picasso that needs sating.
Serves 6-8 people.

Ingredients: (Ounce to Gram Conversion Chart)

1 ½ oz Butter
5 Eggs (crack on a flat surface)
8oz Caster Sugar
2 Lemons (keep the zest and juice separate)
3oz Self-Raising Flour
1tsp Cornflour
3 ½ oz Dark Chocolate (grate 1oz of the chocolate)
8oz Strawberries (chop the tops off)
250ml Double Cream
200g Strawberry Jam


In a small pan on a low heat, melt the butter and then allow to cool.

Grease and line a loaf tin (see Mama Molloy’s – The home of home-baking).

Fully lined loaf tin

Fully lined loaf tin

Quarter-fill a small pan with water and put on a low heat. Put a glass bowl over the pan as shown below. Into the bowl put 3 eggs, 3oz caster sugar and the lemon zest. Whisk the contents of the bowl continuously for about 15mins until the mixture has doubled in volume and is pale in colour (and yes, I mean continuously so if you are lucky enough to have servants/slaves/trained monkeys, get them to do it).

Improvised double-boiler for the egg mixture

Improvised double-boiler for the egg mixture

Pre-heat the oven to 160oC (325oF, Gas Mark 3).

Take the bowl off the heat and stir in the cooled butter. Sieve the flour into the bowl and then fold it in by dragging your spoon around the edge of the bowl in one complete circle and then pushing through the middle of the mixture from one side of the bowl to the other. Repeat until fully combined but mix as little as possible to avoid losing air.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 30mins. Once cooked, take the Genoese sponge out of the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

The Genoese sponge

The Genoese sponge

Once the sponge is cool, trim the edges off with a knife and cut in half, length-ways.

The trimmed and prepared sponge halves

The trimmed and prepared sponge halves

In a small pan, heat the lemon juice and 1oz caster sugar on a low heat. Simmer the liquid to reduce it to half its volume so that it is thick and syrupy. Pour the syrup over the two rectangles of sponge and allow to soak in.

Reduce the oven temperature to 120oC (250oF, Gas Mark ½).

In a glass bowl, whisk two egg whites (separate the yolk from the white by pouring the contents of an egg into your hand and letting the white run through your fingers, whilst keeping the yolk in your hand) into soft white peaks. Add 2oz caster sugar and whisk into glossy, stiff peaks. With a metal spoon, fold in 2oz caster sugar, the cornflour and the grated chocolate.

The meringue mixture before it is transferred to the baking sheet

The meringue mixture before it is transferred to the baking sheet

Line a baking tray with baking paper and draw two rectangles on to the paper in pencil, measuring 10cmx25cm (I actually did 12cmx28cm which is too big). Split the meringue mixture between the two rectangles and spread evenly within the confines of the drawn rectangles. At this point, you can use some of the meringue to pipe fancy artwork onto one of the meringue rectangles if you wish.

Bake the meringue in the oven for 30mins and then switch off the oven and allow the meringue to cool in the oven.

Once the meringue is cool, remove from the oven and gently flip over onto another baking sheet. Remove the top baking sheet and gently peel off the baking paper. Turn the meringues back over.

The cooked meringues

The cooked meringues

Quarter-fill a small pan with water again and set a glass bowl over it on a low heat. Melt the remaining chocolate and then take the bowl off the heat.

Improvised double-boiler for the chocolate

Improvised double-boiler for the chocolate

Dip the strawberries in the chocolate to coat them and then allow to set.

The strawberries dipped in chocolate

The strawberries dipped in chocolate

In a glass bowl, whip the double cream into whipped cream.

Assemble the dessert in the following stages: lay the un-decorated meringue (if you have decorated one) onto a serving tray/plate; spread half the jam in a rectangle on the meringue, leaving a border of meringue; gently press down one of the sponges onto the jam; cover the sponge in whipped cream so that no sponge or jam is visible and smooth off the top so that it is flat; use the remaining chocolate to decorate the cream and the other meringue; set the strawberries into the cream with the tips of the strawberries pointing outwards; place the other sponge on top of the cream; cover the sponge with the remaining jam; place the other meringue on top to finish.

France to Italy via Wigan

This took me about 2 1/2 hours to make in total but it is certainly worth it. The sharp lemon and sweet strawberry work perfectly together and the texture of the whole thing is fantastic. This is certainly one to try.



  1. Looks so decadent! Were you on the slow boat from Wigan Pier?


    • 😀 it would be nice to sail out of Wigan Pier and leave the town behind, especially if the destination was Italy 😀

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