We've taken the popular scarlet-hued cake to the next level, adding meringue icing and sandwiching the slice whoopie-style.


Skill level

Average: 3.9 (15 votes)


  • 450 g (3 cups) plain flour
  • 2¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp pillar box red food colouring powder (see Note)
  • 75 g (¾ cup) cocoa powder
  • 185 g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 330 g (1½ cups firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 375 ml (1½ cup) buttermilk
  • cherries, to decorate

Meringue icing and filling

  • 8 egg whites
  • 410 g caster sugar
  • 310 g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp gelatine powder

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


You will need a sugar thermometer, 2 oven trays of the same size and a slice pan for this recipe. Meringue icing, without gelatine, will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Sift flour, baking powder, food colouring and cocoa in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla and ½ tsp salt until pale and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until just combined. Stir in the flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating in 3 batches, until combined. Beat on high speed for 30 seconds or until smooth.

Spoon cake batter into 2 greased and lined 38 cm x 25 cm oven trays. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, to make the icing and filling, whisk egg whites and sugar in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water for 5 minutes or until mixture reaches 75°C on a sugar thermometer. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for 5 minutes or until mixture is thick and doubled in size. Add butter in 4 batches, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Reserve 1 cups of the mixture for icing, cover and refrigerate until needed. Place remaining icing in a bowl for filling.

To make meringue filling, scatter gelatine over 60 ml boiling water in a heatproof jug. Stir until dissolved. Gradually whisk into meringue icing. Refrigerate, whisking occasionally, for 30 minutes or until starting to set.

Cut each cake in half. Trim 3 of the pieces to fit slice pan. Reserve the 4th piece for another use. Place top layer in a lined 26 cm x 16 cm slice pan with baking paper extending 5cm over sides of pan. Spoon over half the filling and level. Repeat with second cake layer and remaining filling. Top with remaining cake and press lightly to secure.

Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or until filling has set. Cut into 15 squares and serve with reserved icing and cherries.


• From Asian food shops and selected supermarkets. It is available in powder and liquid form. Substitute 1 tbsp red food colouring.


As seen in Feast Magazine, Issue 17, pg64.

Photography by Alan Benson