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Salted Caramel, Meringue and Blueberry Cake

This is a real show stopper. The blueberries work really well in bringing a real vibrancy to the cake. If  using home baked meringues you'll need to bake low and slow until completely dried out, this will help prevent the meringues from turning soggy when added to the cake. 
250g self-raising flour
250g caster sugar
250g margarine
5 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

800g icing sugar
400g softened unsalted butter
6 tbsp of dulce de leche with a large pinch of sea salt
250g blueberries
24 meringues kisses (homemade or shop bought) 

You will also need three 20cm (8 inch) sandwich tins, greased and lined with a disc of buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC

Tip all of the cake ingredients into the bowl of a free-standing machine and beat for 2 minutes until smooth. If you don’t have a machine, you can use an electric hand-held mixer. 

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake tins and spread level using a palette knife. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 22-28 minutes or until golden, well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. 

Remove from the oven and carefully turn the cakes out of the tins, peel off the parchment and leave to cool on wire cooling racks. 

Whip the butter for about 6 minutes in a stand mixer, this will give you lots of air and the wonderful light texture you’re after. Next add the icing sugar to the bowl and rewhip for 6 mins until light and fluffy with a mousse like texture and at the last minute add a tsp of vanilla extract, now swirl the  dulce de leche through the buttercream. 

To assemble crush 8 of the meringue kisses into small pieces, place one of the cold sponges onto a cake plate and spread with a little buttercream, around the outer edge sprinkle half of the crushed meringue pieces, add a third of the blueberries into the centre, place the next layer of sponge and repeat the process. Place the last sponge onto the top, now split the remaining buttercream into 2 bowls and cover the cake with half of the buttercream, place the cake in the fridge until firm (this is a called crumb coating, it stops the crumbs appearing in the finished cake decoration) 

Cover the cake in a final layer of caramel Buttercream and decorate with the blueberries and remaining meringues. 

* Top Tip if you would like to make the cake the day before:- complete to crumb coat, cover the remaining buttercream with a damp clean tea-towel then finish the next day. 

*You could swap the blueberries for strawberries and colour the meringues pink. 

* Brush the meringue bottoms with a little white melted chocolate to keep them crisp once placed on the cake. 

*Homemade meringue kisses

2 egg whites with 100g caster sugar make lots of pretty meringue kisses.

Whisk the whites to soft peaks, slowly add the caster sugar beat until the meringue is shinny and stiff, spoon into piping bags fitted with open star nozzles, pipe onto parchment lined baking trays, preheat the oven to 90ºC, place the meringues into the preheated oven and bake for about 3 hours,once baked switch off the oven and leave to cool completely in the oven with the door slightly open.