Fluffy yellow cake layers are marbled with rose water batter. The bright red filling is bursting with sweetness and raspberry flavor. The giant meringues are optional on top, but they make a beautiful and tasty cake topper.
Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well with each addition. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract; mix until well combined.
Place two cups of batter into each pan. Add the 1/4 teaspoon rose water to the remaining batter in the mixing bowl; add the two drops of liquid pink food color and mix well. Drop spoonsful the pink batter on top of the white batter in each pan. Spread the batter evenly into the pans then run a knife or skewer through the batter to marble it (try to avoid scraping the bottom of the pan with the knife, this will remove the pan’s floured coating).
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Level the cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveler.
Note: The floured surface of the coated baking pan usually contributes to an orangey-brown cake crust. I usually trim this away from the bottom and sides of the cake, and I did this to this cake. It’s an extra step but the cake will be softer and more delicate.
In a small saucepan, bring the raspberries and water to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Press raspberries through a sieve; discard seeds and allow the mixture to cool.
In the same pan, combine the sugar and cornstarch; stir in the cooled raspberry puree and whisk until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 2 minutes or until thickened. Transfer the mixture to a separate bowl and let cool completely.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until just combined. Add the vanilla extract and raspberry filling. Beat again until incorporated. Add milk or cream a little at a time until the mixture is spreading consistency.
Preheat the oven to 170F.
In a medium bowl, combine the two sugars. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl and whip them with an electric mixer on high speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Beat again on high speed until the egg whites start to thicken. Gradually add the sugar mixture a little at a time.
Beat until the mixture is shiny and holds stiff peaks, about 5 to 7 minutes. To make sure the sugar is dissolved, rub a little between your thumb and forefinger to see if granules remain. If grainy, beat the meringue until the sugar is dissolved.
Spoon the meringue in 10 large heaps on the cookie sheets, or transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe swirls onto the cookie sheets. (I did both).
Place the cookie sheets, staggered, on the top and bottom oven rack. Bake for 2 hours, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Turn off the oven and let the meringues cool down with the oven, about 1 hour. When the oven is cool, remove the meringues. They should lift easily from the parchment paper.
Press gold leaf onto the meringues, if using. Serve immediately, or store them in an airtight container for up to three days.
Transfer 2/3 cup of the frosting to a piping bag with a plain tip (or with the end snipped to about 1/2 inch diameter). Place a cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Pipe a circle of frosting around the top edge of the cake layer; fill with raspberry filling (this should be about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons filling per cake layer). Stack a second cake layer on top and pipe and fill as before. Finish with the third cake layer on top.
Use an off-set spatula to spread the frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Top the cake with assorted meringues and fresh raspberries.