Meryenda bridges the hunger between lunch and dinner. Inappropriately called a "snack" by the less evolved, it is more of a small meal for most Pinoys, something akin to a British high tea. In these modern times, they can be sandwhiches and juice combinations for children, while the more sophisticated have cake or pastry with afternoon coffee.
When I was younger, lola would make palitaw for me, or banana fritters that my yayas would call maruya. On Holy Week she would make pospas for the pabasa singers, and of course for me. While Lola had a modern gas oven in her 1950s remodeled kitchen, she also had -- not one, but two -- wood fired ovens in the back. One was the traditional horno made of brick and mortar, where she would do the heavy roasting or the light baking -- think bibinka for meryenda even when it wasn't Christmas. The other was what she termed an "American style" upright metal oven that looked like a lightweight steel safe without a dial. She said she used this during the war years.
But it was Lola, and later on my mother who firmly established the meryenda as a mini-meal, to be shared and prepared for with as much fanfare as the family dinner. But my mother had more modern tastes, so meryenda was usually something freshly baked, like her special honey raisin bread that only needed the faintest spread of butter for full enjoyment.
As I settled into a larger home and my law practise became more routine (if one can call kidnappings and murder cases, routine) I now have more time to spend making meryenda time reminiscent of lola's or Ma's. For meryenda, I bake cakes, like this one I learned from Tita Ruth (Guingona), called blitz torte. Its a light meryenda cake that will still allow you just enough room for dinner.
1/2 c butter
1/2 c sugar
4 egg yolks
1 t vanilla
3 T milk
1 t baking powder
1 c all purpose flour
6 egg whites
3/4 c sugar
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy but grainy. Add egg yolks one by one beating thoroughly in between. Add milk and vanilla. Then add dry ingredients. Set aside.
With an electric mixer set on medium high, beat egg whites until slightly frothy. Add sugar a little at a time, beating continuously. Keep beating until stiff peaks form.
Pour batter into two greased removable bottom pans. Pour merengue mixture on top. Top with chopped nuts, sprinkle with cinammon and sugar. Bake in 350 degree pre-heated oven until the cake portion tests done.
1/4 c sugar
3 T conrnstarch
1/8 t salt
1 c milk
2 egg yolks
1 t vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until thick. While hot, spread between two layers of the torte.
Note when the cake is baked, remove one layer from the pan and set on a serving plate merengue side down. Spread filling on top, then top with second layer, merengue side up.
Others, however, serve both layers merengue side up as shown in the picture. Your choice.