A Saturday morning spent rifling through cookbooks is not unusual for me. Especially when the wonderful device that is the Aga, takes up most of the kitchen and waits, ready to be used. This weekend, however, I stumbled upon the desserts section of my favourite read, ‘The Aga Book’ by Mary Berry (who is undoubtedly the queen of cakes – and Agas for that matter).
For the next half an hour, I found myself nestled in an armchair, mouth watering at the prospect of recreating one of her delicious desserts. The Meringue. Very simple recipe, but always tastes fabulous. One thing I love about the meringue is how versatile it is. It can be made into a Pavlova with a few extra ingredients, whipped into tiny peaks sandwiched together with a tasty cream filling or even crumbled with seasonal fruit to make an Eton mess. A fond memory of my childhood (which I am currently still in) has been decorating pre-made ones straight from Mrs Sainsbury and Mrs Tesco with squirty cream and fresh fruit. I decided to relive that memory, with better results and as a teenager.
Although in the past, I have made perfect meringues before, I will be honest and say that this time I had problems removing them from the lining, as they crumbled away. Not to worry! As aforementioned, this recipe is very versatile and I soon had a big bowl of Eton mess whipped up in no time! I had great fun with this recipe and would thoroughly recommend you to try it out at home. It tastes amazing and there’s always that extra excitement because you made it yourself.
Makes: 4 big or 8 small meringues
3 egg whites
6oz (175g) caster sugar
A little demerara sugar
1/4 pint (150ml) whipping cream
Seasonal fruit (optional)
1. Line a tray with silicone paper or parchment.
2. Whisk the eggs until they form soft yet stiff peaks – you can do this with a mixer or by hand, but be careful as you don’t want to overwork the whites or not work them enough, and it is hard to tell when they are ready.
3. Add the caster sugar, a teaspoon at a time, all the while, whisking well.
4. Spoon the mixture out onto the lined tray and dust with the demerara sugar. Bake in the simmering oven for 1-2 1/2 hours until they are firm, dry and will lift easily off the lining. If you like them very dry in the middle, after 1 1/2 hours, turn them on their sides. Cool.
5. Whip the cream until it is thick enough to your liking and either top with fruit, sandwich two together or crumble with the cream to make an Eton mess-like paste.