I love my mother-in-law’s baking. She makes it look so effortless, never having to weigh out ingredients, as it has become second nature after all those years. I could happily stand and watch her bake all day, chatting over cups of tea about her golf and her work. She’s an old-fashioned type baker, and makes the most perfect lemon meringue pies and apple crumbles. You won’t find a “foam” or a “deconstruction”, but honest, hearty dishes.
The last time we had visited for the weekend, I had mentioned that I would love her to show me how to make meringues. She seemed quite delighted that I had asked and we made a promise that the following visit would be “Operation Meringue” A few minutes later, she came back into the kitchen with the Holy Grail…… her recipe book. It was so lovely looking through the book together, her telling me wee stories about times she had made particular recipes and which ones had worked really well. The actual book itself was a Good Housekeeping book from the seventies, with lots of really bad photos of what was then, the height of luxury baking!
Fast forward to our most recent visit and off we disappeared into the kitchen to make our meringue on the Sunday morning. The plan was to take the meringue home so that I could make a Pavlova with it.
(makes one large meringue suitable for a Pavlova, which would serve 4)
170g (2oz) Caster Sugar
3 Eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp White Wine Vinegar
FOR THE PAVLOVA
3tbsp Icing Sugar
350ml Double Cream
- Pre-heat your oven to 120°c (fan 100°c) / 250°F / Gas Mark 1 then very lightly grease a piece of baking parchment and place greased-side down onto a tray, then very lightly grease the side facing up (If you want your meringue to look super neat, place a plate onto the parchment and draw around, giving you a guide when you come to spoon the mixture on later)
- It’s really important for the eggs to be at room temperature, so make sure you take them out a good few hours before you plan to use them, or overnight. Now, separate the eggs, placing the whites into a spotless clean bowl. You must ensure that no yolk or shell gets into your egg whites, so take your time with this bit!
- Once separated, whisk the egg whites with an electric hand mixer until it starts to form stiff peaks, you should be able to lift the bowl above your head at this point and it won’t drop out!
4. Fold in your teaspoon of white wine vinegar and then start to whisk again at the lowest setting, adding one teaspoon of caster sugar at a time. Once all combined stop whisking.
5. My mother-in-law then gives the mixture one last small stir, this will allow you to be sure that all the sugar has been incorporated as if it hasn’t, you’ll be aware of a scraping sound as you stir. If you can hear the sugar then give it another whisk with the hand mixer.
6. Using a large metal spoon, dollop (I can’t think of better word to use here!) your meringue mixture onto your baking parchment to form a circle, making sure that there are no gaps in the meringue and creating the sides a little higher than the centre so your fruit can sit inside nicely.
7. Place your meringue in the oven for one hour then turn off the oven, leaving it inside the oven to cool completely.
8. When the meringue is completely cool, chop 100g of the strawberries and 100g of the raspberries and place into a food processor with 2tbsp of icing sugar and blitz until smooth. Now pass this mixture through a sieve and put to the side.
9. Whip your 350ml of Double Cream with 1tbsp of icing sugar and spread it over your meringue. Decorate with your remaining fruit any way you wish before pouring the fruity sauce over the top.
Look how glossy it looks!
It is best to make and serve the Pavlova straight away to keep its freshness. It also prevents a soggy mess the next day as the fruit and meringue were never meant to co-exist for too long!
Melanie, Food Adventurer