Perfect Summer meringues
Sally and I have been friends since we were 12. She makes perfect meringues. She always did. ‘Nuff said.
I can’t compete with the perfection of Sally’s meringues but she’s kindly agreed to let us into a couple of little secrets - read on to find out how she gets them so perfect and more excitingly, how she makes them. And that's not all - for Spring and Summer I can give you lovely, fresh British Herby versions which will surprise and delight.
Top tip no 1: Sally washes all her meringue making utensils in vinegar before she starts. This is to get rid of any trace of grease which will stop your meringues fluffing up.
Top tip no 2: don’t use freshly laid eggs. Eggs that have sat around for a few days will work better.
Use 55g of unrefined (or ordinary) caster sugar to one medium egg white but don’t get too hung up on egg size. Just follow these instructions. If you use 3 egg whites and 180g sugar you’ll get 6 big meringues.
Heat the oven to 140℃.
Put the caster sugar onto a baking tray and place in the oven as it’s warming up, or 5-10 minutes.
Take your bone dry and vinegar-washed large bowl and electric whisk. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then start to add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Keep whisking. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the next tablespoon and whisk again, repeating until the sugar is all used up. Then keep on whisking until the mixture is quite stiff and VERY glossy.
This is where the British Herb Kitchen comes in. Take 4 Lemon Verbena leaves (substitute with two Lemon Balm leaves) per egg white. Chop them very finely and fold them gently into the mix.
Sally then uses a large metal spoon to ‘quenelle’ her meringue mixture straight onto a baking sheet (in other words, scoop up a generous amount on a tablespoon and plop it down gently, keeping a spoony shape onto the baking sheet). Or you can put yours in a piping bag and pipe out more traditional meringue shapes if you prefer.
Put them in the oven and leave for 2 hours.
Turn off the oven and leave them in the cooling oven for an hour.
Eat with lashings of whipped cream, in an Eton mess, with English strawberries, Scottish raspberries or whatever takes your fancy.