When I was a little girl, and life seemed to be a neverending queue of Sunday lunches at different houses, my mum’s “remingues”, as they were known by small children unable to say meringue, were legendary. Other children, and probably adults too, used to hang listlessly from chairs begging for the “remingues” to be brought out. Even people I’ve known since childhood still hanker for my mum’s “remingues”. Ever since I can remember, Mum has been cooking. One of my earliest memories is a tray of profiteroles that blew across the garden and then later, cooking for the WI markets. This involved trays of fish pies, lasagnes and bags of puffy, sleek and shiny meringues.
There are many different types of meringue, some people prefer the blowsy, sticky clouds spooned on to a baking sheet. For me, it is completely the immaculately piped, crispy shard-ish meringues that mum makes and has made since I can remember. I was always awe-struck by trays and trays of these bright white, glossy, swirls waiting to go in the oven and then eating the ones which had shattered in the heat.
Pavlova is really a giant meringue, with the addition of cornflour and vinegar to add the slightly chewy consistency. Instead of neat little piped confections, you create one huge disc. I like to then pipe meringues around the edge of this but you can spoon and people will still be delighted. Pavlovas are the kind of pudding that get an ‘ooh’ out of everyone and still taste amazing, no matter how many times you’ve eaten them. You can go fancy and exotic with the fruit, or anything else for that matter, but I like them traditional with summery fruit and drizzles of fresh cream and icing sugar.
Sometimes you see meringue or pavlova that is a caramel brown and sometimes a glossy bright white. This is usually a result of the speed at which you add the sugar to the egg whites and the heat of the oven. The hotter the oven, the higher the chance of caramelisation and therefore the browner your meringue will be.
I ate a huge pile of this while watching Downton on Sunday night and I can report that it was absolute bliss!
- 4 medium free-range egg whites
- 250g caster sugar
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 500g fresh raspberries
- 200g fresh blueberries
- 200g fresh rasberries
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 350ml double cream
- Preheat the oven to 130C.
- On a sheet of baking paper, using a pencil, draw a 23cm circle.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed when the whisk is removed. (Using an electric beater is really a must here)
- Only when it starts to take on a stiff consistency, whisk in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture stiffens further and starts to look like glossy foam.
- At this point, whisk in the white wine vinegar, cornflour and vanilla essence.
- On a baking tray, place the baking paper pencil-side down. Spoon the meringue into the circle and spread out with a spatula or palette knife. At this point, you can make a dip in the middle, or pipe up, spoon up an outer ring of meringue. This will give you a space to fill.
- Bake the meringue in the oven for two hours, or until the meringue shell has hardened but not coloured. At this point, turn off the oven and leave the meringue inside until the oven has cooled.
- Pour the double cream into a bowl and whisk until soft and peaked. When you have taken out the pavlova, and allowed it to cool. Spread the middle of the pavlova with the cream, top with your fruit and sprinkle with icing sugar.
- Devour with a spoon.