My Great British Bake Off challenge continues with dessert week, and I decided to try and expand my baking repertoire by attempting meringues. I’ve never made meringue and I’ve yet to see a Bake Off series that doesn’t feature them in some way (this week they poached them as part of the technical challenge. I decided against that!), so the dessert I made was a summer berry pavlova.
My summer berry pavlova was basically just a meringue base topped with freshly whipped cream, a selection of summer berries and finished with a dusting of icing sugar. The result was extremely delicious (if not a little sweet) and I think it’s actually a great showcase dessert for a dinner party as it’s fairly easy to make, the meringue can be done in advance and the toppings added at the last minute, and I thought it looked deceptively impressive!
More about meringues:
The meringues were the only tricky thing to master in this dessert, so I did a bit of reading around in various books and online sources to try and identify the major pitfalls:
- The ratio you need is 2oz caster sugar for every egg white.
- You’ll need to whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks and then add sugar gradually whilst whisking. You end up with a glossy white mixture in the end.
- You need to avoid getting any egg yolk mixed in with the whites. Apparently it’s a good idea to split the eggs when cold from the fridge, but allow to reach room temperature (takes about 30 minutes) before whisking. Also I read a lot of advice suggesting using a metal or glass bowl.
- I didn’t get the high stiff peaks I wanted even after whisking for ages! Turns out it was a mistake to take a little break in the middle of the process –which I only did once or twice for a couple of minutes to check my book, but this was clearly not the thing to do! Piping edges onto my base didn’t really work.
- Even so, my finished meringue was crunchy on the outside and chewy and marshmallow-y on the inside, which is as meringue should be!
- I baked the meringue base on a low temperature (130°C) for 75 minutes and then left it in the oven to cool for several hours after, which allowed it to fully dry out.
- I didn’t add the toppings until I was ready to serve, as this would have made the meringue slightly soggy on top.
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