Summer: it’s time for fresh and rapid dishes, fruit and vegetable salads, panzanella and pasta salad, ice cream and juices. MAximum time cooking permitted is 15 minutes to have a rice salad or 5 minutes to have a boiled egg… Despite all this reasonable causes, I decided to face the August heath and bake meringues!
The only condition: Mum has to be on holidays! Then, with the help of three leftover egg whites and the total mastery of the house and all the household appliances, I gave myself up completely to the wonderland of meringues, with Jamie as my personal White Rabbit!
- egg whites, 3
- caster sugar, 150 gr
- salt, 1 pinch
I know there are tons of standard procedures, scientific treatise and erudite dissertations on how to make the perfect meringues, but it was summer, it was hot and it was afternoon, and all I need was Jamie and his witty words!
So, I leave place to Jamie’s own words(*):
Preheat your oven to 150°C/300°F/gas 2 (mine was at 90°C, and it was perfect!)
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Put your egg whites into a bowl, making sure there are absolutely no little pieces of egg shell or egg yolk in them. Whisk on medium until the whites form firm peaks. You’ll know that it’s thick enough if you can hold the bowl upside down over your head – in 15 years of cooking it’s only fallen on my head once!
With your mixer still running, gradually add the sugar and the pinch of salt. Turn the mixer up to the highest setting and whisk for about 7 or 8 minutes until the meringue mixture is deliciously white and glossy. Dip your finger in the meringue and rub the mixture between your thumb and index finger. It should feel perfectly smooth. If it feels at all grainy, whisk for a little bit longer. Keep a close eye on the meringue, because if you whisk it for too long, it will collapse.
It’s at this point that you can gently fold in one of the flavours from the list below if you fancy. Personally, I quite like to eat a meringue that has a secret extra flavour added to it, especially when it’s so subtle that you end up kicking yourself trying to work out what it is! Choose one of the following:
• a good pinch of saffron
• zest of 2 oranges
• a handful of pistachio nuts, bashed
• 1 teaspoon mixed spice
• zest of 3 lemons
• 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
• 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped (I used dried ginger powder, delicious!)
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
Spoon your plain or flavoured meringue mixture on to the prepared baking tray, either in one big blob or several smaller ones, leaving a bit of space between them. Dab them with the bottom of your spoon so you get wispy bits coming up from the surface of the meringue. Pop the baking tray into the oven for around an hour, until the meringues are crisp on the outside and chewy and a little gooey in the middle.
Bake meringues for 2 – 3 hours, according to their shape. I decided to make small meringues, so I baked them for more or less two hours. They were perfect, crunchy outside and chewy inside, with a hint of ginger which was absolutely perfect for summer… JAMIE RULES!
(*) Cook with Jamie, 2006.