There’s a handful of things which Granny has baked throughout my childhood, that to this day can transport me back in time. Just the mere smells of meringues baking takes me back to Granny’s kitchen circa 1998, when she used to churn out dozens of them for the local cafes to serve.
Truth be told, I never really appreciated a meringue until I was into adulthood. They were just one of those bakes that were always in supply at Granny’s house but that we never really got the opportunity to eat. Plus the idea of sugar eggs wasn’t something I really fancied as a kid. But when I hit adulthood and tried an Eton Mess in a restaurant; suddenly my mind was blown. Sugary eggs were absolutely delicious with topped with cream and berries! Who’d have thought?!
More than just the sugary eggs I thought they were, the perfect meringue has that crunchy, crumbly white shell. And inside is the airy, slightly chewing, mallow-like middle. Sweet on it’s own but balanced out beautifully with some cream, fruit, ice cream, on a cake or atop a lemon pie! The uses for meringues are only limited by your own imagination.
Often people are scared to try baking meringues, presumably because it can seem like there’s a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong. That being said, if you follow Granny’s simple meringue recipe to the letter, as well as following her top tips, you too can open up the world of successful meringue making for yourself.
Super fresh egg whites are by far the most superior when it comes to meringues. But if you happen to be using a recipe that calls for only the egg yolks, such as our Custard Tarts, then the egg whites you have left over will be just fine for making meringues too.
You can buy cartons of egg whites and powdered egg whites. These can be a good alternative but you may notice a slight difference in the overall flavour and texture of your meringue. Plus you can’t guarantee these will be free-range eggs, so with that in mind, it’s better to stick to fresh eggs.
Granny has always used caster sugar in her meringues. Some recipes will call for icing sugar, or a mix of both icing and caster sugar but given that Granny has been successfully baking meringues for over 40 years, you’ll just need to trust us when we say that caster sugar is best!
Granny’s Top Tips
♥ You want all your equipment for meringue making to be extremely clean and completely grease free. Before you start, wash your bowl, spoons, spatulas and beaters/whisk is soapy boiling (or very hot) water, before drying with a clean paper towel. Then be sure not to place them onto any unwashed surfaces. And if you plan to use a piping bag to shape your meringues, use a fresh, unused, disposable one.
♥ The idea with baking meringues is not so much to bake them but to dry them out. This means a low temperature oven and plenty of patience. It might also seem a bit unnecessary to leave your meringues to then cool in the oven too but removing them too early and exposing them to a difference in temperature can cause them to crack. Although if you plan on breaking them up as part of an Eton Mess this wouldn’t be such an issue.
♥ When you need to secure your grease proof paper on the baking sheet, simply take a small blob of the meringue mixture and pop it onto each corner of your baking sheet, before placing your grease proof paper on top. This will stop your paper moving about whilst you shape your meringues.
- 3 Free-range Egg Whites (whites only)
- 150 g Caster Sugar
- Ensure all your equipment is clean and completely free from any grease before starting.
- Pre-heat your oven to 110°c (100°c for fan assisted ovens or Gas Mark ¼) Line a baking sheet with some greaseproof paper and set aside.
- In your clean bowl, whisk your egg whites until they reach soft peaks. Using an electric hand whisk is preferable, as it will ensure a steady whisking speed and take less time, although whisking by hand is of course possible too.
- Once your egg whites have reached soft peaks, continue to whisk whilst them whilst adding the sugar a spoonful at a time, ensuring each spoonful is mixed in before adding the next.
- As you add the sugar, you should see the mixture start to thicken and become a glossy white. Continue to mix until all the sugar is added and the mix has reached stiff peaks.
- Once the mixture has reached stiff peaks, you are ready to make your meringue shapes. You can use a piping bag to create uniform meringues, or simply spoon them into little mountains. This recipe will make about 4 large meringues or 6 medium meringues.
- Spoon or pipe your meringues onto the pre-lined baking sheet, leaving a little space between each. Place the meringues into your pre-heated oven and bake for 1.5-2 hours, depending on the size of your meringues (the smaller the meringue, the quicker they'll bake).
- After your baking time, switch the oven off and leave the meringues in. Allow them to cool in the oven before removing – this helps prevent the meringues from cracking from the sudden change in temperature outside the oven.
Free-from & Vegan
• Free-form: Meringues are generally fine for any allergy suffers, aside from egg allergies. As always, double check your other ingredients for any hidden allergens.
• Vegan: As this recipe uses eggs, it is not vegan. Many recipes for vegan meringues substitute the egg with aquafaba, however I’ve yet to try this myself so can’t recommend the quantities required at this time.