I’ve only recently started making my own meringues. It came about after a weekend at the Serpentine Lido. The swans were out and my five year old commented on how much more graceful they were than the ducks at our local pond. This, I told her, was why there weren’t any ballets about them.
And thus began a conversation about Anna Pavlova, the Russian prima ballerina who danced the role of The Dying Swan more than 4,000 times and had a dessert created in her honour. That was it for Helena. She insisted we had to make a pavlova for Sunday lunch.
Since then, we’ve been on a meringue making kick. Below is our recipe. It’s very easy and yields lovely marshmallowy meringues as light and fluffy as Anna Pavlova’s tutu.
cream of tartar
*Weigh you egg whites. Double this weight and that’s how much caster sugar to use. For each egg white, add 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
Preheat the oven to Gas 2/150°C/300°F.
Line a metal baking tray with wax paper.
Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites then beat them with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a dessertspoonful at a time and continue beating until well incorporated and there is no sugary grit at the bottom of the mixture. When the mixture is smooth and glossy, it’s ready to be baked. Do be careful not to over beat the mixture or the meringues won’t rise properly.
Pipe or spoon the meringues on to the wax paper. If you’re making a pavlova, spread the mixture into a large circle.
Put them in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to Gas 1/140°C/275°F. Allow them to bake for an hour and a half. Rotate your tray halfway in between. After this time, turn the oven off but leave the meringues in there to cool.
Enjoy them on their own, with ice cream, or berries and whipped cream.