Recipe of the Week

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Eton Mess

The combination of cream, meringue, fruit and sauce is sublime (i.e. really yummy). The generally accepted story is that the strawberry, meringue and cream pudding was dropped at an Eton v Harrow cricket match in the late 19th century and rather than waste the food, it was simply scooped up off the floor and served, smashed to bits, in individual bowls. There is an alternate version, involving a Labrador and a picnic in the 1930s. That one, however, can’t be true – the first record of the name in print dates to 1893. Eton is a private school west of London near Windsor, where many of our politicians and ministers including Boris Johnson were taught as well as some other famous people such as Eddy Redmayne and Bear Grylls.

Ingredients

  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 500g strawberries (or 250g and use strawberry sauce)
  • 1tbsp icing sugar (not if you are using strawberry sauce)
  • 400ml double cream

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 120° GM 1/2 and line two baking sheets.
  2. Separate the eggs very carefully. Any yolk, even the tiniest bit will stop the egg white turning into a foam. Whisk (use an electric one if you can) the egg whites in a very clean glass or metal bowl. (NOT plastic) until they form soft peaks (the foam sticks up like a mound) Add the caster sugar gradually and continue to whisk until thoroughly mixed. It will be shiny and smooth when done.
  3. Place rounded spoonful’s or pipe the mixture on a lined baking tray and bake for 60 -75 minutes. One done, turn the oven off but leave the meringues inside, with the door slightly open to cool off, if you can.
  4. Remove the leaves of the strawberries and chop half of them and put them in a blender with the icing sugar to make a puree. Blend until smooth and sieve to remove the seeds.
  5. Chop the rest of the strawberries and whip up the double cream. Break up the meringues into about one-inch pieces, put them in a mixing bowl, add the strawberries and fold the cream in around them. Don’t go mad and stir to much, or it really will be a mess!
  6. Gently fold in all but 2tbsp of the puree/sauce to give a marbled effect. Place the mixture in a serving dish and spoon the rest of the puree over the top.
  7. Serve immediately. Preferably without dropping, and away from excitable Labradors or irate ministers of state.

Top tips

  • Take note of my point about the egg yolk and wash and dry any equipment before you use it to remove all traces of grease/fat.
  • Plastic bowls can be hard to clean well enough so stick to glass, ceramic or metal (Copper is best…. Although who has them?)
  • Be very careful whipping the cream…. go too far and you will have butter and buttermilk…and there is no going back