a quick and dirty pavlova
Strawberries, there are two things that spring to mind at the hearing of the word: i-want-to-have some-now and England. Why England? Because they have the smallest, tastiest and most fragrant little berries to show off, especially this time of the year. By far my favourite fruit, little punnets of strawberries would be flooding the markets from mid-May to early July and you could even go strawberry picking just a little further south of London. Along with strawberry punnets comes Eton mess, the ultimate meringue-strawberry dessert.Head straight to the recipe
You cannot get a more British summer pudding than Eton mess. Eton being typically associated with its distinguished graduates, it is very refreshing it has also named this delicious dessert. It appears that Eton mess made its appearance on the annual cricket tournament in the ’30s, its early edition involved ice-cream and bananas rather than strawberries. Later came the addition of meringues and the strawberries established their presence. There is also the Labrador, running around the college’s grounds, excitement unleashed, she toppled over and landed straight into nonchalant pic-nickers strawberry pavlova. Thus the mess, an Eton mess.
As jolly as it might be, truth is that the Labrador story exists only to tingle the imagination and similarly to the pavlova, nobody has a clue who coined Eton mess. What I do love about the Eton mess though, is that it’s quick, fuss-free and ideal for nervous bakers that want to play with meringues for the first time. You will break them anyway, so no need to worry about them being pristine.
My meringue ingredients are exactly the same as for the pavlova. It makes approx. 70-75 small meringues, of course you can half the dosage if you only need a few. My advice though is to make a larger batch and keep some in an airtight container for later.
Meringues (makes 70-75 small meringues or a pavlova base)
4 egg whites
250 gr caster sugar
1 tsp of cornflour
1 tsp white-wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the cream:
250 ml whipping cream
2 tsp of icing sugar (it depends on how sweet you like it, I normally don’t add any)
750 gr of strawberries
What to do:
For the meringues:
- Whisk the egg whites in low/medium speed. (this will allow less air and they won’t depuff later).
- Once stiff peaks are formed start adding the sugar, a spoonful at a time. Then continue with the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract and whisk until glossy.
- The meringue is ready when stiff peaks are formed. You don’t need to turn the bowl upside down, just dip in a whisk and take it out, facing upwards: the meringue should remain stiff, looking upwards, defying gravity.
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment and with the help of two tablespoons lay spoonfuls of meringue with a bit of breathing space (they puff up)
- Preheat the oven to 150ºC/120°C fan and bake for 15 minutes. Switch off the oven and let them sit to cool down completely.
Whip your cream. You can add the icing sugar now, I normally don’t add any as it turns out too sweet for my liking, but feel free to taste and try.
Raw Strawberry puree
No hard science required for this. If you would like something syrup-like running through your Eton mess, just pop in your food processor ¼ of your strawberries with 1 tbsp of water and whizz for 1 minute.
Hull and chop the rest of the strawberries in four, place them in a strainer and retain the juice. I am normally quite happy with this easy version.
The best part, just a notch before tasting, is of course assembling your dessert. There is just one rule on how to make an Eton …mess, you have to make it just before you serve, otherwise the meringues will go soggy and you will loose the texture. Other than that you can smash and mix and make a mess at will.
Hope you will get to enjoy this with good company. I am not alone in this post either, some great Greek food bloggers were playing with strawberries too, check out what they made:
Eva from Real Family food made panacota with yoghurt and honey, topped with roast strawberry sauce
From Athens with love,