There aren’t many dishes that I think of as traditionally English but Eton Mess is definitely one of them. I mean when someone told me that the national dish here was Chicken Tikka Masala I bursted out laughing; that doesn’t even sound English. Surely Bangers and Mash, Fish and Chips, a roast dinner or even an English breakfast would be more suitable for such a title? But then again stealing and appropriating is something that the English do well, no offence.
Anyway an ex boyfriend introduced me to Eton Mess and I fell in love (with the dessert not him). Despite being so simple it was incredibly delicious not that I should have been surprised considering strawberries and cream, much like strawberries and chocolate, is a match made in heaven. Soak the strawberries in a bit of rum and Pimm’s, in the spirit of British summer, and then your tongue is ready for a party.
As I look outside and see cloudy grey skies with light, but consistent, showers it feels as though Summer has escaped the city of London and is showing no signs of return. This Eton Mess recipe gives us hope that the sunshine might come again, with strawberries in season it is worth challenging my fears. What fears you ask? Is it that serious you wonder? Well yes it is because I must confess that recipes that require heavy whisking of egg whites or include large quantities of flour (i.e. baking bread or making pasta) do intimidate me. I think this is why I have taken so long to make meringues. If you have ever had store bought meringue and not understood why meringues are desirable then I urge you to make meringues at home so you can discover what you’ve been missing.
Real meringues are slightly crunchy on the outside, spongey in the middle and ridiculously easy to make with so much palatable reward that you would be absolutely foolish not to face you fears or dismiss your doubts and make them at home. I whisked my eggs with brown sugar hence the caramel colour and literally put the bowl over my head to ensure they were whipped enough. Then all I needed was a bit of patience and that’s it, yumminess came out of the oven. I challenge anyone to make Eton Mess look pretty, the hint is in the name but I’d like to think I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself.
Hold onto the vibe of summer with or without the sun.
Live, Love, Eat!
- 2 Egg Whites
- 115g sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 15 strawberries
- 150ml extra heavy double cream
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract with seeds
- 2 capfuls of Pimm's
- 1 capful of Jamaican rum
- 1/2 tablespoon of icing sugar
- Preheat the oven at 110 °C/ 230 ºF
- Add the 2 egg whites, a generous pinch of salt and sugar to a bowl and then whisk until you have stiff peaks and you can safely put the bowl over your head without the egg whites falling. This will take about 3 mins with an electric mixer.
- Spread the egg white mixture over grease paper, don't worry about the shape because you will break up the meringue.
- Bake for 2 hours, after an hour check every thirty minute. When the outside is crispy (crispy not crusty like someone's foot bottom) it is finished.
- Meanwhile slice the strawberries, sprinkle icing sugar and soak in Pimm's and Rum. Then refrigerate.
- When you have removed the meringues from the oven, whisk the cream and vanilla extract but only for about a minute, do not over whip because it will split!
- Break the meringue into 1" pieces and put in a bowl.
- Mix cream, meringue and strawberries (without the soaking liquid) and serve.