Anneka Manning, a food author, mum of two and passionate baker behind BakeClub, joins us each month to share some of her industry tips, tricks and 25 years worth of experience. Today she’s gives her top ten tips for creating the perfect meringue. Plus, she shares her recipe for seriously impressive Mini Summer Berry Pavlovas. Yum!
How to Make the Perfect Meringue
I love the transformation that egg whites go through when whisked with sugar – from a viscose, clear liquid to a glossy, snowy-white clouds of mixture that can only be described as heavenly!
Crisp meringues, ever-popular pavolva, rich meringue and nut-based tortes and Italian macaroons are just some of the treats based on a whisked egg white and sugar mixture. Making meringue is a fabulous technique to master and, although not difficult, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure success – here are my top 10 tips……
10 Top Tips When Making Meringue
1. Moisture is not good for meringue mixtures. Hot, humid or rainy days aren’t good for making meringue. Moisture in the air can stop the meringue from drying properly and becoming crisp, and can also make the meringue ‘weep’ either during or after baking. You also need to make sure the bowl and equipment you are using is completely dry before coming into contact with the egg whites.
2. Like in most baking, it is best to use eggs at room temperature; room-temperature egg whites will hold more air than chilled ones when whisked.
3. Caster sugar is best used for this mixing method, as it will dissolve more readily than regular granulated sugar.
4. Remember that any trace of fat, including egg yolk, will stop the egg whites from foaming and increasing in volume when whisked. Make sure all your equipment – bowl, whisk, spatula or large metal spoon – are super clean. Also make sure they are completely dry, as moisture will have the same negative affect.
5. Don’t ever use a plastic bowl when whisking egg whites. Traces of fat can be trapped in the surface of the bowl and, as you know (see previous point), fat isn’t good when whisking egg whites. Stainless steel, glass or copper bowls are the best to use when whisking egg whites.
6. Always separate your eggs into a small ramekin before adding the white to the mixing bowl. If any yolk gets into the white while you are separating them it is easy to remove. Also, if you can’t remove the yolk completely you only have to throw away that one egg white and not the whole batch that you have already separated.
7. Use the whisk attachment if using a stand mixer or hand-held electric beaters. If your hand-held beaters don’t have a whisk attachment, just use the standard beaters.
8. You can also use a balloon whisk for this method but keep in mind it will take you a lot longer (about four times longer!) to get to the desired consistency than if using an electric mixer. Whisk the egg whites on their own on medium speed just until ‘soft’ peaks form (when the whisk is lifted and the mixture forms a ‘peak’ that then falls on itself) before starting to add the sugar.
9. When you start to add the sugar do it gradually, a large spoonful at a time. Whisk the mixture on medium after each addition for about 45 seconds, or until well combined.
10. Increase the speed to high once all the sugar has been added and whisk for another 2-3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves completely (rub a little mixture between your thumb and finger to test this) and the mixture is very thick and glossy (when you lift the whisk, a long trailing peak should form). Don’t continue to whisk once this point is reached. If over-whisked there is a chance the mixture will collapse during cooking and beads of liquid sugar will form on the surface of the meringue
So now it’s time to get into the kitchen and to make use of these great tips. These divine Mini Summer Berry Pavlovas will bring praise for your baking to you all summer long!
Mini Summer Berry Pavlova Recipe
Preparation time: 30 minutes (+2 hours cooling time)
Baking time: 50-60 minutes
What You’ll Need:
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons cornflour
- 220g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 11/2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
- 250g fresh mixed berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, red currants and hulled small strawberries)
- 2 teaspoons icing sugar
- 150g frozen raspberries, defrosted
- 11/2 tablespoons icing sugar
- 150ml thickened cream, whipped
What You Do:
- Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and then preheat it to 110°C. Line a large oven tray with baking paper.
- Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites in a large bowl on medium speed until foamy. Add the salt, vinegar and cornflour and whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form (this will take about 1 minute).
- With the motor running, add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking well after each addition, until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is very thick and glossy (this will take 4-5 minutes). Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Use a spatula to stir the meringue mixture to ‘loosen’ it slightly (this will get rid of any excess air in the mixture and give it a smoother, less ‘foamy’ texture).
- Spoon 6 large ovals of mixture onto the lined tray and use the back of a metal spoon to make an intent in the center of each. Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until the meringue is crisp and hard to touch, but not coloured. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar (see Baker’s Tips) and cool completely in the oven (this will take about 2 hours).
- To make the Macerated Berries, place berries in a bowl, sprinkle with the icing sugar, stir gently and then set aside for 30 minutes.
- To make the Raspberry Cream, place raspberries and icing sugar in a small food processor (or use a hand/stick blender) and process until pureed. Press the raspberry puree through a sieve and discard the seeds. Swirl half the raspberry puree through the whipped cream. Fill each pavlova with the Raspberry Cream and then top with the Macerated Berries. Serve immediately with the remaining berry puree passed separately.
- Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door ajar if it won’t stay slightly open on its own when cooling the pavlovas.
- The unfilled pavlova shells will keep in an airtight container in a cool place (not the fridge), for up to 1 day.