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Appears in

The Times Calendar Cookbook

By Katie Stewart

Published 1977

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Never use eggs that are cold from the refrigerator. Bring out the number required and allow them to come up to room temperature before using in a recipe. Egg whites in particular whisk up to a better volume when at room temperature.


Meringue toppings A meringue mixture used to decorate a pudding or pie should be made using 40–50 g(1½–2 oz) castor sugar per egg white.

A pudding served hot from the oven will require the smaller quantity of sugar. This produces a soft, less sweet meringue which combines deliciously with the pudding. About 10 minutes in a moderate oven (180°C., 350°F., Gas Mark 4) will brown the meringue attractively; serve at once.

For a meringue topping on a pie which is to be served cold, the full 50 g(2 oz) castor sugar should be used. This meringue is baked more slowly to dry the mixture out; it will hold a better and more attractive shape this way. Place in a cooler oven (150°C., 300°F., Gas Mark 2) and bake for 30 minutes or more. Allow the meringue to brown – it looks and tastes better.

Remember to sprinkle any meringue toppings with a little castor sugar before baking; this helps to ensure a crisp crust.

Meringue shells Ideally egg whites for meringue shells should be cracked and allowed to stand at room temperature for 24 hours before using. Egg whites that have been left over from a previous recipe and which have been standing for 2–3 days are excellent

Beat egg whites until very stiff before adding the sugar. Use castor sugar; make sure it is dry and sieve out any lumps. Allow 50 g(2 oz) per egg white. The sugar should be added slowly – ideally in three equal parts. The first two additions should be whisked in very thoroughly, but the final addition simply lightly folded in using a metal spoon to blend. Over-mixing at this final stage is what causes meringue mixtures to go soft.

Sprinkle unbaked meringue shells with sugar for a crisp crust. Try chopped walnuts or hundreds and thousands – they bake on prettily. Dry shells out in a cool oven (110°C., 225°F., Gas Mark ¼) with the oven door open. Meringues take 2–3 hours to dry out. Rotate the trays so that they dry evenly and when the shells are crisp turn them over to dry the underneath. Store in an airtight tin when cold – they keep well for several weeks so may be made in advance.