Bake Off Challenge – Meringue
The Bake Off Challenges are a series of posts I’m doing to celebrate my 100th post. I’ve challenged myself to have a go at making something from, or inspired by, ‘The Great British Bake Off‘ – an English programme in which 12 contestants have to bake something different every week. It will hopefully improve my baking skills and as I go, I’ll spill my guts about how hard these things actually are to make!
This week’s bake off challenge was to make a layered meringue dessert, and I have to admit, I had a few problems with it. But before I go into any depth, LOOK WHAT MY MUM GOT ME!!!!
(And no, I don’t always wear socks in the house…).
It was going to be a birthday present for me, but my mum thought as I was doing a Bake Off Challenge, I would probably get more use out of it now. I spent ages flicking through the pages and looking at all the amazing recipes in there – there are some I can’t wait to try out!
I used the meringue recipe that was in the book, but I was a bit hasty and it all went a bit pear shaped at one point. Firstly, I separated four room temperature eggs (actually, two of them were fridge temperature, but no-one needs to know that).
I whipped up the egg whites in the food processor just until they were a bit frothy, and then added some cream of tartar before whipping some more.
I was meant to stop whipping when only soft peaks formed, but I got a bit carried away (i.e. I put the food processor on full speed and stood there laughing at all the power I had before I realised I should have stopped it about 2 minutes ago) so the mixture was quite a bit too stiff. And then after that I read the recipe wrong and instead of adding sugar a spoonful at a time, I just dumped a whole load in. Ah well! Once I’d realised my mistake, I just put the rest of the sugar in and gently folded it in to the mixture. I think my mistake compromised the airiness a little, but it didn’t make too much of a difference.
I transferred the mixture into a piping bag and then stuck some baking paper on trays with some of the mixture before piping out the designs for the meringues.
I haven’t really done much piping before, and as the design of the meringue on the bottom wouldn’t actually be seen, I decided to go with a simple spiral. Both bits of baking paper had a circle drawn on them using a plate as a template so the meringues would be about the same size. Not having done this before, I just piped right up to the edge without turning the baking paper over so once the meringues were cooked, they both had a pencil outline on the bottom of them! Next time, I would use a felt tip or something and turn the baking paper over so you can still see the line, but don’t risk getting poisoned!
For the second meringue that was destined for the top layer, I decided to try something that looked a little fancier and went for little peaks forming a circle. This was actually quite hard to do as each peak turned out a different size and there were tiny gaps all over it. I filled in the gaps afterwards but it made it look a bit lopsided in places.
The recipe in the book didn’t actually specify an oven temperature or cooking time as it varies depending on how big the meringues are, so it was a bit of trial and error on our part. I think we went for 160 degrees C and a couple of hours? We had to put the spiral one back in for a bit extra as it refused to unstick from the baking paper. We managed it eventually though!
While they were cooling, I started to prepare the filling by whipping up some double cream, chopping up strawberries and picking raspberries and a few blackberries from the garden.
I added half of the strawberries and raspberries/blackberries to the cream and then stirred it quite vigorously, pressing down hard on the fruit to crush it slightly. It worked really well and turned the cream an amazing pink colour. I then added the rest of the fruit, a sprinkling of icing sugar and stirred gently to finish the filling.
While I was making the filling, my mum also melted some white chocolate for me (I was in a bit of a rush at this point!) so that when the meringues were cool, I could spread some over the bottom meringue to prevent it getting soggy from the filling.
After this, it was simply a task of putting all the layers together.
I wasn’t too sure what to do in the way of decoration. It needed something, but I didn’t want to lose the effect of the top meringue after all that difficult piping! At first I was going to attempt a ganache and do something with that but I ran out of time. In the end, I just drizzled some of the leftover white chocolate over the top and sprinkled on some dried strawberries that we had and despite it not being planned, I don’t think it could have turned out much better!
This was a big hit with my family. I only made it yesterday and already over half of it’s gone! It’s kind of like a glorified eton mess, I guess. And the meringues turned out ok after all the screw ups, although the bottom one is determined to stick to everything possible. It is yuuummmm-mmy!
If you were going to make this though, I would start it quite early in the day so it can bake for as long as it needs to and you still have time to assemble and decorate before it’s time to eat it! It’s quite a lengthy process, but it’s so satisfying eating something completely home made. In this case, the meringues did actually taste better than shop bought ones too, as I find they can be quite hard and a bit too crunchy without the soft bit in the middle. Maybe that’s just me though? Either way, it went down very well!
Bring on the next Bake Off Challenge!