Lemon Meringue

If you’ve never made a meringue before, you’re definitely missing out – it’s honestly one of the easiest desserts you can make, and yet with a bit of whipped cream and fresh fruit you can make it look pretty spectacular. In this version I’ve gone for something slightly different, since it’s hard to get the right kind of fruit, fresh and in season, at this time of year. The whipped cream is flavoured with lemon curd, which gives it a lovely subtle zing that perfectly balances the heady sweetness of the meringue itself.

3 large egg whites
175g white caster sugar
100ml double cream
1 dessert spoonful of lemon curd

Serves 4-6.

Although merginues are really, really easy to make, there are a few things you need to remember. First of all, you mustn’t get any egg yolk in the egg whites when you separate them (otherwise they don’t stiffen properly when you beat them), and second of all, once baked, the meringue needs at least an hour (more if you can manage it) to sit in the cooling oven and dry out. Keep those two things in mind and you can’t go wrong.

To start, carefully separate the eggs (if you don’t want to waste them, you could always use the yolks to make my Raspberry Crème Brûlée) and then beat the whites with a hand mixer – use the whisk attachment if you have one – until they form soft peaks. Don’t overbeat them or they’ll start going runny again.

Next, weigh out the sugar and then add it to the egg whites one tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat them all the time. Once you’ve added about half of the sugar you can pour the rest in in one go. You should end up with a thick, white, shiny meringue mixture – if you feel like it’s starting to turn runny again, just stop beating immediately and it should be ok. If for any reason it goes completely runny on you, simply skip the next step and instead line a small tin with greaseproof paper, then pour the meringue mixture in and allow it to spread to the edges. It might not look quite as neat but it’ll still taste delicious.

Preheat the oven to 150˚C (140˚C fan). Spread a piece of greaseproof paper on a baking tray (don’t grease it, just flatten it out so it’ll stay still), then carefully pour the meringue into the middle. It should spread out into a circle but stop before it gets close to the edges of the tray. With your spoon or spatula, rough the top up a bit so you’ve got a few peaks, otherwise the whole thing will just rise up in the middle.

Carefully place in the oven, then turn the heat down to 140˚C (130˚C fan) and bake for one hour. When your timer goes off, turn the oven off but leave the meringue in there, and don’t be tempted to open the door for a look, unless you’re really worried – in which case, have the very quickest of peeks and then keep the door firmly shut. Leave the meringue to dry out and crisp up until the oven has completely cooled, and longer if you can.

To make the cream topping, simply whip the double cream until it starts to form soft peaks, then add the lemon curd and beat it in – again, don’t over-beat, or in this case, the cream will start to go a bit lumpy & won’t look as nice. Spread it on the top of the meringue and serve dusted with icing sugar, for a delicious taste of summer.