I recently posted a recipe for my Berry Pavlova. It was a recipe I never intended to make until I stumbled upon some reduced fruit in my local supermarket. I have to admit this was my first ever Pavlova (what?! I know right?!) and it was a recipe that I really struggled with. I just COULD NOT get my meringue to go how they are meant to. The first batch was over whipped and resembled deflated clouds! The second batch didn’t whisk properly because I hadn’t dried my bowl out completely and the third batch for some reason didn’t whisk properly so the top was like fluffy clouds and the bottom was untouched egg whites (YUCK!) it was my fourth attempt when I finally got it right!
It was this that inspired me to write this blog post. I want to try and write more “chatty” blog posts this New Year and I figured this was a great one to start with. Hopefully, after reading this and learning from my mistakes, you’re meringues will turn out PERFECT every time!
The freshness of the Egg
When making meringue the freshness and temperature of the egg are so important! When eggs are fresh the whites are very tightly knit the older the egg the proteins start to pull away from each other which makes them thinner. When you come to whisking the eggs the older the egg the foamier they will be. This is good because you will probably end up getting more volume from the egg but bad because we don’t want foamy eggs we need cloud like eggs.
Using a Clean Bowl
This is why my second batch didn’t work there was water at the bottom of my bowl which is exactly what you don’t want when making meringues. Everything needs to be super clean and super dry. Any grease or oil in your bowl will stop your eggs whisking up too full volume. The best bowls to use are glass, metal or copper. Plastic bowls tend to harbour oil which makes them pretty useless for meringues. A tip to make sure your bowl is clean is to rub half a lemon around the sides of your bowl, just make sure you wipe it really dry with kitchen roll afterwards.
Don’t overbeat the Egg Whites
So this is the first mistake I made. I thought the egg whites didn’t look anywhere near ready so I nipped out of the kitchen for a few things came back literally two minutes later and they were a mussy overmixed mess! The second time I mixed them I found it easier to whisk using a hand mixer rather than a stand mixer as then I had to stay with them I couldn’t just nip out the room again and I had a better idea of how whisked the eggs were.
For merignue you need stiff peaks – stiff peaks are where the eggs are cloud-like and they don’t move. When you take the whisk out the meringue on the end of it should still be holding its shape. It shouldn’t droop and it definitely shouldn’t fall off.
How and When to Add the Sugar.
Only add the sugar when your egg whites resemble stiff peaks. For meringues you need a LOT of patience, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time. Leaving a break after each tablespoon so that the sugar can be mixed into the egg whites. By the time you have added every tablespoon, the egg whites should be shiny and marshmallowy.
Piping your meringues
If you choose to pipe your meringue onto the baking parchment instead of dollop then make sure not to knock all of the air out of your meringues. If you have gone through every other stage and have the perfect meringue mixture, shiny and cloud like the last thing you want to do is squeeze all the air out and end up with flat meringues. Be gentle when piping squeezes the bag gently and make sure there is a gap between the piping tip and the baking parchment.
Like the rest of the process for making meringue, baking is slooooow. For the best results have the oven low and bake for around an hour or longer depending on how big your pavlova is. Once they have baked turn the oven off and leave the meringues in until the oven has cooled completely. I prefer to do this overnight, so I bake my meringues turn the oven off and go to bed, when I wake up in the morning the meringues are cooled. Otherwise, bake them in the morning and leave them in the oven as you go about your day, and take them out in the evening.
If you take the meringues out of the oven as soon as they are finished baking then the sudden change in temperature will cause your meringue to crack.
Hopefully, this has helped you out with making your meringues. If you make any tag #sarahscakeblog and let me see your beautiful creations!
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