Monday, 11 June 2012

Strawberries and Meringue - the Perfect Teatime Treat

At the V & A for lunch in April I spied these large meringues and couldn't resist buying one.  But oh, the disappointment, they were very hard, no soft chewy centre, no softly crumbling outer crust and the jam and clotted cream that accompanied them was completely inadequate.

Ever since my disappointment I wanted to make my own - I finally made some yesterday.  They were glorious, they had the soft and chewy almost marshmallow like centre, softly crumbling outer crust and just the right amount of sweetness.  We had them this evening with strawberries.  In fact, I could eat another right now.

The meringues were simplicity itself -

3 egg whites
180g golden caster sugar
pinch of salt
half teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of cornflour

Oven preheated to 140C

Egg whites, salt and vinegar into a bowl - whisk (I used a hand held electric whisk - but you can use whatever you like, I don't have the patience for manually whisking and it seemed too small an amount to bother getting out the stand mixer).  Once the egg whites were stiff I added the teaspoon of cornflour and gradually added the sugar a little at a time.  Once all mixed in it was time to dollop great big spoonfuls of eggy mixture onto a baking tray (which I had previously lined with baking parchment).  These were baked in the oven for an hour and a half, at which time I turned off the heat and left them in the cooling oven overnight.

I think they look fabulous this big - don't think I will ever make small meringues again.

This evening we had them with strawberries and cream.  I cut up a 400g box of strawberries, some of which I cut smaller, placed in a small frying pan with a dessertspoonful of caster sugar.  I heated these and mashed them with a fork and let them bubble for about five minutes.

Then began the assembly - one meringue, a large spoonful of fresh strawberries, two spoonfuls of the cooked strawberries poured over the meringue, a little sprinkling of icing sugar and finally a little cream.

So, I thought I would enter these into the Teatime Treats Challenge organised by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked - this month's host.

The theme for this month's Teatime Treats Challenge is Summer Fruits.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Passionfruit Shortcakes - Afternoon Tea with Fleur and Forever Nigella

Half term brings more time for baking and a general winding down, albeit only for a week!   The beginning of the month also means that lots of blog challenges have just begun, I am determined that this month I will enter as many as I bake for, by that I mean, each time I bake or cook a recipe with the intention of entering it into a challenge - I will blog it in good time, I can't tell you the number of times I have left it too late or forgotten!

So, this is the first time I have blogged for Forever Nigella, a challenge usually hosted by Maison Cupcake, but which is hosted by Homemade by Fleur this month.

What would appear to be an easy challenge soon becomes a challenge of a different kind - which of the many afternoon tea options to choose.  I finally settled on Forever Summer simply because I was making something else from that book for dinner one evening last week and stumbled across these shortcakes, which I have to say are just as yummy on their own as with passionfruit and cream.

Here then is how they are made:


325g Plain Flour
half a teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
5 tablespoons caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, frozen
1 large egg, beaten
125ml single cream
1 egg white, lightly beaten

For the filling:

250ml double cream
3 large passionfruit (or 6 small)

The oven will need to be preheated to 200C/gas mark 6.

This is a pretty straightforward recipe actually - simply sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl (although only 3 tablespoons of the caster sugar - reserving two tablespoons to sprinkle over the shortcakes before they go into the oven), grate the frozen butter into these dry ingredients, once grated (using the largest/coarsest holes of the grater) you simply rub the butter into the flour as you would for scones or pastry. Once done, I whisked the egg into the cream and beat them together then added this mixture gradually to the flour/butter combination - I used all of this cream/egg mixture (but you may find it unnecessary) and mixed it all together with a fork.

Once done I put the large scone-like lump of dough onto my marble slab which I had dusted with flour and rolled it out to a thickness of approximately 2 cms - then I used a round cutter 6.5cms to cut out rounds.  I had to re-form and roll out several times but did manage to get about ten rounds (give or take a round or two as I didn't count but looking back I know I got considerably more than six).

The shortcakes were placed on a lined baking tray, the tops brushed with the beaten egg white and then sprinkled with caster sugar (the reserved two tablespoons).  These were then placed in the oven for just about 15 minutes and were absolutely delicious just about cooled enough to taste!

For some reason the cream wouldn't hold firm - so we had it runny which was just as yummy!

Homemade by Fleur