The Telegraph baking columnist Flora Shedden advises that the key to a good meringue is to use good quality eggs – and to go low and slow.
The recipe she gives below can be used as a base for a batch of meringues, one pavlova or even 30-40 little meringue kisses
‘In my mind, the key to a good meringue is to use good quality eggs. I’ve read all sorts of methods where people separate the whites and allow them to “age” in order to improve the whisking process. I don’t believe this adds much to the end result and find it to be more effort than necessary,” says Shedden.
“Use a good quality large egg, with a shell that breaks easily (small eggs from supermarkets and intensively farmed eggs have a tough shell. These tend not to make for good meringues as they often don’t contain a huge amount of egg white). It is also important not to over-whisk, as this can affect the end result.
“You are looking for glossy peaks with a smooth texture when rubbed between two fingers. And finally, low and slow is crucial – never try to hurry a pavlova as it will crack and you will loose that delicious soft centre.”
4 large egg whites (approximately 150g)
300g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
½ tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp cornflour
300ml double cream
2 regular kiwis, peeled
2 golden kiwis (if you can find them – or use regular instead), peeled
Small bunch fresh mint leaves
20g coconut flakes
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a free-standing mixer. Whisk on full speed until soft peaks form.
Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time with mixer still running, making sure it is well incorporated before you add the next spoonful. This takes around five minutes.
Turn the mixer off and feel a bit of the meringue between two fingers. If it is still grainy, continue to whisk. Once silky-smooth to touch, add the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour and whisk again briefly. This is now ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 140ºC/Gas 1.
Draw a 23cm circle on a piece of greaseproof paper and use it to line a baking tray. Tip the prepared meringue onto the paper and spread the mixture out to the shape of the circle. It will be quite thick but this helps it form a pillow-like centre.
Bake for 2½ hours before turning the oven off and allowing the meringue to cool inside completely. Remove the meringue from the oven once cooled.
Whip the cream to form very soft peaks then spread on top of the pavlova. Slice the kiwis and scatter over the top.
Slice the mint and sprinkle over, along with the coconut.
This is best served immediately but can be kept in the fridge for up to six hours.
* Flora’s cookbook, Gatherings (published by Mitchell Beazley), is for sale online at from books.telegraph.co.uk.