How to make meringue

Meringue forms the basis of many classic desserts. From simple meringue shells sandwiched together with cream and fruit through to pavlova, lemon meringue pie, baked Alaska and floating islands (soft poached meringues on vanilla custard), they are all made using the same basic mixture from just egg whites and caster sugar.

Watch the video to learn how to make basic meringue with 4 eggs, sugar, cornflour and vinegar.

It’s not difficult to make meringues but there are a few golden rules. Firstly, when separating the eggs make sure there is no trace of yolk in the egg white. If there is you’ll never get the egg white to whisk until thick and foamy. The same goes for the bowl and whisk, they must be spotlessly clean and dry with no trace of fat as this will also prevent the egg white whisking. To make sure, you can rub a cut lemon over the bowl and whisk and then dry with kitchen paper. The egg whites should also be at room temperature, if used straight from the fridge the volume of finished meringue will be less.

Use 55g caster sugar to each medium egg white. You can use half caster sugar and half light muscovado for a toffee flavour which is delicious but the texture will be chewier. When whisking in the sugar add it just 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk really well in between each addition. This will result in a thick glossy meringue.

Cook meringues in a really low oven to keep them white. If you like them soft inside remove them from the oven after the cooking time, for a crisper texture leave them to cool and dry out in the turned off oven.

Ingredients

  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 1tsp cornflour
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar