How do I make….Meringue?

meringueAh, yes. The fluffy pillows of billowing meringue….crunchy on the outside, chewy within. Add a splurge of cream and some tart berries and just dissolve into a taste and texture sensation that is hard to resist.

So, why did it take me years to actually feel brave enough to make it? Perhaps because whenever I have suggested making it I envisage the pursed lips of my grandmother, shaking her head, ‘FAR too difficult, dear. Stick to rock cakes.’

My son LOVES meringue (just as is) and it was only after we stood wide-eyed in the foyer of Carluccio’s, dribbling over their enormous meringues, that I decided, ‘What the hell. I am going to have a go myself.’ (I feel I must clarify we were not literally dribbling over the meringues. Then we would have had to buy them all. And eat them. Dammit, why didn’t we actually dribble on them….)

Anyway, here is my tried and tested recipe for lovely meringues. I just make them in haphazard dollops which suits my aesthetics but feel free to pipe and swirl to your heart’s content. Or spread into a circle to make a pavlova base (which if you drop, like I did, turns into a cracking Eton Mess!). Just watch the baking time…my dollops take about 1¼ hours in my temperamental fan oven but I guess the thinner the meringue, the shorter amount of time it takes. You could always try one to see….


4 large egg whites

115g caster sugar

115g icing sugar

kitchenaid meringuePreheat your oven to 110ºC (100ºC fan) and lay out two baking trays with baking parchment on (I find parchment is the only thing that doesn’t stick).

I use a Kitchenaid to make my meringue and unless you have arms of Thor, you will need some sort of electric whisk.  I also use a metal bowl which is super clean – any grease on the whisk or bowl will cause trouble.

Whisk the four eggs whites on a medium speed until they resemble billowy cumulus clouds and stand in stiff peaks when the whisk is removed (this takes me around 5 mins with the Kitchenaid on no. 6).  Then, upping the speed, add the caster sugar a dessertspoonful at a time, waiting about 3 secs in between each spoonful.

When all the sugar is whisked in sift in one third of the icing sugar and carefully fold into the meringue using a metal spoon. Repeat with the next third, then the last. Be very careful doing this because you don;t want to lose the air in your meringue.

Using a couple of tablespoons scoop out dollops of the mixture and place on the baking parchment.  My dollops are about the size of a lemon. More than a mouthful…just.

Bake for about 1¼-1½ hours.

Sometimes I sift about 2 tbsps of cocoa powder into the finished mixture before baking and fold it through gently, giving a slight choclatey swirl. But they are delicious with or without

chocolate meringues

Christmas Pudding

nigella christmas pudding“Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people!”  That was once the reading from the Book of Common Prayer in church on this day and it has incited people to also stir up their suet and fruit!  Today is Stir-up Sunday, the last Sunday before advent when traditionally the Christmas puddings & mincemeat and now, cakes get made for Christmas.  It is a great opportunity to uphold one of the dwindling non-commercial Christmas traditions and all take a turn in stirring the mixture and make a wish.

As ever, I am sticking with Nigella’s Ultimate Christmas Pudding.  A few years ago, I splashed out and bought some sterling silver traditional charms to go into my pudding.  Health and Safety dictates that you wrap them in greaseproof paper so nobody inadvertently chokes on one.  I’ll leave that decision up to you, but I wholeheartedly ignored it. Eat at your peril!

Christmas Pudding


You will need:

150 grams currants

150 grams sultanas

150 grams prunes (cut into pieces)

175 ml  sweet sherry 

100 grams plain flour

125 grams white breadcrumbs

150 grams suet

150 grams dark muscovado sugar

1 teaspoons cinnamon sticks

¼ ground cloves

1 teaspoons baking powder

1 lemon (zest and juice)

3 medium eggs

1 medium cooking apple (peeled and grated)

2 tablespoons honey

This is for a 3 pint basin.

How to make:

  • The currants, sultanas and prunes should ideally be soaked in the sherry for a week previously, or at the least overnight.  I use the recommended Pedro Ximenes, which is a dark, treacley sherry, but any sweet sherry is ok. Put the ingredients in a bowl and cover with cling film, or I just pop it all in a Tupperware-type tub which seals tightly and can be knocked without worry.
  • Mix all the other ingredients together in a large basin and stir, stir, stir!  Stir-up a storm!  Don’t forget to make your wishes…
  • Add the soaked fruit and every drop of the sherry and combine thoroughly.  Then carefully fold in your charms if you use them.  (You can always pop them in as you serve if you prefer.  Then you know who’s got what and can keep an eye out for untimely choking).
  • Scrape all the mixture into your buttered basin(s) and press down firmly.  If you use a plastic basin, put on the lid then foil or if a normal pudding basin, take a pleated layer of greaseproof paper and foil and secure tightly to the top with string.    Put into a pan on a trivet or suchlike and add boiling water so it comes half way up the basin.  Cover and steam for 5 hours, checking fairly often to make sure the water hasn’t boiled dry.
  • When it’s done, carefully remove the pudding from the pan and pop it somewhere cool until Christmas.  At times like this I wish I had a lovely walk in larder…
  • On Christmas Day, re-wrap the pudding and steam again for 3 hours.  This year I am going to attempt the warming of some brandy, setting it alight and then pouring it over in the pudding in a flame of glory.  Yes, just writing that I raise my own eyebrows at myself. While I still have them and they haven’t gone up in a blaze of glory.

Don’t forget to stick a sprig of holly on the top too.  Merry Christmas!

Blueberry Tart

My latest bake was Blueberry Tart from Joanne Harris’ book – The French Kitchen.  Yes, she’s the one who wrote Chocolat.  And yes, to my satisfaction there was a section in the recipe book called just that.
This blueberry tart is like the ones you find in French patisseries and looks really difficult, tasted divine and is easy peasy to make – pastry and all!
I initially served it warm with some Haagen Dazs vanilla ice-cream, but then we took the dogs for a walk and scoffed the rest cold with a cup of tea (it should be cold) and I think it was even nicer.
Anyway, you know it’s good when your guests have seconds and ask for the recipe!