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How to make the perfect meringue

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Lorraine Pascale Lorraine Pascale | 17:30 UK time, Friday, 7 January 2011

Many a passionate cook has written to me with stories of meringue woe, most commonly: “I whisked the eggs and sugar to within a very inch of their lives and after a good twenty minutes the meringues looked like old bubbles disappearing on the surface of a bath. Lorraine, what have I done wrong?”

There a few simple tricks to ensure you achieve a meringue so shiny and stiff, you will want to stick it on the shelf and frame it. From the Guardian, to Delia, to Rick Stein to BBC Good Food, there are some great tips out there, but this is my take on the mystery of meringue...

Always start with a large bowl - a well-whipped egg white can increase eight fold with the correct amount of whisking. Pop in four medium egg whites, or if you are using the pasteurised version which comes from supermarkets in a carton, add 150ml/5fl oz of this genius stuff. (Do bear in mind though that pasteurised egg whites will never increase so much in volume as our fresh friends.) Add the tinniest of lemon squeezes; a couple of droplets is all it needs. This will stop the egg whites from being over whisked.

Meringue mixture on a whisk

A "stiff peak"

Next begin whisking the eggs. Now the brave amongst you will be doing this with a balloon whisk. While I do use the balloon whisk for many different things, whisking up egg white is not one of them. An electric whisk makes this job so much easier and a lot more fun. The whites will turn from a yellowy tinged transparent mixture to an opaque grey fluffy one. Keep whisking as the eggs begin to increase to twice their volume. This is called the soft peak stage. Stick a whisk in, get a bit of white on the end and then turn the whisk, upside down. The mixture will just flop off at best. Now take 220g/8oz of caster sugar and add about one-third of it to the mixture.

Whisk the mixture and watch the magic begin to happen... it will begin to double in size again. Keep whisking until the whites go a shiny brighter white. Stick the whisk(s) in again and then turn one upside down. The little bit on the end should be stiffer, but still a little floppy. Add another third of the sugar and whisk the egg whites again, and then repeat with the remaining sugar. The trick is to whisk up the egg whites and sugar well every time between each addition. If your mixture looks runny after you have added the first lot of sugar and whisked it up, don’t add any more sugar until the mixture begins to firm up.

You will know when you have a stiff peak when you can hold the bowl right over your head and the mixture stays in. Or, a less risky way of testing is, as you have done before, whisk in the mixture then  turn it upside down. The peak should be stiff shiny and really, really white, like a silky vinyl white emulsion paint.

Watch the neighbours' curtains twitching enviously as you parade your stiff shiny meringue peak proudly around your kitchen! So now all you need to do is decide how to serve them. What’s your favourite meringue recipe? Are you a lover of lemon meringue pie, fruity pavlova or never-out-of-fashion Eton mess? And do you have any good tips for making meringue?

Lorraine Pascale is the presenter of the new BBC Two series Baking Made Easy.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Great show this evening! Please can you tell me what the shop was you visited for your bakers dozen top tools section of tonights "Baking made easy". It looks like the perfect shop for all my baking needs which I have yet to find in London!

  • Comment number 2.

    Please could you let us know what the shgop was that you visaiting for the baking equipment section? Does it have a website and delvier all over the uk?

  • Comment number 3.

    Congratulations on the first programme. It was brilliant, my daughter and I really enjoyed it and can't wait to try out some of the recipes. We wish you every success you certainly deserve it

  • Comment number 4.

    Great first programme!
    Please can you tell us the name of the kitchen shop you visited?

  • Comment number 5.

    Watched your show last night and really enjoyed how easy you made everything look. Could you please let me know the name of the shop that you used to purchase your kitchen items, it looks amazing.

  • Comment number 6.

    I really really enjoyed your programme and and very much looking forward to the next one. Everything you showed was simple with stunning results. I loved the look of the chocolate cake and the end bit with you all eating the results of your labour. Now on to find a large whisk like the one you recommended.

  • Comment number 7.


    Glad to hear you are all enjoying the programme. Next week Lorraine makes cookie and cream fudge brownies (how good do these sound?) and then makes a 'skinny tart' (probably to offset all that chocolate).

    You can buy Lorraine's 'bakers dozen' from any good kitchen equipment shop or online but the one she visited in the programme is called Hansens and is based in South West London.

    Here is a link to all the recipe featured last night...
    ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/food/programmes/b00xk0dm.

  • Comment number 8.

    the baking made easy programe was super, i would love to know where the cooking utentials shop is,they are my favorite shops, could spend ages browsing.

  • Comment number 9.

    loved the show and has got me eager to get started :)

  • Comment number 10.

    Absolutely loved the show last night and wondered if Lorraine ran any cookery courses or one day events. If so I will book in straight away!!!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Loved the programme ...and your kitchen! Want to paint my kitchen cupboard doors the same as yours- what colour are they painted? Thanks xxxx

  • Comment number 12.

    I've been searching for the chocolate cigarellos to make the yummy looking cake. I've done a general internet search and 80 of them are going to cost £14.95. This makes this a very expensive cake to make! Do you have any suggestions of where I could source them a little cheaper?

  • Comment number 13.

    I too really enjoyed the show and all the recipes. Lorraine makes it all look so easy with her relaxed style! Am looking forward to trying the recipes, and the rest of the series. Thankyou Lorraine.

  • Comment number 14.

    My daughter (who is the current baker in the family!) and myself absolutely loved the show. Thank you Lorraine for making baking so easy and such fun. Do you run any cookery courses? Shall be watching avidly for your next show. Congratulations to all concerned. Thanks to BBC for the name of the kitchen shop - shall be visiting forthwith this weekend. what colour are the kitchen doors, please - ours a very tired, dated browny hideous!!

  • Comment number 15.

    I love meringue! Reminds me so much of childhood, growing up in Australia. I found a great recipe for meringue here http://www.waitrose.com/recipe/Meringue.aspx

  • Comment number 16.

    I just love the new programs and the chef is excellent. So easy to follow and in clear concise English, well done Lorraine. I have lived abroad for many years and seen lots of cookery programs and this one is one of the best so far. Keep it up BBC!

  • Comment number 17.

    What a great series! I have watched it twice on iPlayer. Now I am a relatively experienced baker and have already learnt 5 tips from Lorraine. I will definitely need to watch this with notebook in hand in case there are any more. I love the fact that she demystifies baking to encourage newcomers, but still observing the rules. Judging by the way my husband lingered (whilst about to leave for work) when she was demonstrating the mille feuille, this is a must-do for Valentines Day. Good job I already have some large heart shaped cookie cutters!

  • Comment number 18.

    @Bakingmad85, @Craig Jackson, @chefat42, @hinan and @hazelbowyer: The shop was called Hansens.

    @bakingfairy: Thank you. Really glad you liked watching it and with your daughter too.

    @hhannan1: Do post your pics on Twitter if you use it. My followers love to see what people have cooked.

    @JoannaSC: No cookery courses yet, but possibly in the future.

    @Edna: We shot the show in a rented kitchen in Barnes - alas my kitchen was too small! I am not sure where the cupboards were from.

    @aims3: You could use chocolate fingers for something a little different and they would be much cheaper and still look good.

    @sparklet76: Really glad you liked the show and that your daughter bakes. We do not run any courses at this time. The kitchen we shot in was a rented one and we are not sure what the kitchen cupboard doors were painted - they did look so lovely though!

    @James Addison: Thanks for the link!

    @Constance, @Meryl, @woody and @StrictlySalsaClare: Thank you for your feedback. We are all really glad you liked the show!

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi,
    Can you please list the Top Bakers 13 items here? I can't remember them all! and remember thinking i should get some of them... but can't remember - thanks in anticipation!

  • Comment number 20.

    Here is Lorraine's baker's dozen:

    Baking tins
    Long rolling pin
    Bendy spatula
    Pastry brush
    Palette knife
    Piping bags with nozzles
    Set of round cutters
    Electronic scales
    Baking trays
    A couple of good knives
    A big whisk
    Different sized bowls
    Chopping board

    Also baking expert Mary Berry was on the BBC Food blog back in September sharing the utensils she considers essential for cake making:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/food/2010/09/what-utensils-and-equipment-ar.shtml

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi
    I am a 47 year old man who was brought up to believe that baking was 'mysterious' and complicated and best left to the ladies. I have never baked anything in my life, ever!
    However, after watching your programme (1) I feel inspired to have a go. I cant believe how easy you made it all seem. I am going to start with the lolipops and then do the bread. I have ordered some kit to get me started. I suppose the fact that you are a beautiful and articulate lady also helped!! Thanks again.

  • Comment number 22.

    Thanx Lorraine for a very helpful,refreshing & enjoyable programme, am totally hooked. Likewise,would be v interested in doing a course / workshop with you. Lots of interest re this. Also from Oxford,so v proud to claim you as another local celeb.Best of luck for the future (*_*) x

  • Comment number 23.

    Ahead of tonight's programme, here are the recipes. Loving the sound of the Camembert and roasted garlic and the Cookies and cream fudge brownies: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/programmes/b00xxcsb

  • Comment number 24.

    What's with the BBC and showing cooking programmes by overly chirpy and insincere models? First there was Sophie Dahl and now there is Lorraine Pascale. Both of them are annoying and their food/receipes are uninspiring!

    And are we really supposed to believe they eat this type of food and maintain those figures!? Please, give us some real cooks, I don't need a TV programme to watch an amateur!

  • Comment number 25.

    Totally agree with Babsvg's comment. This show was awful. And it did remind me of the pointless one Sophie Dahl did awhile ago. The recipes were like ones I was taught as a child and the presenter had all the personality of a rice cake. Wont be watching that again. Was disappointing after watching more interesting cakes etc being cooked on the Hairy Bikers Mum's know best and also the British baking series that was on last year. Ah well, each to their own I guess!

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    Thought the show was brilliant, and the tips were really useful! As a 16 year old who really wants to get into baking I thought this show was extremely helpful and easy to understand. All my family watch it and love it. Will it be out on DVD soon?
    x

  • Comment number 28.

    On tonight's show Lorraine shows off her meringue-making skills with this autumnal pavlova:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/spiced_blackberry_pear_14830

  • Comment number 29.

    No disrespect to Lorraine but she needs to develop her own style rather than copy Nigella. Those sideways looks at the camera and sensual comments are Nigella's trademark. Even the camera work is the same. The out of focus shots and not weighing anything is all hers. The editing is not good either. The swiss roll she was making definately not the same one when it was finished as it was when she had rolled it up. Even the guests at the end are a Nigella. Oh dear not good

  • Comment number 30.

    Loving this show, Lorraine is a great presenter who actually looks like she has been working in a kitchen and not a studio, naturally beautiful not caked in make-up like others(excuse the punn)she makes everything look so easy and yummy, can't wait to try out the receipes.

  • Comment number 31.

    Plea to Lorraine and all tv chefs...
    Could you indicate whether you're using a fan or conventional oven for recipes. I've in the process of making the pavlova - the meringue has just gone in the oven - looks great! Is it 140°C fan oven or conventional oven? Because if it is conventional oven, I'd reduce the fan oven temperature by 10°C. For a casserole, this wouldn't matter. For a meringue, it might.

    Of course, it's possible that there's some rule of the universe that temperatures given are always for one or the other... but if this rule exists, no one has told me. :-D

    Good program and some lovely recipes. Thanks Lorraine.

  • Comment number 32.

    Lorraine,
    I have moved rank in the home kitchen from laughing stock to maestro!

    My achillies heel has been my inability to make a Meringue. I read up on it across many recipes and chefs. Most attempt resulted in a sloppy goo 3mm thick, or collapsing or running or burning or sticking. How do you fold sugar anyway? It one notable episode I got through 60 eggs over 3 weeks of attempts, it became my Everest, my nemesis! None resulted in a Meringue until a chance encounter with your programme.

    Thank you for increasing my self esteem, I can walk tall in the kitchen, I can make a meringue!

    As you can tell, I am already a huge fan, but I can't tell anyone else about you as this may take the luster off my achievement!

  • Comment number 33.

    All °C oven temperatures given on the BBC Food website are for non-fan ovens. As a guide, you should take away 20°C for a fan oven (eg moderate 160°C oven becomes 140°C for a fan oven).

  • Comment number 34.

    Thanks Ramona, that's very useful. I wonder if it's worth you mentioning the fact over on the messageboard as there are probably plenty of other people who don't know that - or if they did, have forgotten.

    The meringue was very successful... the best meringue I've ever produced. I'll definitely follow Lorraine's method again.

  • Comment number 35.

    Meringues are very forgiving - unless they are cooked too hot! Ovens vary substantially and the temperatures given in my book were tested in a non-fan oven. The oven's booklet will usually say what temperature to reduce it by if using a fan oven, to match the same temperature of a conventional oven - usually 10-20 degrees will do the trick. Funnily enough a fan oven is a bonus with meringues as it helps to dry them out more quickly. If at any point the meringue begins to 'weep' or bleed, it may mean that the oven is too hot. Just keep an eye on it, checking every 20 minutes or so.

  • Comment number 36.

    Lorraine,
    this is just a bit of fan mail to say I absolutely loved your show. Of all the tv chefs, you are so lovely and modest - not a show off in any way - elegant and stylish - you're a wonderful role model for young gals around the country, and I just felt inspired to write to you while watching last night to say keep up the great work, and I hope you do many more shows. xox

  • Comment number 37.

    Thanks Lorraine. I did keep a careful eye on the meringue - which I did cook on the fan setting as I always think of it as a "drier" heat - and it was ready after about an hour and 5 / 10 minutes.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi,
    My neighbour wants to make Lorraine's shortbread and asked me about Rice Flour. She cannot find this and as I sometimes use Ground Rice in shortbread to give it texture I was wondering whether Ground Rice and Rice Flour are the same thing?

  • Comment number 39.

    Lorraine, when doing your pieces to the camera whilst driving, you really ought to stay in control of your car. Three or four times in tonight's programme, you had neither hand on the steering wheel while you were driving in a built up area! If it's me you hit, can you bring me some of your cake to the hospital please? :-P

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    does anyone know the background music playing whilst lorraine was making the honeycomb(14-15 mins into tonights show feb 7).like the style of the show especially the backgroung music

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi, I kept trying to see the make of the mixer, but being the BBC, it was carefully kept out of shot. If it's not seen as advertising can you turn it round to face the camera next time! Or, alternatively, could post it on here .

  • Comment number 43.

    @Vicky S, I believe the mixer was a Kitchen Aid, they come in some fab bright colours too!

    @Lorraine Pascal, as an avid baker myself, I absolutely love your show - fabulous recipes and idea's and I can now make a fabulous meringue! Thank you! In last nights show you went to a cake decorating shop, please could you let us know which shop you visited or was it Hansens?

    Thank you for a great show!
    All the best,
    Sam

  • Comment number 44.

    Anyone at all,
    Please answer some of these questions. There is a thread on Food Q&A main board at the moment (link below) where an apparent discrepancy on the Fougasse bread recipe last night is being discussed. The printed recipe says 2 sachets of yeast but most seem convinced that you said, and were seen to add, one sachet. Something wrong somewhere and definitely not Baking Made Easy.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbfood/NF2670471?thread=8054648

  • Comment number 45.

    @daveworksop: The music used in the honeycomb item was Owl City: Fireflies.

    I’ll try and get an answer to your other questions as soon as possible.

  • Comment number 46.

    hi Lorraine love your programme i recently saw that you had a tip to keep your sponge cakes moist
    by brushing what i think was sugared water is this correct ?

  • Comment number 47.

    Now the 12 February but we are still waiting for answers Ramona?????

  • Comment number 48.

    I've checked with Lorraine and she tells me two teaspoons of yeast is fine, as is a standard sachet of yeast (#44) She also points out that ground rice and rice flour are different (#38), and says Kooks is the name of the shop in Richmond for cakes (#43).

  • Comment number 49.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this evenings show. Does anyone know the make of the food processor that Lorraine was using?

  • Comment number 50.

    Hugely enjoyed the whole series. A presenter with the technique, the knowledge, the charm and a good clear communication style. Oh and the programme was put together with a witty take on every other telly cook, whether professional or strictly domestic. Fab.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hi could you tell me how far in advance can your 3tier celebration cake be made?

  • Comment number 52.

    I would have thought that it's not a very good idea to stick a pin directly into a cake!

    Also, with regard to the 3 tiered cake, the sponge at the end was totally different to the one that came out of the oven.

  • Comment number 53.

    #46 - Put 100g of water and 100g of sugar in to a pan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved then boil it for one minute. Allow it to cool a little before brushing on the cakes.

    #49 - KitchenAid.

    #51 - If you leave out the cream cheese in the cake and just use buttercream (icing sugar and butter), then the cake will keep for 2-4 days. The cream cheese only keeps for a day or so out of the fridge.

  • Comment number 54.

    And here's a recipe for basic buttercream:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/basicbuttericing_73263

  • Comment number 55.

    I was not sure about yet another cooking show, but your show was fantastic! Congratulations on such a successful show - you've got a fan in Chicago.

    I loved the recipes, setting, music, clips of Paris, fun nature, and style.

    Lorraine, your show is a success!

    I know people have asked about the tools etc (btw, I just spent last night looking for good quality sea salt after watching the bread sticks episode), but I would like to know where you got the white oxford-style shirt you wore in episode 2 when making philo pastry. Sorry, I don't mean to sound like a stalker, but I love the simplicity and elegance of that shirt.

    Congrats again on such a successful series!

  • Comment number 56.

    Does anyone have a song list per episode?

    Music was great.

  • Comment number 57.

    This is the shirt I was talking about.
    Please help - I want that shirt.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/programmes/b00ysfpb

  • Comment number 58.

    I loved Lorraine's first show and was delighted to see she's got a new show - will rush out and buy the book!
    Please can you tell me which food mixer/model Lorraine uses on the show.
    Also love the songs used in the background - very upbeat and great for cooking along to!

 

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