Eton mess was served in the 1930s for the first time at Eton – either in the school’s dining room or the tuck shop. I have never managed to get a straight story. Apparently the first version was made with either strawberries or bananas that were folded into either ice cream or cream. Meringue was a later addition. Nowadays, Eton mess is made with meringue, lightly whipped cream and strawberries – all folded together into a mess – but oh what a glorious mess.
The only tricky bit could be getting the cream right and the combination should not be soggy. The meringue can be bought at a baker and there’s no need to make it yourself – so Rijk, this one’s for you.
500 g strawberries, cleaned and halved (you can use the frozen kind as well in an emergency)
3 egg whites
175 g superfine castor sugar
1 heaped tablespoon icing sugar
600 ml whipping cream, lightly whipped – yet firm
Preheat oven to 150 C and grease and line a baking tray with baking paper. I use two layers – but for no particular reason
Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add the sugar and continue to whisk until all the sugar is used.
Simply spread the meringue mixture on the prepared tray, about 1 cm thick and bake for 40 minutes.
Turn the oven off and allow to dry for about an hour.
Now place half the strawberries and the icing sugar in your food processor or blender and blend until you get a smooth puree.
If the strawberries are frozen, defrost and do exactly the same.
You could strain the mixture to remove the strawberry pips, but I never do – it’s far too fussy and if you can’t eat a strawberry, maybe you should give this a miss since the meringue will not be that smooth either.
Break the meringue into small mini bite sized bits.
Put the strawberries and the meringue in a large mixing bowl.
Fold in the whipped cream.
Now drizzle in a little puree to give a marbled effect – never overdo this.
Divide into individual glass serving bowls and spoon in carefully.
Drizzle with remaining puree.
I have done this with all kinds of suitable fruit and it’s always a hit – passionfruit being my own personal favourite.