Authorities generally agree that Eton Mess originated at Eton College, but the rest seems to be apocryphal:
- It might have been invented by a Labrador sitting on a picnic basket.
- The addition of meringue may have been Michael Smith's innovation
- It might be tradtionally served at the College's annual cricket game against Winchester College.
- Or it might be served at Eton's annual prize giving ceremony.
- That might be on the 4th June, or it might be on the last Wednesday in May.
- It seems pretty definitely to have have been served in the school's tuck shop
(also confusingly known as the sock shop) in the 1930s.
But whatever the true origins, it's a nice easy dessert to make, and a good thing to practice your meringues on.
This is Delia Smith's version of the dish. I like the half-puréed strawberries which give it extra smoothness.
Obviously you can use any fruit you fancy - bananas or raspberries wouldn't be unusual,
I've got a feeling the version pictured here included blackcurrants. Or were they blueberries?
- 6 oz (175 g) golden caster sugar
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 lb (450 g) fresh strawberries, hulled
- 1 rounded tablespoon unrefined icing sugar
- 1 pint (570 ml) double cream
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C).
First, have the caster sugar measured out ready, then place the egg whites in a scrupulously clean bowl
and whisk until they form soft peaks that slightly tip over when you lift the whisk.
Next, add the caster sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, and continue to whisk until each tablespoon of sugar has been thoroughly whisked in.
Now simply take rounded dessertspoonfuls of the mixture and place them in rows on the lined baking tray.
Place the baking tray in the oven on the centre shelf,
turn the heat down to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C) and leave the meringues there for 1 hour.
After that, turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven to dry out overnight, or until the oven is completely cold.
When you're ready to make the pudding, chop half the strawberries and place them in a blender together with the icing sugar.
Whiz the whole lot to a purée, then pass it through a nylon sieve to remove the seeds.
Now chop the rest of the strawberries and whip up the double cream to the floppy stage.
All the above can be done in advance, but when you are ready to serve, break up the meringues into roughly 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces,
place them in a large mixing bowl, add the chopped strawberries, then fold the cream in and around them.
After that, gently fold in all but about 2 tablespoons of the purée to give a marbled effect.
Finally, pile the whole lot into a serving dish, spoon the rest of the purée over the surface and serve as soon as possible.