For the ultimate summer pudding, you can’t go wrong with this delicious recipe taken from Gill Meller’s new book ‘Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower’
IMAGE: ANDREW MONTGOMERY
Fresh elderflower and strawberries is another lovely, quintessential companionship, but there’s only a small window in which to get these two seasonal delights together. The elderflowers will disappear long before the strawberries. Happily, while the elder’s in bloom, you can pick the flowers and bottle the essence by way of a cordial so that you can enjoy this fragrant combination throughout summer, or for as long as the strawberries last.
Strawberry, Lemon & Elderflower Meringue
- 400 ml (14 fl oz) double cream
- Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp elderflower cordial
- 300-400 g (10 1/2-14oz) ripe strawberries, hulled and slices
- 1 tbsp unrefined caster sugar
- A few elderflower heads, if available, to decorate
For the meringue
- 4 egg whites
- 200 g (7oz) unrefined caster sugar
- Heat the oven to 120°C/100°C fan/235°F/gas mark 1.
- First, make the meringue. Place the egg whites in a large, clean bowl. Whisk with a hand-held electric whisk until they form and hold soft peaks. (You can do this in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, if you prefer.) Keeping the whisk running, add 1 large spoonful of sugar at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated. Continue to whisk for a further 6–8 minutes, until the meringue is thick, pale, smooth and glossy.
- Lightly grease a sheet of baking parchment and lay it on a large (at least 30 x 30cm/12 x 12in) baking sheet. Spoon the meringue onto the parchment, trying to make a large disc with slightly peaked edges – it doesn’t have to be perfect. Bake the meringue in the oven for 25–30 minutes, then turn down the heat to 110°C/90°C fan/225°F/gas mark ½ and bake for a further 2 hours, until the meringue has formed a crisp shell. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. (If you’re not using the meringue straight away, store it in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)
- When you’re ready to serve the meringue, pour the cream into a large bowl and add half the lemon juice and half the zest and 2 tablespoons of the cordial. Whisk until the cream is thick enough to just hold soft peaks.
- Place the strawberry slices in a bowl with the remaining lemon juice and the remaining cordial. Gently turn them to coat.
- Spoon the cream onto the meringue, top with strawberries and sprinkle over the sugar. Serve with a scattering of the remaining lemon zest and some elderflower petals, if they’re in season.
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