Eton Mess: Recipe for the Quintessentially English Pudding

Eton mess is a quintessentially English summer pudding. It sums up lazy cricket matches, roses in full bloom and the sharp tang of rhubarb on the tip of your tongue.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour for the meringue

Serves: 6

Ingredients

For the meringue:

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 340g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Toasted almond flakes, to serve (optional)

For the mess:

  • 125ml boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 450g rhubarb, chopped into rounds
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • 500ml double cream

Recipe method

1. First, make the meringues. Preheat the oven to 140C/120C fan. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. In a very clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they reach firm peaks. Gradually mix in the sugar and salt and whisk well until the mixture is a thick spool of white. This should take about 8 minutes and obviously an electric mixer would be a little bit of a blessing here.

2. Spoon the mixture into blobs on your baking tray, leaving a generous gap between them. Bake for 1 hour.

3. While the meringue is baking, make the rhubarb compote. In a pan, boil the water with the sugar and add the rhubarb when it starts bubbling. Stir and let it cook for about 5 minutes. When the rhubarb is tender, remove from the heat. Add the rosewater and leave to the side.

4. Now for the mess bit. You can either do this in 6 pretty glasses or one big bowl. Whip the cream until soft and fluffy. Add to it the rhubarb and mash it in with the meringues. You can do this with some order in layers, or in a happy haphazard fashion; either way it’s totally delicious. Serve with some toasted almond flakes if you like.