Bake: Roll up for meringue roulade
A party favourite, who doesn’t like a crunchy crusted, marshmallow-centred meringue dessert filled with fresh fruit and whipped cream?
It’s party season and you might be inviting friends or family around over the coming weeks. Finding the time to plan a menu can be a chore if you have lots of other jobs to do and it’s a battle in your head between wanting to try some new dessert or convenience winning over.
When stuck for ideas, I often fall back on a recipe that is always a hit at parties – meringue roulade. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like a crunchy crusted, marshmallow-centred meringue dessert filled with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Although perceived as a little tricky, once perfected, pavlovas and meringue roulades usually become much-loved stalwarts in a keen cook’s repertoire. The rolling up part of a roulade intimidates novice bakers but it’s a doddle after your first one. Apart from the obvious taste and good looks, a roulade is quick to make.
It can be prepared a few hours in advance and even frozen if you substitute 200g good-quality lemon curd as the filling (in place of filling with fresh cream and berries, neither of which freeze well) and serve drizzled with coulis and fresh berries on the side. The basic meringue mixture requires only two main ingredients: egg whites and sugar. Fillings and garnishes can easily be varied with the seasons or adjusted to whatever fruit you can secure in the shop. Best of all, it’s super easy to slice, garnish and serve to large groups.
Meringue roulade with mixed berry coulis
- 4 large egg whites
- 225g caster sugar
- Small pinch salt
Mixed berry coulis
- 250g frozen mixed berries, thawed
- 50g caster sugar
- 50ml water
- Lemon juice, to taste
- 250g fresh berries (eg blackberries, blueberries, strawberries)
- 250ml cream, whipped
- Mint leaves, to garnish
- Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat oven to 170°C fan. Grease and line a 30 x 20cm baking tin with baking parchment (cut the paper higher than the sides of the tin – so the meringue doesn’t catch when it rises).
Put the egg whites and salt into a large mixing bowl and use an electric whisk to whisk to soft peaks.
Gradually add the sugar in spoonfuls, continuing to whisk on a high speed for at least six minutes, until the mixture is glossy and forms stiff peaks.
Using a spatula, spread the mixture into the lined tin and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160°C and bake for another five minutes) until the surface is lightly golden and firm (don’t overcook or it will crack). Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
For the mixed berry coulis, make a sugar syrup by placing the sugar and water into a small pan over a medium heat until dissolved, bring to the boil and simmer without stirring for two minutes until syrupy. Pour the sugar syrup over the berries in a bowl and blitz with a handheld soup blender to a purée (pass through a sieve to remove seeds). Add a squeeze of lemon juice if too sweet.
To assemble, place a sheet of baking paper wider than the roulade onto a flat surface and dust with icing sugar. Invert the baked meringue on to the dusted sheet, remove the tin and carefully peel back the lining paper. Spread whipped cream over the surface of the roulade and scatter most of the berries over (reserve some for decoration). With the long edge in front of you, roll the roulade upwards and away from you using the paper to help roll over like a swiss roll. Dust with icing sugar and decorate prettily with berries, and keep chilled.
Serve sliced with the coulis.
Variation: Once you can make and roll a basic roulade, vary the flavours of the meringue mixture by folding in ground almonds, pistachios, cocoa powder or even cinnamon. Fresh kiwis, mango, passion fruit pulp, pomegranates and redcurrants add exotic tastes and vibrant colour.