Working next door to a fruit and vegetable shop, it’s very difficult not to notice the changing of the seasons. Gone are the bushy bunches of leafy greens, purple sprouting broccoli and forced rhubarb of Spring. Instead the shelves are abundant with stone fruits, such as nectarines, peaches, apricots and cherries, sweet fresh peas still in their pods, and not forgetting Summer’s sweetheart, the tomato; ripe, delicious and ready to be devoured.
However, this year for me, the first moment of realisation that Summer had finally arrived was upon seeing row after crimson row of strawberries and raspberries lining the shop front before I’d even reached the door. Quite an exciting moment! As a chef, I spend a lot of time in the greengrocer’s sussing out the produce to see what is in season and what I can pick up to make that day’s soup or salads, but after a few days of eyeing up the delightfully plump berries I thought it necessary to buy some to turn into the quintessential summer dessert – the meringue roulade.
To be honest, meringue, whether it be a pavlova, roulade or atop a lemon meringue pie, works for me any time of the year, but the slightly crisp, marshmallowy foundation with a generous layer of unsweetened, vanilla scented cream is the perfect way to showcase the deliciously fragrant Summer fruit.
Mixed Berry Meringue Roulade
4 large egg whites
225g / 8oz caster sugar
a handful of flaked almonds
300ml / half pint double cream | whipped with the seeds of a vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
a punnet of strawberries & raspberries (combined weight of about 400-500g) | strawberries sliced into quarters
Preheat your oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2.
Line a 30 x 20cm / 12 x 8 inch swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
Put the egg whites and half of the sugar into a bowl and, using an electric hand whisk, whisk to snowy peaks.
Gradually add the remaining sugar, continuing to whisk for 10-15 minutes until it forms stiff peaks.
Spread the mixture into the tin, sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake for an hour.
Remove it from the oven and let it cool.
Turn the meringue out onto a fresh piece of baking parchment and carefully peel off the lining paper.
Spread over the cream, then top with the raspberries and strawberries and roll it up firmly from the long end, using the parchment paper to help you.
• Sometimes I would dust the top with a little icing sugar or pipe on some rosettes of cream, each topped with either half a strawberry or a raspberry, but that’s merely for aesthetics, so not really necessary!