Sunday, 12 May 2013

Rhubarb Eton Mess

Everything I've learnt about boarding schools were from the well thumbed pages of Enid Blyton's 'Mallory Towers' and 'St Clare's'.

'Prep'...'lacrosse'...'tuck'... these exotic words meant very little. Our school dinner puddings would involve, largely, semolina. Or on a special occasion, Jam Roly Poly with that peculiar school-dinner-issue thick custard that always left a trail of custard-skin on the spoon. Custard-skin that would be carefully, with almost surgical precision, be extracted and discarded.

It seemed pupils at boarding schools had way nicer puds. Take Eton for example. They've an entire, classic, delicious, summery dessert named after the College. Traditionally served at the annual cricket match against Harrow School, Eton Mess is a marvellous mix of strawberries, meringue and cream. Not a semolina rice in sight.

Nigella adds pomegranate juice to her version. Heston makes his with bananas. Me? I've made a roasted rhubarb Eton Mess. Lovely.

Roasted Rhubarb Eton Mess

(six individual servings)

For the meringue:

4 large egg whites
115g caster sugar
115g icing sugar, sifted

For the roasted rhubarb:

550-600g rhubarb, washed, trimmed and roughly cut into 1 inch pieces
85g golden caster sugar

To serve:

250ml double cream
A sprig or two of mint

1. Firstly make the meringue: preheat the oven to 110C/ 100C fan/Gas Mark 1⁄4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Beat the egg whites on a medium speed until the egg whites become cloud-like and foamy and the stiff peak stage is reached. Turn up the mixer speed and gradually add the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, beating between each addition. The mixture will be thick and glossy when all the caster sugar has been added. 

3. Fold in the icing sugar, a third at a time. The mixture should be smooth with a satin sheen

4. Gently spoon the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hr 15 minutes to 1 hr 45 minutes until the meringues are coffee coloured and they sound crisp when tapped underneath.  Turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside, undisturbed, until the oven is completely cold. Set the meringue aside.
5. To roast the rhubarb: Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the trimmed rhubarb in an ovenproof dish and evenly sprinkle over the golden caster sugar. Cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes, checking half way through and giving the dish a gentle shake to distribute the sugar. The rhubarb should be soft but still retain their shape
6. To assemble: Whip the cream in a large bowl. Crush the meringue into small pieces and mix in with the cream. Divide the cooled roasted rhubarb between the serving glasses and spoon over the meringue. Decorate with the mint

Bakers notes...
  • There are three great things about Eton Mess. Firstly, it's delicious. Secondly, it's ever so easy to make. And thirdly, there's no worrying about fancy presentation. Pop it in a nice glass and decorate with a sprig of mint.
  • To make the perfect meringues: make sure all equipment is scrupulously clean, ensure the eggs are fresh and the oven temperature is low- an oven thermometer is a worthwhile investment for dodgy ovens. They can be stored in an airtight tin for up to two weeks. The meringue recipe above is based upon Good Food Magazine's Ultimate Meringue recipe. Felicity Cloake, in her brilliant 'Perfect..' series explores lots of different meringue recipes right here


  1. Haha, I too got carried away by the food stories of boarding school antics from Enyd Blyton. How disappointed was I to find when I actually went to boarding school that the food was just as horrid as it had been at primary school - thick custard and lumpy semolina. If only we could have had some of your rhubarb Eton mess which sounds super delicious.

  2. I used to love Mallory Towers!

    Eton mess is always lovely - and your pretty presentation makes it even nicer!

  3. Wowo looks delicious. I love rhubarb and need to cook with it more!

  4. Another Mallory Towers fan here and The Naughtiest Girl in the school! Love your take on Eton Mess, I've pinned it on the Rhubarb Board, I become slightly obsessed with rhubarb at this time of year.

  5. I just made the same exact dessert just last week!! I added fresh strawberries though and made the meringues quite small, which only took 15 minutes to cook, so made it much quicker to whip up after dinner. So delicious, the rhubarb is great in this isn't it! Yummy!xx
    meg-made Pavlova in a Glass

  6. I was a school dinner cook back in the 80s and I always tried very hard to beat out any lumps as I hated school dinners when I was a child. There was never eton mess in sight when I was cooking either! This is just the perfect combination of tartiness and sweetness. One of my favourites.

  7. Hi Kate, I discovered your blog via the ´World Baking Day´site. This recipe looks extremely interesting.. since we dont have much rhubarbs here in Spain I hardly ever cook with it but it´s something I´ve always wanted to try to cook with..

    Greetings,you´ve secured a new follower!


    ps. Would like to invite you to visit my Blog at:

  8. Hooray for rhubarb! I love this time of year and although strawberries are a huge favourite of mine, I love the idea of using rhubarb too :-)

  9. Perfect, I need lots of rhubarb ideas as i have a mountain growing at the allotment. This looks like a good way to start and I have decided to make some rhubarb vodka too! I also love the sundae glasses you have used :))

  10. Lovely! I've never made meringue though, so I'm very impressed - I buy mine...

  11. i love rhubarb, and i'm cursed with an under-performing rhubarb plant! great idea. yum!


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