Part 1-French Meringue

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on April 8, 2010


As we said yesterday, French meringue is only used to accomplish 2 things…lighten a batter or pipe out meringue shells/cookies that will bake in a cool oven for several hours, and then left to dry overnight in the oven after the oven is turned off.  Baked meringue shells should not take on any color when they are cooked, and if they do, the oven was too warm.  This type of meringue should never be eaten raw unless you are using a pasteurized or rehydrated product.

Growing up in Australia, meringue shells filled with whipped cream was a common dessert we ate often, but I can’t say it was my favorite. I found them so sweet (yes, I was a weird kid!) and the crumbly texture was not appealing to me. Needless to say, I am not going to make meringue shells…Instead, I will show you how to make French meringue by providing you with an awesome chiffon cake recipe that I use all the time. It is a recipe I got from a book called  The Professional Pastry Chef, by Bo Friberg. The recipe uses vegetable oil instead of butter, which is preferred in French genoise cakes. This switch serves a double duty by affording the cake a longer shelf  life along with creating a moist, pliable cake. His recipes really work, unlike recipes from other authors, and it is also a book that I used when I was teaching in a local Pastry School. I will give you the recipe as it appears in the book, but I multiplied it by 1 and a half, so that I could get a 9″ cake and a half sheet cake to make a roulade for our next post. The recipe is…

Chiffon Sponge Cake 1 (pg 440)  **makes 2-10″ pans 

2/3 cups of vegetable oil

8 egg yolks

8 egg whites

1 cup water

1 Tablespoon vanilla

14 ounces cake flour

14 ounces granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Grease and flour the two baking pans or line with parchment rounds. Separate the eggs and put the whites in a dry mixer bowl with a whip attachment along with a pinch of salt, and put the egg yolks into another large bowl. Initially the whites will look like this…

Start whipping the egg whites on med-high speed, until they start geting very frothy. In the meantime, whip the egg yolks along with the oil, water and vanilla. Sift the cake flour with the salt and baking powder and add 1/3 of the amount of sugar. Add all of this to the egg yolk mixture and whip until you have a smooth paste. By this time, your egg whites have started to get very frothy and they look like this…

At this point add half of the remaining sugar, and whip until the whites become thick and glossy…when you see that, add the rest of the sugar, whip for another minute and turn off the machine. The egg whites should look like this…soft, glossy peaks.

You have now made French meringue…Take half of the meringue and mix into the batter vigorously until the batter starts to lighten. Add in the last of the egg whites, but this time fold them in gently. The batter will look like this before putting into pans…

Once you have portioned out the batter evenly, bake at 350°F  (he suggests 375°F  but I find that is too high) for about 20-25 minutes until brown, like this…  

If you are going to make a roulade like I did, when the cake is still slightly warm to the touch, roll it up like this and let it cool completely…..

Then cover it with plastic and freeze or leave at room temperature if you plan to use the next day. He has a recipe on page 441 of the same book for chiffon roulades that are more pliable, so if you have any problems using this recipe, you can try that one. I have made this MANY times and have never had any problems. The key is to put enough batter into the pan and to not overcook it.

In my next post, I will fill the roulade and cover the whole thing with Italian meringue and flame it…so stay with me…

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