Since the messy, beautiful inception of Wake & Bake with Spiderweb Salon, I’ve had many a friend and stranger approach me with the most delightful fire. Sweet cheers about the experiments we’ve shared and even tales of their own baking adventures simply because of what we’re doing here. On the other side of the coin, I’ve also had people come to me and say, “Storie, it looks so fun, but I could never do that!!” or “I love to cook, but I’m shit at baking.” While I am absolutely tickled and overjoyed that we’ve elicited any sort of emotional response from any of our readers, I am here to tell you that with just TWO ingredients, you too, can conjure up the intoxicating magic of *insert dramatic drumroll sounds* meringue. Buckle up, babes.
We were joined in this thrilling journey by the calming presence of Spiderweb buddies Maureen Leak, Nina Chantanapumma (she had to leave before we could taste anything, but courtney marie made a special delivery!), and the lovely Sarah Friday! Maureen is a culinary hero to be reckoned with in her own right; she helped run the wonderful Dorothy's Kitchen, Denton's only pay-what-you-can, locally-sourced, community-fueled restaurant (sadly no longer operating), and these days you can find her serving up some health-conscious treats at Juice Lab (probably one of the most underrated eateries in town, TBH)! Because she is absoultely amazing, Maureen showed up cradling a giant jar of her homemade kombucha to share with us and lovingly took her post, ready to converse and collaborate. We adore having visitors come on these explorations with us. The creative energy and excitement the ignites between all the bakers, poets, and musicians in the kitchen on these mornings is one of the most enigmatic (and contagious) things ever!
My typical reaction when talking about meringue is to wax poetic about all the different varieties and where each style originated, but today’s recipe is beautiful in it’s simplicity, so we’ll just break down the basics of what it is and how we utilized it for this wildy light + crispy Pavlova. Meringue is traditionally made by whipping egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form. For an extra boost, modern bakers will also add a dash of an acidic component such as vinegar or lemon juice to really help stiffen things up. Once those glossy, white crests appear, the possibilities are endless and completely up to you.
The dessert we made with our meringue is known as Pavlova. While there are still heated debates about its origin between Australia and New Zealand, all you need to know is that it’s a delicate, crunchy-on-the-outside, melt-in-your-mouth, impossibly light confection, usually topped with fresh whipped cream and whichever jams, fruit toppings, etc. you desire. I cannot stress enough just how insanely delicious and perfect Pavlova is for summer.
We made a big batch of individual vanilla meringues and then concocted one massive chocolate meringue which we topped with a freshly made mango curd so tasty, our eyes rolled back in our heads as soon as it hit our lips. With our assembly line of fresh berries, whipped cream, local jams, and mango curd *insert lovesick sighs* it was like something out of a sugar coated fairy tale. But I have to say...what was even sweeter than the chewy, melty, spellbinding magic of the meringue, was how our friend’s eyes lit up when learning just how easy it was to invoke that kind of alchemy from such simple elements. To me, that’s one of the most beautifully profound things about being an at-home baker--and it makes our hearts swell to think about how we might inspire anyone to experience the same.
On the vanilla meringues, we upped the temp a little to 225F and cooked for about 80 min. Remember the key is slow and low, which is great for a baked treat on a summer day (we weren't keen on making the whole kitchen 400 degrees when it was already nearly 100 outside!)
Tasty Topping Thoughts:
Fresh whipped cream
Fruit curd, such as mango, or lemon
Fruit sauce or compote
written by Storie Cunningham, edited by courtney marie