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Meringues : hlp me get my mojo back!

(12 Posts)
SenatusPopulusqueRomanorum Wed 17-Dec-14 11:43:41

I have been baking for 20 years now and meringues used to be what I did best. People I didn't know came to talk to me about my meringues grin. They were bright white, with a nice, firm crust about 3-4mm thick and a chewy inside, and they remained so for days.

Since we moved to our new house 5 years ago, I haven't been able to make a good batch of meringues. The egg whites whip up perfectly, the raw meringue has the right texture. But the meringues stay very soft in the oven. When I take them out, they firm up, but as soon as they are cold they start to draw moisture from the air and end up soft and sticky after a couple of hours.

My recipe hasn't changed (50g of sugar per large egg white, 100°C oven).

What has changed :
- I have moved places so perhaps the climate is slightly different? (but my meringues get sticky even on very dry summer days)
- I got a Kitchenaid stand mixer (I used to make them with a hand mixer)
- I got a new oven.

Are there any meringue experts around? I miss my lovely meringues. sad

TheSpottedZebra Wed 17-Dec-14 11:57:12

Have you an oven thermometer? Do you know if your oven is running true to temperature? I'd normally cook my meringues at a higher temp, but I know that everyone seems to have a different way of doing it.

I find that the humidity MASSIVELY impacts on outcome.
Are you sure that you're whipping all the sugar in? Could you be over whipping the mixture with your KA?

SenatusPopulusqueRomanorum Wed 17-Dec-14 12:06:22

The sugar is all whipped in (I check with my fingers that it has dissolved).
It is possible to overbeat egg whites with a KA, but I don't go above speed 6 or 7 and the whites don't get hard and grainy the way they do when they are overwhipped.

I have tried higher temperatures (the meringues get slightly golden which means the oven is too hot) and longer times at lower temperatures (they still get sticky).

I have tried adding the sugar in one go or a little at a time.

I am starting to think that I am cursed!

TheSpottedZebra Wed 17-Dec-14 12:09:53

Not cursed!

You've not suddenly got your own chickens have you, and are now using super-fresh eggs? Meringues are better with older eggs, aren't they?

SenatusPopulusqueRomanorum Wed 17-Dec-14 12:17:40

I wish I had my own chickens, but no.
The last (failed) batch I made was yesterday, with egg whites that had stayed in the fridge for 4 days after being separated. The eggs had been hatched on Dec. 3rd.

fatherpeeweestairmaster Fri 19-Dec-14 19:22:32

I feel your pain on this - I used to be famous for my perfect meringues, but of late, they've been rather variable too. Possible suspects for me include:

not all sugar seems to be the same - have you changed caster sugar brands?

my oven was running hot - I checked using a oven thermometer and now preheat and check before anything goes in

I replaced my old Kitchenaid with a K-Mix, and I'm not 100% convinced it whips the entire mixture properly; I think there's a clearance at the bottom that remains a bit sludgy, despite my best efforts to adjust the whisk height.

Otherwise, sympathy from me!

CatsClaus Fri 19-Dec-14 19:31:28

how about doing it all by hand?... I make mine that way....giant bowl, giant whisk, it really is not that hard work ...I also whisk all the sugar in, a tablespoon at a time, so there is no folding in of the last bit.

i do covet some sort of mixer but I know I probably would not make good use of it as I like to "feel" textures and the weight of the mix

so I'd blame the oven in your case.....anything else giving you problems??

oooh....or do you line the tray?? I have found recently that greaseproof paper is a right bugger, sticking to sponges, and they seem to take ages to cook, or sticking to trays, and have gone completely over to baking paper which seems much better.

have you changes trays? a less heavy one maybe not holding the heat??

it's soooo annoying when this nonsense goes on.!

FrancesNiadova Mon 22-Dec-14 23:57:41

Have you changed egg supplier?
I have my own hens & meringues & pavlovas are great, but on the odd occasion that I've used shop eggs they've been heavy.

TheGirlOnTheLanding Tue 23-Dec-14 08:31:34

Have you tried leaving them in the cooling oven longer? I use Delia's recipe, and do as she suggests - start the oven temperature slightly higher, turn it down as soon as they go in, then switch it off after the baking time has finished but don't take them out till the next morning, so they've cooled as gradually as the oven cools. Worth a try?

SenatusPopulusqueRomanorum Tue 23-Dec-14 20:12:19

Thank you for your messages.

In the name of science, I tried again with a batch of 6 leftover egg whites. I ditched the Kitchenaid and went back to my good old hand mixer.

The meringues were much better - not as perfect as they used to be, but definitely not sticky. They had their nice, thick crust and chewy inside that improved after a couple of days. And the last meringues I made (ie from the bottom of the mixing bowl) were the best.

So the Kitchenaid is to blame (mostly). The egg whites whisked with the hand mixer were whipped as firmly as in the Kitchenaid, but since the movement is not the same (the whisks are much smaller) I guess there must be a difference in the structure of the meringue (such as the air bubbles being smaller).

OttiliaVonBCup Tue 23-Dec-14 20:21:25

Interesting you say this.
I make this lovely cake and a few weeks ago I made it with a hand whisk and it was the best ever.
I use the my KA usually but last time it wasn't quite so good.

CalicoBlue Sun 04-Jan-15 16:32:57

I use a Kmix for mine. I warm the sugar in the oven for a few minutes too.

I also keep the oven door ajar to stop the oven getting too hot.

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