Scary this bake is not, despite its size. It just requires a lot of whipping. And some chopping, if you like, but you could always use some blueberries and squirty cream on top if you’re prone to extreme laziness. In this case, I have chosen strawberries because I got a particularly good (and large and cheap) batch of strawberries from a local supermarket. Whatever fruit you choose shouldn’t be set in stone – check what’s best at this time of year and avoid any British fruits shipped over from the southern hemisphere.
First, preheat your oven to 140C/120C fan/Gas 1. Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper (non-stick greaseproof paper).
Into a large, clean and dry bowl, place your egg whites. Glass, stainless steel or ceramic bowls are best. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until they are light and stiff – at least 5 minutes.
Add your sugar to your egg whites, still whisking on maximum, a teaspoon at a time. This will take a while, but you’ll have the best meringue at the end of it. Once the sugar is incorporated, keep whisking for another few minutes.
Spoon your meringue onto your baking paper and smooth out into a big disc, making it thinner in the middle. Place in your oven for 2 hours. Leave it to cool on the paper.
Whilst it’s cooling, whip the cream. I like to do this by hand – make sure you bowl and cream are fridge cold. Then, add sugar and vanilla to taste and whip until JUST coagulated. Don’t take it too far or it will curdle. At this time, you can chop your fruit, too.
Peel off the paper on the bottom of the meringue and place it on a large serving plate. Dollop on your whipped cream, spreading towards the edge, then covering in your chopped fruit. Serve, or keep for up to a day in the fridge.
If you’ve got 4 hours, set your oven to 110C/100C fan/Gas 1⁄4 and bake for all this time. At the end, you’ll have a perfect, crisp meringue. There’s ever any need to add silly things like cornflour or vinegar or tartar.