There’s a Swedish tradition of making wildflower crowns to wear at midsummer celebrations. I haven’t quite mastered those yet but when it comes to making the edible kind, it’s a different story.
MAKES 4 CROWNS
120g caster sugar
2 medium egg whites (60g), at room temperature
2-3 drops of lemon juice
150g whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp lemon zest
a few small strawberries, blueberries, lingonberries or other berries
elderflowers, rose petals, pansies or other edible flowers
fresh mint sprigs or strawberry leaves
1. You will need a baking tray lined with baking paper, two piping bags, a petal nozzle and a 1cm nozzle (or if you don’t have suitable nozzles, see method below).
2. For the meringue, preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Sprinkle the sugar on to the lined baking tray. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the sugar just begins to melt around the edges.
3. In the meantime, whisk the egg whites with an electric or free-standing mixer until soft and frothy. Squeeze in the lemon juice. When the sugar is ready, turn the speed on the mixer up to high and tip in the sugar slowly, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue to whisk until the meringue is thick, glossy, has cooled down and the sugar is fully incorporated. Spoon into a piping bag with a petal nozzle (alternatively, snip a 1.5cm diagonal opening in a corner of your bag).
4. Turn the oven down to its lowest setting, about 70C/fan 50C/gas ½. (You don’t want the meringue to colour at all.)
5. Mark a sheet of baking paper into 4 rectangles, draw a 10cm circle on each one with as much space as possible around it, then cut the sheet into four pieces with a circle on each.
6. Pipe the meringue along the edge of each circle, using small circular movements to create waves, as pictured. Turn the piece of paper while you’re piping. (If you find this technique too complicated, simply pipe a thick ring of meringue.) Place the meringues on a baking tray and bake for 1½ hours or until crisp on the outside and the meringues peel off without sticking to the paper. Allow them to cool.
7. Whip the cream with the icing sugar and lemon zest until it forms soft to firm peaks. Decant into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle (or snip a 1cm opening in your bag). Pipe small dollops on top of the cooled meringue and decorate with the berries, flowers and leaves.
TOP TIP Make sure your flowers have not been sprayed and are safe for human consumption.
GET AHEAD The meringues can be kept in an airtight container for a couple of days. Assemble just before serving otherwise the cream will soften the meringue.
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