Head Chef Charlie Hibbert from Thyme's Ox Barn restaurant is back bringing us more delicious recipes. This week he brings us the perfect autumnal dessert for entertaining. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser this meringue cake with poached pears and cream is the ultimate indulgence.
Growing up, Granny would always make meringue cake and crème caramel for a special Sunday lunch. Maybe it sounds extravagant to have two puddings but they were always eaten. She made this particular combination so that no bit of egg was left over. She was a stickler for not wasting anything, the egg whites are used in the meringue cake and the yolks in the crème caramel. Granny’s recipes for meringue cake and crème caramel were adapted from the original Cordon Bleu Monthly Cookery Course; my recipes are a bit different but are still essential for any special Sunday lunch.
Granny's meringue cake, poached pears & cream
4 egg whites, approximately 150g
300g caster sugar
½ tsp cider or white wine vinegar
1 level tsp cornflour
Cream, gently whipped
Poached pears, see below, cut into quarters
A handful of blanched and toasted almonds (Valencia almonds are best), chopped
Preheat the oven to 100°C | 80°C fan | gas mark ¼. In a mixer, beat the egg whites in a scrupulously clean and dry bowl, until they form stiff peaks. Bit by bit, begin to slowly pour in the sugar until the mix is stiff and glossy. Then add the vinegar and the cornflour and beat it until it is incorporated (no more than 5-10 seconds). Gently spoon the mixture onto an oven-safe plate of your choice or a tray covered with a piece of baking paper and bake in the oven for an hour before taking it out of the oven and letting it cool completely. Top it with whipped cream, poached pears and almonds.
When the pears have been eaten, don’t discard the syrup. Cook more pears in the liquid, use it as a cordial or drink with Champagne.
1 lemon, rind peeled into strips, juice reserved
500ml of white wine
350g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped out
3 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
Peel the pears and add the lemon juice to prevent the pears from browning. Put all of the ingredients except for the pears into a pot. Bring to a simmer and carefully drop the pears in. Cut a round of baking paper and cover the pears so that they stay under the surface and allow them to gently soften. Don’t let the liquid boil as that will cause the pears to break apart. After about 20 minutes, test the pears with a paring knife, they should be soft to the core but holding their shape. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Thyme includes 32 bedrooms situated in the Georgian rectory, The Lodge, The Farmhouse and the cottages around the courtyard; the Ox Barn restaurant (62 seater); Baa bar; meadow spa, orchid house, pool, botanical bothy & Bertioli beauty products; balcony room & piggery boutiques selling Bertioli silk wear, tableware & bespoke homeware; cookery school; farm, kitchen gardens, orchards & water meadows; Old Walls self-catered cottage; Tithe Barn for private events
Thyme’s room rates currently start at £335 (midweek) / £395 (Fri, Sat) per night. These room rates include breakfast
Thyme, Southrop Manor Estate, Southrop, Gloucestershire, GL7 3PW