Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Warm Italian Meringue and Vinicotto Grapes Pizza

It's time for a not such a success story. Don't let this blog fool you (snort - yeah right, as if), I definitely have my fair share of failures. Sometimes it feels like more because, strangely, it all seems to happen at once. I'll be sailing along, baking happily, and then a cake will sink or biscuits will burn or pastry will be soggy. And for the next few weeks absolutely nothing will work - even long standing successful recipes. Curdled custards, lumpy sauces, leaden bread I could go on and on and on. It gets to the point where I throw my apron down in frustration and decide that I am completely useless and there is no point in my ever setting foot in the kitchen again.

And then a butterfly will flap its wings or the wind will change direction or something and it all comes right again. So weird!!!

But this time I do have a bit of an excuse, the recipe. I don't think it was all my fault.

This in case you were wondering is a Warm Italian Meringue and Vincotto Grapes Pizza. The crust was delightful as always and the grapes were simply delicious. I have not really tasted vincotto before. It was fantastically intense and flavoursome. I think the grapes themselves would be great with a whole lot of things. Even in a trifle with some rich custard, I think they would be great.

No, the problem was the meringue. When it came out of the oven it looked fantastic - a huge puffy cloud of meringue. But that lasted about three seconds. It shrank and shrank and shrank to just a little shrivelled ring, a mere parody of its former self. And it tasted eggy. Distinctly eggy. Not what you want at all.

The thing is that the recipe only calls for 1 tbspn (4 tspns) sugar for 3 egg whites. I'm not sure what the right ratio should be, but that sounds way too low to me. But on the other hand there may be a risk that, with more sugar, the meringue would simply burn to a crisp at the high temperatures needed to cook the base. Maybe it needs to be done in two stages. Cook the base and then add and cook the meringue.

I'm certainly going to give it a go, because I think that this will be a fantastic recipe if it can be made to work!!

Warm Italian Meringue and Vincotto Grapes Pizza
(adapted from Pizza Modo Mio)

20gm butter
90gm seedless red grapes
125ml vincotto
3 egg whites
1 tbspn caster sugar
1 quantity of pizza dough

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the grapes and cook for 3 minutes or until just tender. Remove the grapes, add vincotto and simmer until reduced by half. Return the grapes to the pan, toss to combine well, then remove from the heat and cool.

Place a pizza stone in the oven and heat to 250C.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Put the sugar and 1 tbspn water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Whisking continuously, gradually add the hot syrup to the egg whites and whisk until stiff and glossy.

Roll out the dough into two 15cm rounds or free form shapes. Prick with a fork. Spread with the meringue, place on the heated stone and bake for 4-6 minutes. Remove and scatter over the vincotto grapes and serve.

*This is an Australian recipe. 1 Australian tbspn = 4 tspn (20ml). 1 US tbspn = 3 tspn (15ml).

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At 12:59 am, Blogger thecelticcookinshanghai said...

Love your honesty, I too have my share of failures which I am not too proud to blog. We are all human. Your egg white sugar ratio does seem way too loe. For 3 egg whites I would use 6oz(175g) sugar. It would cook at a high temp but only for a short time. Think seperating the base & topping might be the way to go. It didn't look bad at all though. Nobody would have guessed.

At 8:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just the name "vincotto" sounds intense and wonderful!

To make the most stable meringue, you need between 1:1 egg white and sugar (by weight) and 1:2 egg white to sugar. It was not your fault at all:)

I bet it was fantastic anyway; I can imagine that it will be glorious with a non-shrinking meringue!

At 9:38 pm, Blogger grace said...

what a fabulous pizza! i'm only sorry the recipe wasn't correct, because the idea behind it is quite clever. i hope you do try it again--share it with us if you do!

At 7:26 am, Anonymous The Cooking Ninja said...

I think the problem is the sugar is too low that's why it taste very eggy. That said, it sure looks delicious all the same. :)

At 11:22 pm, Blogger Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, darling, we all have had our moments of frustration with recipes - I tried making a pavlova years ago and it was a disaster.
After buying an oven thermometer and using a recipe by Donna Hay it was success. My meringues were baked at low temperature and for longer, but no dough was involved. And I agree with you and the others about the sugar not being enough.

At 10:17 pm, Blogger KJ said...

Thanks everyone, glad to hear that it was not all my fault. I will try this again at some stage with a proper egg to sugar ratio.


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