My favourite story of this pudding's origin is that some floppy-haired, wicker-basket bearing public schoolboys ventured out on a picnic and after finding the perfect spot discovered that their pavlova had been upended. Thus the name, Eton Mess.
I don't know if this is true, but Eton Mess is truly a fantastic English summer pudding made traditionally from cream, strawberries and meringues. However, I sometimes find it a bit too sweet and a little cloying so I made a couple of adjustments.
Firstly, I love cream but I really felt it needed a kick. So I infused the cream with orange (sounds fancy...) by combining the double cream with the juice and grated rind of one big orange. I left it, unwhipped, in the fridge to mingle.
When it was time for pudding, I broke the ready-made meringues (life's too short) into fairly sizable pieces, to keep their crunch. I sliced the strawberries and mixed them with the meringue. I poured the softly whipped orange double cream over the top. It should have the rumpled, soft consistency of an unmade bed! I mixed gently - you don't want to break anything up too much and you definitely don't want a total coverage of cream or it's too uniform and spoils the 'mess'. Then, simply sprinkled on some pomegranate seeds to give colour and bite and just cut through the sweetness.
It was divine.
Eton Mess was the pudding for my 'indoor picnic' dinner, which started with creamy mushrooms with bacon and parmigiano reggiano (a soupier version of this) followed by potatoes, salmon, prosciutto, grilled Mediterranean vegetables and Feta salad.