Eton Mess (strawberries and cream dessert)

Photography: Michael Hart

This all-time classic British dessert is one of the most delicious ways to celebrate that other summer favourite – strawberries and cream.

Eton mess is traditionally served on June 4 at the prize-giving picnic at Eton College and is reported to have been sold at the school “sock” (tuck) shop since the 1930s. Myth has it that the pudding came about after a dog sat on a picnic basket, crushing the strawberries and cream inside. The Eton picnickers went ahead and tucked in regardless, enjoying the end result so much that they went on to recreate the pud. It’s more likely, however, that the dessert’s name comes from the now archaic meaning of “mess” as a portion of food.

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cooking time 1 hour & 30 minutes
  • Portion size 6 servings



Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).

Using an electric hand mixer, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar, whisking continuously until stiff and glossy, then fold in the vanilla extract.

Spoon large dollops of the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment, leaving space between each to allow for spreading. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, reduce the temperature to 140°C (275°F) and bake for 1 1⁄4 to 1 1⁄2 hours, until firm to the touch. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Whip the cream with the icing sugar until soft peaks form. Roughly break up the meringues and fold into the cream with 300 g strawberries.

Spoon into 6 dessert glasses, top with the remaining 100 g strawberries and serve straight away.


Note:  Caster sugar – superfine sugar, usually available only in the white (not golden) variety in North America


Try this:  Garnish with a handful of torn mint leaves for a fragrant twist.




Nutritional facts Per serving: about

  • Calories 489
  • Total fat 32.5 g
  • Saturated fat 20.3 g
  • Sugars 40.6 g
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Eton Mess