Floating Islands with Spun Sugar

I saw Mary Berry create this recipe for floating islands on the Great British Bake Off Masterclass. I have always sprinkled cocoa powder over the meringue eggs (see here) but would certainly recommend this for a change.

Floating Islands with Spun Sugar

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the crème anglaise
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (1 cup)
  • 180 ml (7 fl oz) double cream/heavy cream (¾ cup)
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only (reserve 3 egg whites for the meringue)
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅓ cup)
  • For the meringues
  • 3 eggs, whites only (reserved from the crème anglaise)
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅓ cup)
  • For the spun sugar
  • 115 g (4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup)


  • You will also need a deep sided sauté or frying pan/skillet with lid and four shallow dessert bowls.

  • Method
  • For the spun sugar
  • Melt the sugar, without stirring, in a small stainless steel pan over a medium heat. Meanwhile, cover a rolling pin with parchment. When the sugar turns a deep golden-brown remove the pan from the heat. Leave to cool slightly, about 30 seconds, then, using the back of a fork or a whisk, quickly flick the caramel backwards and forwards over the rolling pin. (Take care as the sugar will still be very hot.) Gather the strands into a rough ball shape while gently pulling upwards and place on a clean sheet of parchment paper.

  • For the poaching liquid
  • This will become the crème anglaise. Pour the milk and cream in the sauté or frying pan/skillet and stir in the vanilla. Then bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat while making the meringue.

  • For the meringues
  • In a large grease-free bowl, using an electric hand whisk on fast speed, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form (or use the whisk attachment on a food mixer). Now gradually whisk in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form and the meringue is thick and glossy. 

  • Have a glass or jug of water to hand. Then using two metal tablespoons or serving spoons, shape large eggs from the meringue mixture, dipping the spoons in the water to help shape them and keep them smooth. The meringue should make 4 very large eggs. Place the meringue eggs in the poaching liquid as you form them. Cover the pan and, over a very low heat, poach the meringue eggs for about 8–9 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Make sure the poaching liquid simmers very gently. It must not boil or the meringues will puff up and then collapse. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a wire rack covered with paper towel to drain. 

  • For the crème anglaise
  • Strain the poaching milk through a sieve into a large jug. 

  • In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 2–3 minutes.

  • Gradually stir in the warm poaching milk. Then pour the mixture into a clean heavy-based pan and cook over a very low heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring continuously, until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.

To serve

  • Divide the crème anglaise amongst the dessert bowls and then float a meringue egg on top.

    Decorate with a ball of spun sugar.
Print Recipe

Updated: December 29, 2019

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