There’s nothing quite like a Pavlova to elicit a wistful and starry-eyed response from those about to eat it. It makes an appearance at all kinds of summer celebrations and is often the queen of the table when deserts appear.
To be honest, I love them because of their simplicity. They’re a breeze to make and they showcase stunning summer ingredients like nothing else – and then there are the starry-eyed recipients.
Named for a Russian ballerina but not well known outside of the antipodes I was glad to introduce the Finn’s family to it one lunchtime to much acclaim. A new experience for them and a success all around.
This Pav recipe comes from my heavily dog-eared copy of Stephanie Alexander’s The Cooks Companion and has become a staple for me. When you’ve found the best, there’s no need to mess, (well, except that I can’t help it and use raw or golden caster sugar instead of white to transform the meringue to an almost rose gold caramel – but that’s it I swear).
A lovely friend and colleague left the team this week past to start a new exciting adventure as a soon to be parent, so what better way to celebrate a new generation of Pavlova lovers than with this.
4 egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
250 grams of golden/ raw caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
A few drops of pure vanilla
250ml of thick cream or firmly whipped if you prefer
Raspberries, blueberries, walnuts and lemon curd (recipe below)
Set your oven to 180c. Beat the egg whites with the salt until firm. Add the sugar a little at a time and beat until shiny and stiff (and no longer gritty). Add the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour and gently fold into the mixture until combined.
Transfer on to a prepared baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Flatten the mound a little and smooth out the sides. As I don’t invert my pavs after baking this is the point you can get creative. Using a spatula pat the meringue around the edges of the top lifting gentle waves and loops across the surface. Don’t worry too much about the centre as it will be covered with cream.
Place into the oven and reduce the temperature to 150c and bake for 30 minutes. Then reduce again to 120c and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Switch off the oven and allow the meringue to cool completely. I often bake it the night before the party and leave it in the oven overnight.
The Lemon Curd
4 egg yolks (reserved from the meringue above)
75 grams of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of caster sugar
Juice and rind of two lemons
Because I make this curd often to dress a pavlova, it can sometimes be runnier than you’re probably used too, but don’t worry – that’s how you want it. If you want the curd for crumpets in the morning, pop it into the fridge to set a little or reduce the lemon juice to around 100ml if you’re using larger lemons.
Combine the sugar, egg yolks, butter and the juice and rind of the lemons in a small saucepan. Stir over a gentle heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is combined. Bring to a simmer while stirring and cook for a few minutes until think and the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. And there you have it – instant lemon curd and possibly the best unexpected pavlova topping you’re likely to come across.
Dress it up
Dress your cooled meringue with thick dollopy cream (or light fluffy whipped if you prefer), spoonfuls of the home-made lemon curd, raspberries, blueberries and walnuts.
There it is in all its glory – Pavlova. Irresistible! (Hooray)