I know, I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything in ages! Working in retail over Christmas is inevitably taking up all my time at the moment. But finally I have a moment to share with you one of my favourite foods growing up: pavlova! I can’t imagine there is anyone who hasn’t come across pavlova somewhere, but incase there is, pavlova is an Australian/Kiwi dessert which basically consists of meringue and fruit. Its origin is shrouded in mystery, but it was definitely named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Whenever there was a party or get-together at my Grandma’s house, there was always pavlova. I don’t think we could have had a Christmas dinner or a birthday party without one! Grandma went with the traditional style mile-high meringue, the top covered in cream with fruit arranged in geometic patterns, usually strawberries and kiwi fruit laced around the obligatory pool of passionfruit pulp in the middle. My dad’s version is a little different though. His meringue is shallower, and has more of that almost chewy, marshmallowy taste where the sugar has begun to caramelise a bit, with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a mountain of fruit salad on top! Seriously, the fruit is always at least triple the size of the meringue, which makes everyone feel a lot better about the fact that they’re basically eating a sugar cloud.
This recipe is from one of Delia Smith’s many books, and the best thing is you can make it the night before, leaving the meringue to cool in the oven over night. Which means on the day all you have to do is slap it on a plate and pile it high with fruit. Perfect! Even better, this dessert is multi-talented! Pavlova is the fancy big sister of Eton Mess, just break up the rest of the meringue into chunks and tip it and any remaining fruit and cream/mascarpone in a serving dish (add some more if you like), squeeze an orange over it and then cover it in Pimms (or rum and Cointreau, or a mixture of both!)
3 egg whites
175g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 150C. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks – you should be able to turn the bowl upside down over your head and not end up wearing your meringue as a hat. Then whisk in sugar in six batches – make sure all the sugar is incorporated before adding the next batch. (It is very important to do this step gradually and not just bung all the sugar in at once – as tedious as it is, take the time to do it properly and the end result will be the reward!) Use a tablespoon to spoon the meringue into a circle on a lined baking tray. You can then use a skewer to gently swirl the meringue and make it pretty. Put it into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 140C. Bake for an hour then leave in the oven to cool completely, with the door ajar if you want it to cool quicker. (You can leave it in there overnight if you wish). Serve it on a big plate with mascarpone cheese or whipped cream and lots of fruit: berries, kiwi, mango, passionfruit and stone fruits work best.