Pavlova is my secret weapon. No, honestly. For anyone who has never made it, it might look really difficult. In actual fact, it’s about seven minutes of prep, into the oven, and then two minutes slapping on whipped cream and fruit before it’s served. Pavlova can make a pretty average dinner look like you’ve ‘really tried’.
I know there are traditionalists who like banana, kiwi, strawberries and passionfruit on their pavs. Here in Scotland, particularly in summer (which I find myself dreaming of quite often at the moment), I prefer to top my pav with Scottish berries: raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and even the occasional red current.
As summer hasn’t yet started, I topped my pavlova this weekend with my favourite poached rhubarb. It was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. I didn’t take a picture, so here is a photo of ‘one I made earlier’. (I’d feel like a bonafide TV chef saying that, except the one in this picture I made 12 months earlier.)
- 4 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
- 1 heaped cup caster sugar (i.e. just over a cup)
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 pint whipping cream
- a selection of seasonal berries and fruits
Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a tray with baking paper.
Whisk the egg whites and the cream of tartar in a mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating continually throughout. Add the cornflour with the last addition of sugar. Once all the sugar is incorporated, beat in the vinegar and vanilla.
Dollop the mixture into the centre of the baking paper and form it into the shape of a circular cake, somewhere between 20 and 25 centimetres in diameter. Using a palate knife, smooth off the sides and top, with a slight dip in the centre top to hold the cream and fruit.
Reduce the heat to 120°C. Slide the tray inside the oven and bake for 1.5 hours. Turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar while the meringue cools.
Once cool, whip the cream to soft peaks and spread on the meringue. Scatter or arrange the fruit (as thickly as possible) on the top of the cream and serve.) Pavlova doesn’t refrigerate well as sugar starts to leak from the meringue, so this last part must be done just before serving.