With guests coming for dinner on a lovely summer evening I thought I should make something....summery. What could be more summery than a Pavlova?
I can literally count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have made a Pavlova. It might just be five times. The reason is that I find meringues terrifying to make.
Bonkers I know, especially when the whole world and her grandmother can rustle up a Pavlova at the drop of a hat, probably at the same time as a batch of delicious scones, my other nemesis.
The last Pavlova I made was huge. Looking for a recipe that would turn out smaller I found a Mary Berry recipe in her book "Absolute Favourites" and the only reason for writing this post is so that I can positively remember which recipe to use next time. This one is amply big enough and will cut into 8 servings.
3 egg whites*
175g caster sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
250ml double cream
a good handful each of mixed summer fruits, strawberries (halved if large), raspberries and blueberries. Blackberries and redcurrants would also be good.
Preheat the oven to 160C / 140 fan / gas mk 3. Lay a piece of baking paper on a baking sheet and draw a 20cm circle on it, using a cake tin or plate as a guide.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff using an electric whisk. Gradually add spoonfuls of sugar and whisk in. The mixture should be stiff and shiny and standing in peaks. (This is the terrifying part - is it stiff and shiny enough.....?)
Blend the vinegar and cornflour together into a smooth paste and stir in.
First secure the paper to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue mixture at each corner. This stops it from sliding around and makes life a lot easier. Dot large spoonfuls of the meringue onto the baking paper and spread them out to fill in the circle as evenly as possible, making the middle slightly shallower than the sides.
Slide into the middle of the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 150C / 130 fan / gas mk 2. Bake for about an hour until the meringue is crisp and a pale creamy colour. Turn off the oven but leave the meringue inside to become cold for several hours or overnight. Mine had about 8 hours and was fine.
Slide the Pavlova off the baking sheet onto a flat cake stand or plate. Whip the cream and pile into the hollow. Scatter the fruit on top and dust with icing sugar before serving.
*You can use the egg yolks to make real custard. 1 pint milk, 3 egg yolks, 1 tblsp caster sugar, 1 tblsp cornflour.