Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Simple Summer Essentials: Patriotic pavlova

So there's been a bit of a hiatus in my Simple Summer Essential series owing to the end of my obsession with the Olympics, good weather (the irony, I know!) and a few days working away from home. However, I'm back on track now, with plans for some simple preserves.

At the end of last week I decided to tackle pavlova. The arrival of the much loved K-mix has meant that meringue is so much more straightforward to make. Discussion on twitter ensued after my photos went up, and it has been decreed that marshmallows will be my next K-mix adventure. Hurrah!

Now, where was I? Oh yes, meringue. So 'everyone' has a recipe for meringue. I knew I didn't want a crispy one - you know the ones you buy from the supermarkets that just seem to be all air and nothingness? I hate them. With a passion. Meringue to me needs to have a chewy middle and a crisp outside.

I toyed with the idea of making blousey overblown meringues a la the one's you see Ottolenghi windows, but as this was my actual first ever attempt at meringue I thought I'd take the easy option and make a pavlova base. With a difference. You see, I love pavlova, the combination of softly whipped, barely sweetened vanilla cream, tart and sweet fruit with the crisp, chewy meringue. It's a cacophony of contradictions, and a summer pudding I just can't get enough of. Truly. It's probably a good thing I've only just tried making it or my diet, well, not so much.

However, courtesy of M's mum (and for her via her Aunt I believe) I discovered a way to twist pavlova - to take the traditional flat base, and make it even better. How do you make it even better? Make it hold more of course! So, when making pavlova:

  • Put a large baking tray on your worktop
  • centre a cake tin, upside down on the baking tray
  • cover that in a dome of baking parchment
  • Cut out a big circle and pleated it around so that it made a kind of teepee shape, flattening the top
  • Lay this over the cake tin.
  • Use a spatula to liberally cover this with your meringue before putting it in the oven

So, now for the pavlova recipe - again courtesy of M's mum. You know, some things don't need a chef or a celebrity to tell you how to make them - a way that's worked wonderfully for years is what you're after.

M's mum's meringue - used as the basis for Patriotic pavlova

4 egg whites
8oz caster sugar (I used regular white granulated as that's what I had)
1 tsp malt vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
Pinch cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, and move your oven shelves around so that you can get a big meringue in
Beat the egg whites until stiff (this took considerably less time in the K-mix - I'm not boasting, just gleefully announcing!)
Add half of the sugar whilst still beating, then when that's mixed in and the mixture has started to go glossy, add the rest of the ingredients - continue to beat until you have a beautifully shiny, white mixture
Pile onto the dome of baking parchment using a spatula (try not to press it down too much)
Put in the oven and cook for 3 minutes (use a timer) at 190, then without opening the door turn the oven down to 120 degrees and continue to cook for an hour

Take out and leave to cool, then peel off the parchment and fill with softly whipped cream, and berries - I used blueberries, strawberries and raspberries for the red, whites and blues of the Union Flag.

Eat in front of the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Or y'know, just as you like! I used a pint of double cream, and large handfuls of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries and this made buckets - easily enough for a pudding for 4-6 people


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