16 September 2010

Raspberry Pavlova - Recipe

I love a good pavlova. It's such an iconic 80's dish and maybe just a touch naff. When I was a little kid, my mum used to always make a pavlova when she hosted dinner parties, which was garnished with slices of lurid green kiwis that probably fitted right in with the quiche, shoulder pads, and the obligatory post-dinner game of Twister.

Pavlova is a very simple dessert, and is essentially made from just four things: eggs, sugar, cream, and fruit, which is why it is imperative you use the very best examples of each ingredient. The heart of any good pavlova is a good meringue, which should be crisp on the outside and soft and moist in the middle, as there's very little joy in a totally dry meringue. There is something about meringues, though, that has always intrigued me. Their main ingredient, egg, is one of those magic foods that does things you would never have thought possible; can it really be that the same proteins that go rubbery white when hard boiled can also be coaxed into those soft, voluminous peaks you wished you could ski down?

Then there is the fruit, which should be tart and juicy to cut through the richness of the cream and the sweetness of the meringue. Raspberries are perfect and, as we're at the tail-end of the Norwegian raspberry season now, I managed to bag some excellent specimens to use. Alternatively, you could use strawberries, passion fruit, or peaches.

Here's a straightforward recipe for pavlova that I like to make when friends come round for dinner. Although simple, it never fails to bring a smile to the face. One bite of the sweet, crisp meringue tempered by the voluptuous cream and tangy fruit will have you humming Kajagoogoo songs in no time.

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 7 large egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 2 punnets of raspberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 145°C (165°C for non-fan ovens)
  2. Beat the egg whites with an electric whisk or in a mixer until they form stiff peaks
  3. While whisking, slowly pour in the sugar so that it dissolves completely. The mixture will thicken and go glossy but don't over-whisk.
  4. Gently mix in the sifted cornflour
  5. Pour the mixture into a non-stick 23cm springform cake tin
  6. Place the cake tin in the oven for 1 hour
  7. After 1 hour, turn the oven off but leave the meringue in until it has cooled completely
  8. When cool, carefully run a knife round the edge to loosen the meringue from the sides of the tin and place meringue on a serving plate. It will break here and there but that just adds to its charm.
  9. When ready to serve, whip the cream until it forms soft, thick peaks, and carefully spread over the meringue
  10. Sprinkle the raspberries over the top and eat immediately

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