What is it about a classic? There is something deeply satisfying and comforting in knowing when a dish will give you what it promises. When you know that nothing other will suffice and any alternations or further inventions to the original are folly. There are times when we just want it, whatever it shall be, and it is in such times that having a repertoire of classic dishes becomes invaluable to us as the home cook.
Pavlova is one such classic. When all you want is the gentle crunch of cooked meringue encasing the soft pillow marshmallow centre; covered by the fragrant tang of summer berries with just enough tart to cut through the overt sweetness provided by the meringue. Luscious whipped cream becoming the filling in this decadent sandwich. Despite the importance of the toppings there is one thing that I think can be agreed upon; it’s all about the meringue. This is a simple recipe that uses few ingredients and with the addition of one or two perhaps previously unknown to you in this recipe. The vinegar is considered to help maintain a soft marshmallow centre. The beauty of this recipe also is that it can be made in advance and as you will see even benefits from being made the night before you plan on serving it. This recipe is adapted from one by the Hairy Bikers.
Kiwi & Berries Pavlova
- 4 large free range or organic egg whites
- 8 oz. caster sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. corn flour
- 500ml whipping cream
- 400g strawberries hulled and halved
- 200g blueberries
- 200g raspberries
- (200g blackberries, 2 kiwis peeled and sliced are also options to consider)
- 2 tbsp. icing sugar
- Pomegranate seeds (either from a pomegranate, halved, and whacked out with the back of a wooden spoon, or in a container from the fresh fruit aisle if available)
- 1 tbsp. Crème de Cassis (optional) *Note* Crème de Cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur and can be found in most large off licences. Other uses include adding it to the berries in a classic trifle, or in the cocktails Kir, where a measure is topped up with white wine, or indeed a Kir Royale where it is topped up with champagne. In savoury cooking try adding a dash to a sauce to serve with game such as venison
For the Meringue
- Preheat the oven to 150C(fan oven), Gas mark 2. Place a dinner plate on a piece of baking parchment and trace around it using a pencil or pen.
- In a large bowl whisk the egg whites on high using an electric whisk or using the whisk attachment of a food mixer until they hold their own shape and form stiff peaks.
- Turning the speed down add the sugar one dessertspoon at a time, giving a couple of seconds between each spoonful until all the sugar has been used and the meringue looks glossy and luscious.
- Finally add the vanilla extract, vinegar, and corn flour and whisk briefly until fully combined.
- On a flat baking tray dab a half-teaspoon amount of meringue in the four corners. This will keep the baking parchment in place. Place the baking parchment on the tray, pencil side down. You should still be able to see the drawn circle shape through the paper. Add the meringue to the circle and shape using a spatula, using the drawn circle as a guide
- Bake in the oven for 1 hour. When the hour is up turn off the oven and leave to cool completely overnight. If making the same day, leave to cool in the oven for at least one hour and longer if you can afford the time.
About to go into the Oven
For the Pavlova Toppings
- Up to a couple of hours before serving place all the fruit into a large bowl and add the icing sugar and crème de cassis if using. This does what is called to macerate the fruit, which means the natural juices are drawn from the fruit, and creates juicy berries and a natural jus.
- Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
- Carefully remove the paper from the back of the meringue and place on your serving dish.
- Add the cream to the centre of the meringue spreading out with the back of a spoon. Pile the fruit into the centre, letting the juices run down the side