When the sun comes out and the berries ripen up it’s pavlova time! I love a good pav, as do all my nearest and dearest. I tend to make them only in the warmer months, probably because I like to make them with beautiful Summer berries. This pavlova comes from Butter Sugar Flour Eggs by Gale Gand.
A few miles from where we live there is raspberry farm and for the past three (or maybe 4) years they have sold their berries from a little porta cabin thing at the roadside. They are not particularly cheap, but I know I’m buying something picked the day I buy them and of premium quality, with only the miles between the farm and home as the distance the berries have travelled. As a bonus they sell bags of frozen berries as a reasonable price for making jam, and due to them having been consigned to the jam bags because they are too ripe to sell as ‘perfect’ shapely berries they and the jam they make taste wonderful. I also bought some Scottish strawberries as well, but not originating from as far north as us.
For quite a few years I made many different recipes for pavlova until I found this one. It really is (to my mind anyway) a four star pavlova. It’s secret and therefore Gale’s secret that she so kindly shares with us is to use raspberry vinegar. She calls it a "…subtle, almost ghostly raspberry flavour…" and that pretty much sums it up – it makes for a great flavoured pav, it doesn’t just taste sweet, there is a little more there in terms of flavour. I have changed the creamy topping only a little, giving a nod to Billy Granger in his Everyday book, and added in a small pot of low fat yoghurt. I did this because I wanted a bit more topping, but didn’t just want to add more cream. I think the mix of cream and yoghurt tastes richer than just cream alone, and it’s not quite so calorific – but I don’t think a pav is the time to worry about that one! Also you might be thinking does the cream need the soft brown sugar – it brings out the flavour of the cream, and if you think that sounds weird give it a go next time you whisk cream for a dessert. Here is the recipe if you would like to try it.
½ cup egg whites (4 fl oz) about 4 eggs
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cornflour
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
½ teaaspoon vanilla extract
10fl oz double (heavy) cream
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 fl oz pot of plain low fat yoghurt (my addition and optional)
Chocolate curls for sprinkling (also my addition and absolutely optional!)
Fruit for the topping
Heat the oven to 350. Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a mixer fitter with a whisk attachment until foamy. Add the sugar, cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and continue to whisk until stiff, smooth and glossy (about 5 – 8 minutes more).
Draw a 9 inch circle on a piece of parchment paper and lay on a baking tray with the pencil marks down, but you should still be able to see the circle (or just go by eye). Spoon the egg whites onto the paper and smooth the sides and top with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 300 and bake until the mringue has puffed up and cracked on the top and a light café au lait colour, about 45 minutes more. Turn off the oven and let the pav cool for 30 minutes still in the oven, but with the door ajar. Then cool on a rack (still on the paper and tray).
When cool peel away the paper and whip the cream and sugar until pretty stiff, then fold in the yoghurt, spread over the meringue and top with fruit. I like a sprinkle of chocolate as well, but it’s your call now!