By Katie Comer
Growing up I have watched my mum create, bake and decorate the most incredible desserts for our family and friends. She is the unsung hero of dessert making within family and without a shadow of a doubt, as many of her friends and family would tell you, she is the connoisseur of pavlovas. Although originating from New Zealand, this summer berry pavlova is the quintessential English dessert that will complete your summer BBQ. The light and airy meringue is complemented by whipped cream and an assortment of summer fruits, making it a guaranteed winner at any gathering. I am fortunate enough to have witnessed my mum in action enough times to have somewhat learnt the art of making the perfect meringue. So, under her supervision and good will, I have attempted to make one for you all to see and have attached the recipe should you wish to try it for yourselves.
For the meringue
- 4 fresh free-range eggs, at room temperature
- 8oz caster sugar
For the topping
- 300ml double cream
- 1 vanilla pod (if desired)
- 15 strawberries
- Handful of blueberries
- Handful of raspberries
- Teaspoon of icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 140°C or 275°F or gas mark 1. After you have separated the egg whites, put them into a large bowl and whisk until the whites stand in soft peaks.
Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, this will make the whites a glossy colour. Continue to whisk in the sugar gradually until there is none left. Ensure your hands are clean and use the tips of your fingers to check if the mixture is grainy, if it is, continue to whisk until the whites are smooth and glossy.
Using a small amount of the meringue mix, place little dollops of the mix in each corner and in the middle of a baking sheet. You can either use grease proof paper or baking parchment to stick onto the baking sheet. Then spoon the mixture onto the baking sheet, swirl the meringue into a circular shape, leaving a small groove in the middle for the topping.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until very crisp on the outside, with the centre still soft. Turn off the oven and leave inside the oven to cool. Once cool, remove from the oven and peel off the lining paper. Place the meringue on a serving plate ready to decorate.
Whip the cream and vanilla pod until soft peaks have formed. Using a spatula or spoon gently dollop and spread the cream around the centre of the meringue. With a sprinkling of fruit and a dusting of icing sugar, the Pavlova is a justifiable choice, even for someone on a diet!
I’d like to think I have done my mum and Mary Berry proud for that matter… The Great British Bake Off here I come.