Recipes go in and out of fashion in much the same way as clothes. Done to death till passé, ignored for a while, then suddenly revived as retro and quirky. Pork belly got cool. Heston’s started pushing the steak and kidney pudding. I even came across a chicken Kiev recipe in a food magazine the other day.
Come Dine With Me is repeated on pretty much every single channel showing hapless yet arrogant home cooks cock-up three-course dinner parties and employ clumsy Machiavellian tactics to win the thousand pounds for highest scoring dinner. Pavlova seems to be the dessert of choice: they all make it. As far as I can gather its ‘the’ dessert of the eighties and nineties; all our grannies, mums and aunties pulled this one out of the bag.
Being a bit of a fashion snob, it was one those recipes I just ignored. Common as muck, Pavlova hadn’t yet gone so far into un-cool that it had passed full circle to cool again. The very fact that so many CDWM contestants butchered it made me dismiss like those mid-length gipsy skirts with the drawstring waist everyone wears with a vest-top in summer. Bland.
However, I’d bought a cheap mechanical whisk on Ebay in a fit of bidding addiction. As meringues involve the furious whisking of egg whites with sugar till they change their structure and become way bigger than you ever thought they could be, I thought it would be a great test for my latest gadget. I also realised I’d never actually made a meringue before, despite laughing at the wretched Come Dine With Me attempts.
Fuck me I’m glad I did it. There’s a reason it’s a popular dessert - its simple, cheap, tasty and looks spectacular with minimum effort. I followed Delia’s meringue technique from her website but made the rest up as I went along. It feels light with the fresh berries and fruit sauce, but the cream and hint of caramel in the baked meringue stops it from feeling too goody goody. I was really proud of this one.
Ps. My whisk broke halfway through the egg whites….
Pavlova – Serves 6
NB: make the meringue the night before you need it as it needs to cool in the oven for ages.
3 large egg whites separated
175 g golden caster sugar
175 g blueberries
200 g raspberries
Juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons of icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
300 ml double cream
100 ml sour cream
1) Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius.
2) To make sure your mixing bowl is completely greaseless by rubbing lemon juice on it then rinsing in very hot water. Cool it down again with cold water and dry thoroughly before putting the egg whites in.
3) Whisk thoroughly until soft peaks form when you lift the whisk.
4) Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking in between until all incorporated and it is stiff and glossy.
5) Put a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray. Using a metal spoon smooth a disc of a meringue mixture about 2 inches high and 20 cm in diameter. Then dollop blogs on the edge of this circle till they join up and you get a semi ‘bowl’ or ‘nest’ of meringue.
6) Bake in the oven for 1 hour then turn off and leave in the oven overnight so it cools and dries slowly.
Cream: whip it til its fairly stiff and fold in the sour cream. Add a tablespoon of caster sugar if you fancy.
Fruit sauce and fruit:
1) blend a handful of blueberries and raspberries, a squeeze of lemon juice and a tablespoon of caster sugar using an electric hand blender. Using the back of a metal spoon push through a fine sieve to get a seedless/skinless sauce. Taste and add more sugar/lemon juice depending.
2) Fruit: in a large bowl gently toss the remaining whole berries with a squeeze of lemon and three tablespoons of icing sugar till their shiny.
1) Carefully peel the greaseproof paper from the meringue and put on a serving plate/stand.
2) Spoon the cream into the hollow bit.
3) Using a teaspoon drizzle the fruit sauce all over. Its pretty.
4) Place the whole berries on top of the cream.
5) Dust a light sprinkle icing sugar through a fine sieve over the whole lot.