At the start of the Easter break I took a trip down Bristol to stay with my BEST friend. It was her Dad’s birthday and we were faced with the challenge of making a Birthday-cake for someone who hates cake… So we decided to make a Birthday- Pavlova. The first mistake we made was thinking meringue was easy to make, we looked at so many recipes: The Londoner’s, Mary Berry’s and Nigella’s for inspiration. The first problem we discovered is there’s a lot of contradictory advice when it comes to creating the perfect meringue, but we think we might have cracked it … pardon the pun.
For the Meringue
- 4 Large Egg Whites (Although it is advisable to have spare)
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 2tsp Vanilla Essence
For the Creamy Filling
- 200g Mascarpone
- 150g Whipping Cream
For the Passion Fruit Sauce / Topping
- 1 Large Egg & 1 Egg(stra) Yolk
- 3 Passion-fruit
- 75g Unsalted Butter
- 75g Caster Sugar
- 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries and Dessicated Coconut
First thing first pre-heat the oven to 140 °C, you need to separate the eggs. In total we got through about 14, so to save wasting any use one bowl to separate, one bowl to put discarded yolks and one bowl to add the whites too for mixing. (We lost several eggs by poor cracking and yolk contamination)
Whisk the egg whites until they form ‘stiff peaks’, that means if you tip the bowl upside down the whisked egg whites stay put. (Best to test peaks with a spoon first, so you don’t risk any further egg-casualties) Add half of your sugar and continue to whisk, you peaks should become a little stiffer and glossier. Then stir through the rest of your sugar and the vanilla essence.
Spoon the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment, (or if you, like us, forgot to you forgot to buy some foil does the trick too). Nigella has a great tutorial on ‘fashioning a pav’ on her Instagram.
Place in the oven and cook at 140 °C for twenty minutes, after twenty minutes turn down to 100°C for another 1hr 50. Cooking the meringue at a low temperature means you get a crispy outside and gooey/chewy inside.
Meanwhile you can start on your passion-fruit sauce. Sieve the pulp of the Passion-fruit into a bowl to collect the juice, and put the remaining pulp to one side for the topping. Melt the butter in a pan, beat the sugar and eggs together and combine. Add in the passion-fruit juice and stir continuously (to avoid it splitting) until all the sugar has dissolved and the sauce begins to thicken. Leave to cool in the fridge until your Pavlova is ready to be assembled.
For the creamy filling, whisk the mascarpone and whipping cream together, It should only take a couple of seconds.
When the timer on the oven beeps, switch the oven off but leave the meringue in the oven to cool (a special tip from Mary Berry). When the meringue has finally cooled you’re ready to top it. Its better to compile you Pavlova just before serving to the meringue doesn’t become soggy.