Pavlova the perfect summer pudding – it’s not too heavy but it’s just rich enough to make a delightfully indulgent dessert. It’s best with British strawberries freshly whipped cream (none of your canned nonsense).
Egg whites whip best at room temperature, so if you’re going to use a carton of egg whites, take them out of the fridge a couple of hours before you need them. I always make the meringue base the night before so it can cool and dry out in the oven – you can do it on the day you need it instead but it does need around 4 hours to dry out in the oven as it cools.
- 4 large free range egg whites
- 225g caster sugar
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 300ml double cream (cold)
- 1 tsp icing sugar
- 2 punnets of fresh British strawberries
You also need a square baking tray lined with baking parchment
- Preheat your oven to 150°c.
- Place your egg whites in a bowl (or a standmixer) and beat on high speed until they are fluffy, airy, and foamy but not too stiff. You’re looking for soft peaks but you don’t want it to be overly stiff.
- Turn the speed of the mixer to medium and slowly add the sugar, one dessert spoon at a time. Keep going until it’s all in there then beat on high speed for 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and beat for another minute on medium-high.
- Look at the mixture – is it forming stiff peaks? You should be able to turn the whole bowl upside down without it falling out or dripping. Keep beating until you can do this but be careful not to overmix it. You should keep checking it every 20 seconds for stiff peaks.
- Spoon the mixture out onto the parchment covered baking sheet and spread into a circle. Hollow out the middle section slightly so it looks like a big nest. This will be where your cream and strawbs go.
- Pop the meringue into the oven and immediately turn it down to 140°c. I use an oven thermometer here to ensure it’s perfect.
- Bake for 1 hour and 15 mins until it’s hard to the touch. DO NOT take it out of the oven. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool inside it. It’s best left overnight. If you don’t have overnight, it needs at least four hours left on its own in the oven.
- The next morning, you can either leave it in the oven until you need it or if you are using your oven you can remove it and store it in an airtight container.
- Wash and chop the strawberries and leave to dry on a clean tea towel.
- Add a teaspoon of icing sugar to the cream and beat until it’s fluffy and soft – be careful not to overbeat it as it can go from almost perfect to very stodgy in seconds. Keep testing it – it will look different as it starts to change so watch it like a hawk. You want it to be light and fluffy – under beat it if you’re not sure. And if you’re planning to pipe it, leave it quick sloppy as it really thickens up in the piping bag. Trust me!
- When you’re not far off serving it, spread the cream over the middle of the giant meringue nest and pile the strawberries on top. Place in the fridge for 15 mins.
- When you’re ready to eat, dust lightly with icing sugar if you have some handy (I didn’t when I took the pic above!) and serve!