Fresh Fruit Pavlova
by Nick Nairn from Nick Nairn Cook School (Octopus)
Photography by Francesca Yorke
100g / 3½ oz egg whites
1 tbsp cornflour
A squeeze of lemon juice
100g / 3½ oz caster sugar
400ml / 14 fl oz double cream
250g / 9 oz strawberries
100g / 3½ oz raspberries
Sifted icing sugar, for dusting
Raspberry sauce, to serve (see recipe below)
1. Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1.
2. Place the egg whites in a clean stainless steel bowl. If you have a table top mixer, this the time to get it out as there is a lot of whisking involved here. Set the timer on a slow setting and beat the whites to the soft peak stage.
3. Dissolve the cornflour in the lemon juice and add this with half of the sugar. Increase the speed of the mixer and beat for 2 minutes until the mix reaches the medium peak stage.
4. Finally add the remaining sugar and beat again for 5 minutes until all the sugar is incorporated and the meringue is very, very thick and shiny or forms stiff peaks.
5. Mark a 25cm/10 in circle on a sheet of non-stick baking parchment and place it on a baking sheet. Fill a piping bag, fitted with a plain wide nozzle, with the meringue. Starting in the centre of the circle, pipe the meringue on to the paper, working outwards in a spiral (a bit like a childish snail drawing); continue until the circle is filled with meringue. Next pipe blobs on top of the circle all the way around the edge and make a second circle of blobs inside the first.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, turn off the oven and leave the meringue inside for a further hour, where it will carry on cooking and then cool down very slowly.
Remove from the oven when completely cold.
7. To serve, whisk the cream until it reaches the soft-peak stage. Carefully remove the baking parchment from the meringue, set it on a serving plate and spread the cream over the top, swirling it with a palette knife to cover the surface.
8. Slice the strawberries thinly and arrange on top of the cream, leaving the centre free for the raspberries. Pile the raspberries into the centre and dredge the whole thing with icing sugar. Serve with raspberry sauce.
Whisking egg whites (see below)
Mise en place
The meringue can be made and stored in a large container with a tight-fitting lid for about 1-2 days. If serving for a dinner party, have the meringue ready, lightly whip the cream and assemble at the last minute.
Nick says: My favourite fruit combination for pavlova is fresh strawberries with raspberry sauce – a real taste of summer! I don’t bother piping meringue – I just spoon it into a mound and make a hollow in the centre. It might take a bit longer to cook this way. You can also make a large rectangular pavlova and cut out portions to serve.
Makes about 200ml/½ pint
350g / 12oz fresh or frozen raspberries
25g / 1oz icing sugar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Place the raspberries, icing sugar and lemon juice into a blender and whizz for 45 seconds.
2. Pour this through a fine sieve into a bowl, cover and refrigerate before using. This will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge, or 3 months in the freezer.
3. An alternative method is to pour the sugar over the raspberries and lemon juice and leave for 20 minutes before forcing the mix through a fine sieve. This avoids splitting the raspberry seeds, which can make the sauce bitter.
Tip: Heating the raspberries just until the juices start to flow gives the sauce extra vibrancy and flavour.
1. Begin by separating your eggs. Break the egg carefully in two and pass the yolk gently between the two parts of the shell. Be careful not to damage the yolk, as even a little yolk in the white will prevent it from whisking up correctly.
2. Add a little lemon juice or cream of tartar to the whites. This will help to stretch the whites and make it easier to tease out the long strands without them snapping. This is essential for fluffy whites. Older egg whites will increase in volume much quicker than fresher eggs. The foam is a little less stable than fresh whites, but ideal for meringues.
3. We prefer to use a stainless steel bowl to whisk eggs, but a glass or ceramic bowl will do. Avoid plastic bowls as they can often hold a residue of grease, which will prevent the eggs whisking properly. Tilt the bowl up at an angle and begin to whisk.
4. Lift the egg whites high to allow as much air as possible into the mix.
5. Continue whisking until the egg white stands up in soft peaks. With a soft peak the peaks will curl over rather than stand up stiffly. Eggs reach the soft peak stage relatively quickly, so whisking by hand will allow for the best control. Soft peak mixes are often used to lighten up mixtures.
6. If you continue to whisk for longer, the mix will start to stiffen a little. A medium peak is just a little firmer than a soft peak, but should still wobble when the whisk is shaken.
7. Meringues require egg whites to be whisked to a stiff peak. Even the strongest arms would give up on this task, so it’s best to use a hand mixer, or even better a table top mixer. Stiff peaks appear shiny and moist and when ready will remain in a bowl held upside down.