Wednesday, 28 December 2011
When I was a girl, we always had pavlova for pudding at Christmas. Though it wasn't shrouded in flickering blue flames like its traditional rival, I thought it was the most exciting part of the whole lunch.
Granny would top her pavlovas with defrosted raspberries saved from the summer bounty. In memory of her I used some frozen mixed berries on our Christmas pavlova.
I also scattered over some fresh pomegranate. When I came to photograph the fruit I found myself trying to create the same (lovely) pomegranate shot I've seen so many times. Instead I decided to try and make it mine. So in the middle of our sitting room I started splashing the pomegranate quarters into the waiting bowl of water, holding my camera in the other hand.
I must have looked pretty sheepish when mum found me drenching the white sofas and rug in the midst of torn up wrapping paper from earlier in the day. She moved me outside onto the balcony (thankfully not as cold as last time) and dropped the quarters into the bowl for me. Arthur tried to 'help' and got in the way.
Not only did I get a photo I like but I also got a Christmas memory I'll always remember with a smile.
I've had some troubles with our old recipe over the past few years so I decided to try a new one from this gobsmackingly beautiful post by Katie. It's a great recipe - it feels stable as you heap it on the sheet and bakes into a soft pillow of marshmallow-esque filling with a nice crisp shell. I like some contrast so I barely sweetened the berries and kept the cream simple.
It's a classic for a reason.
Pomegranate & Berry Pavlova
(Adapted from What Katie Ate)
For the pavlovas:
4 egg whites
220g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 and a 1/2 tsps cornflour
To assemble both:
250ml double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
100g frozen mixed summer fruit
1 tsp icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 150C (or 130C for a fan oven). Line two trays with baking parchment. Rub the clean bowl of a stand mixer (or a mixing bowl if you're using a hand whisk) with the slice of lemon. Add the whites and whisk until you have a thick froth that forms a soft peak then start slowly adding the sugar. Keep whisking until glossy and holds a fairly stiff peak. Add the vanilla and sift over the cornflour, then whisk briefly to combine. Divide the mix between the two trays, heaping it up in the middle. Use a spatula to spread out into a large nest shape (I then brought the spatula in around the sides to create a pattern.
Bake for 30 minutes then swap the trays and turn them around to help them cook evenly. Bake for another 30 minutes then turn the oven off and leave them to cool for one hour. Afterwards, take them out and leave to cool totally on a wire rack. They'll store for at least a week if needed.
When you're ready to serve, defrost the fruit. Sprinkle the icing sugar over the top to lightly sweeten them without breaking them down. Cut the pomegranate into quarters and de-seed in a bowl of water. Whip the cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Knock the centre of the pavlova gently in then spread the cream over. Top with the summer fruits and pomegranate seeds and serve.
(Makes 2 medium pavlovas, each serves 4-6)