It's spring time! The flowers are blooming and fruit is coming into season. Celebrate with this spring time pavlova blood orange curd, whipped orange blossom cream and finished with berries and edible flowers! Also learn my tips and tricks to turning out a perfect pavlova!
Pavlova is one of my favourite desserts ever. Much like fashion, pavlova was popular in the 70s and 80s and then fell out of popularity for a while then has experienced a resurgence. Now you can get all sorts of decorative pavlovas and this is one of them. It may look intimidating but I promise that if you go heed these tips, you will turn out a perfect pavlova!
My Top 10 Tips for making a Perfect Pavlova
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1 - I always bake my pavlova the day before. The pavlova is delicate and best to cool it in the oven so the night before I bake it, turn the oven off and let it cool completely in the oven. Then it is ready to top the next day!
2 - Make sure that your eggs are at room temperature. Cold eggs won't whip up as well. I usually warm them in a bowl of hot water to take the cold edge off them.
3 - Make sure that your bowl and beaters are spotlessly clean. Any remaining grease will prevent your meringue from whipping up to its full potential.
4 - Cream of tartar helps to set the meringue firm and is a must when you're making decorative meringue patterns like this.
5 - If your meringue won't stiffen up and can't be held upside down without moving keep whipping it until it does. Occasionally meringue just won't whip until stiff (if there is any grease from the egg yolk or on the bowl) and it will not work for a decorative pattern like this as it won't hold its shape. You can still bake and eat it, it just won't look the way you want it to.
6 - Using cornflour prevents your meringue from drying out too much. Pavlova should have a crisp outer and a soft interior.
7 - Vinegar is a stabiliser along with cream of tartar and helps the meringue hold its shape.
8 - Bake only one pavlova at a time in the centre of your oven.
9 - Do not open the door of the oven while baking your pavlova.
10 - Lastly pavlova is not an ideal item to transport and I've learned this the hard way. Once the cream, curd and fruit is added, it starts to soften the meringue. If you want to transport a pavlova, I suggest assembling it at the end location and adding the cream (you can put this in a piping bag, just don't snip the end) and fruit just before serving.
Which type of cream? I usually use thickened cream as I have it on hand. Thickened cream is pure cream with a bit of gelatine or thickeners added to it to make it easier to whip up. Generally I don't sweeten the cream in my pavlovas. The meringue is sweet and so is the curd so I like a bit of balance but feel free to add 2 tablespoons icing sugar or vanillin sugar if you want it sweet.
I always think of my childhood when I think of pavlovas. Our first house when we were really small had a business called Pavlova Pantry in the same suburb. By coincidence our home telephone number was one number off the Pavlova Pantry's so we would occasionally get someone calling for them. I always had plans on pranking these people and telling them that a herd of cats had broken in and demolished their supply of pavlovas but I was too well behaved (the misbehaving would come later).
This phone was a lifeline to my friends and my social life and for a while before I got my own pink phone extension it was the only place I could have a conversation but the problem was it was located in the lounge room. The cord wasn't quite long enough to reach into another room so everyone could always hear what you were saying as the family crowded around the television watching A Country Practice or whatever was on at the time. I would often overhear my mother say, "I don't like to speak ill of them but..." and knew that that was always the prelude to a massive gossip session.
I knew they were listening to me although my mother said indignantly, "I'm not interested in your conversation!". On one call I decided to test that. I told my friend that I didn't like pavlova because it was "made out of eggs and that they had come out of a chicken's bum." My mother scolded me for using the word bum. "I knew you were listening!" I said.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like pavlovas? What food reminds you of your childhood?
Spring Pavlova With Blood Orange
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
120g/4.2ozs (around 4 eggs worth) egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
300g/10.6ozs caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vinegar
500ml/17flozs pure cream
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
Blood Orange Curd
3 egg yolks
125g/4ozs caster sugar
125ml/4flozs. cup blood orange juice
65g/2.3ozs. butter, cubed
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and edible flowers
Step 1 - Pavlova is best made the day before. Line a baking tray with parchment and trace a rectangular or round shape that will fit your plate (mine was 26x19cm or 10.2x7.4inches). The pavlova will spread around 1/2 an inch so keep that in mind. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Start whisking until soft peaks form. Then add the sugar in a stream and then add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk until it is very firm and glossy and you can tip the bowl upside down without the meringue moving.
Step 2 - Scoop into a piping bag fitted with a 1A tip and pipe across the parchment. Place large balls on the outside and stripes on the inside making sure there are no gaps. You will need to double the layer of meringue in the centre. To flatten down the tip on the balls, wet fingers and gently press down to smooth. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes turning down the heat to 130C/266F straight away. Cool the pavlova in the oven overnight.
Step 3 - Make the blood orange curd. This is fastest in the microwave. Whisk the egg yolks, caster sugar and juice in a large bowl. Add the butter cubes and then microwave on high in 1 minute bursts whisking in between intervals. It will be ready when you whisk it and lots of bubbles emerge. It will seem too liquid but don't worry it will thicken up on cooling.
Step 4 - Whip the cream using a whisk attachment until billowy. Add the orange blossom water and whip to combine.
Step 5 - Place meringue on serving plate. Pipe cream on top and then add blood orange curd (I used around 2/3 of the quantity made above). Decorate with edible flowers and fruit.