Monday, 13 June 2011

Strawberry Pavlova

Recipe Number Forty Nine:  Page 356.

This is another recipe chosen by my sister Toria. She had been tempted by the cheesecakes but, after much deliberation, she decided on a pavlova, I think she was swayed by the picture in the book; it does look wonderful. I have never made a pavlova before so was feeling a little daunted, but at least I didn't have to pipe the meringue! I did feel a little reassured as I'd made meringues a few weeks ago; a pavlova and meringue are essentially the same thing if you ask me.

I had trouble breaking the eggs into Mum's plastic mixing bowl. It was impossible to break the shell on the sides of the bowl therefore I had to use the edge of a glass instead. Once all the egg whites were in the bowl, I could use Mum's electric whisk. Yes, she has brought a whisk. I was in shock for several days after hearing the news! But there was a problem; the whisk wouldn't work. As I had used it for the English cherry cake just an hour before, the blame had to lie with me. Mum was very kind and told me it was only a cheap one and she still had the receipt, but I still feel bad! What wonderful timing that it chose to break down when I needed to whip the egg whites! Neil saved the day yet again by finding a balloon whisk and whisking the egg whites for me. Within a few minutes he had managed to create the required stiff consistency; his face was rather red from all the effort! I had started giving our little boy his lunch by this time, so Neil said he would whisk in the sugar a teaspoon at time. The next problem was prizing Neil away from the bowl of meringue as he wanted to finish the job! All I was left to do was mix some cornflour and white wine vinegar together and whisk it in at the end.

I had placed some greaseproof paper onto a baking sheet and drawn a nine inch circle onto the paper. It was fairly easy to spread the meringue within my very rough outline. I made sure I built up the sides of the meringue. It was in the oven for a while as it needed to cook for an hour, then be left in the oven to cool. My mum loves meringue and pavlova so I wasn't surprised that she appeared as I was taking the glorious creation out of the oven. But that meant she was also there to witness my putting my thumb through the delicate shell of the crisp edge! I was so cross with myself; I should have been more careful. I couldn't get the greaseproof paper to peel off without causing more damage. One side wasn't too bad but the other was all broken, sob! Mum said it looked fine and, once the cream and strawberries were added, you wouldn’t notice. This didn't make me feel any better though, as I remember a time when I left the sugar out of a cake and she told me it was delicious!! She kindly helped me by cutting off the excess greaseproof paper. We decided to leave the meringue stuck to the paper, as trying to peel it off was proving stressful!

I managed to whisk up the double cream myself, although it took me a while. I could manage a burst of frantic whisking, but this was followed by heavy breathing and the flapping of my right arm in order to give it a rest before starting again! Now completely out of puff, I piled the cream to the dipped middle of the broken meringue. I then added my dad's sliced home-grown strawberries. I presume the meringue had now become a pavlova due the addition of the cream and fruit. It was impossible for me to cut this without causing more damage! But it did taste good, VERY good! Toria seemed to enjoy it as did the rest of the family. Crisp with a chewy centre, the naughtiness of the double cream and the sweetness of the strawberries - heaven in a bowl! I certainly can't take all the credit as Neil did most of the work; the man did good!  

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