Recipe: Summer fruits pavlova
This is a brilliant recipe (thanks, Mum) that can use up almost any quantity of any fruit you have to hand. If you're vegan, you can use chickpea water (aquafaba) to make the meringue- though they do taste a little bit beany if you're used to egg ones. I've not found a vegan cream substitute that I like so can't recommend one- but just the fruit and meringue is delicious as a dessert, anyway.
If you'd like to get hold of lots of eggs, a good way to do it is to rehome some ex-commercial hens which are otherwise destined for slaughter as they have finished laying at commercial rates: They usually still lay lots of eggs for a couple of years and will mostly eat kitchen scraps (or your favourite plants...) so are pretty eco friendly. The British Hen Welfare Trust and Fresh Start for Hens organise rehoming days- they're organising pickups for chooks at the moment if you'd like to get some feathery friends soon!
Ingredients (serves 10)
For the meringue
6 egg whites
375g sugar (it works with caster or granulated sugar)
1tsp white wine vinegar (optional)
1tsp cornflour (optional)
1tsp vanilla essence (optional)
For the whipped cream
500ml double or whipping cream
For the fruit
A minimum of 500g, up to a couple of kg, of summer fruits of any kinds you like- strawberries, raspberries, red, white or blackcurrants, blueberries, blackberries...
Sugar, to taste (not really needed with strawberries etc, but if you're using large quantities of blackcurrants you're probably going to need extra sugar).
You will also need
A large bowl
Two small bowls
A baking tray
Baking parchment (optional, but helps to avoid ending up with the meringue welded onto the tray)
An electric whisk (technically, you can make meringues by whisking with a fork. I have done this and strongly recommend NOT doing it, unless you really want a lengthy upper body workout)
A fork or knife to crack the eggs
Pre-heat your oven to 120 degrees C
Separate the eggs over one of the small bowls, adding the whites one at a time to the big bowl so you can ensure you don't end up with shell or broken yolk (or gone off egg) in your main egg white bowl.
Put the egg yolks in the fridge- they're good for making custards or can be used to glaze any sort of dough, put into muffins, soups or scones or... forgotten for a few days then thrown out. Try not to do the last one...
Whisk the egg whites until they stand in peaks when you lift the whisk out- make sure the whisk is off when you lift it out or it will spray egg everywhere!
Gradually add the sugar and any of the optional ingredients that you're using (the vanilla is for flavouring; the cornflour and vinegar are supposed to stabilise the meringue structure), still whisking. The mixture should end up stiff and shiny
Spoon into a bowl-shape on baking parchment on your baking tray.
Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the meringue looks crunchy and a bit golden.
Switch the oven off and leave the meringue in it to cool.
While the meringue is cooling, whisk the cream in one of the small bowls until it is just stiff- take care not to accidentally turn it to butter, as it's a LOT faster to whisk than the egg whites. If you see the colour going yellower or, even worse, yellow bits appearing, stop right away! It will still be OK to use, though. Put it in the fridge until you need it.
When you're almost ready to serve, cover the dip in the meringue with fruit, then spoon the cream over the top. Then top with more fruit
If you like, you can lightly microwave extra fruit with a bit of sugar to spoon over the top of the pavlova as it is served out- as shown on the photo at the top.