Earlier this week I had a little procrastibaking session. You see we had a few half eaten punnets of summer fruits in the fridge and some eggs that needed using soon, so I thought ‘summer fruit pavlova…’ Coinciding with beautiful summery weather it seems the perfect way to use those fruits before they are past their best, I have a use for those that are maybe slightly softer than others that is the work of moments and oh so tasty either served this way or with your breakfast (I will explain that one!)
The first time I travelled the almost 300 miles to stay with Tony and his family – way back in the early days of our relationship – I was offered a dish affectionately known as ‘fruit slop’ to have with my breakfast cereal. It is much tastier than it’s name suggests and so easy to make that there really is no excuse to throw away fruit again. I’ve adapted it and each batch is different so the recipe is slightly inexact but it’s worth a go as it tastes like summer in a sauce!
This pavlova is best eaten soon after assembly as the sauce will soften the meringue. It’s components can be made in advance and put together just before eating. This would easily cater for 6-8 depending on portion size, maybe a couple more if children are involved.
4 egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar (I had distilled malt vinegar in the cupboard, white wine vinegar would also do)
1 tablespoon cornflour
Preheat the oven to 150ºc, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Whisk the egg whites until fluffy and white then gradually add the sugar a spoonful at a time. Once combined add the vinegar and cornflour (this creates the marshmallow centre to your meringue). Whisk until the mix stands in soft peaks as you lift the beaters. At this point tip onto your baking tray and spread to whichever shape you prefer – bear in mind it will grow slightly while baking. I have an oval plate so that is the shape I made. You could also make several smaller pavlovas. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, turn off the heat and leave in the oven for a further 30 minutes, then take your pavlova out and leave it to cool.
soft fruits – there is no right or wrong here – I used cherries, strawberries and blueberries as that is what I had in the fridge. You could also use plums, blackberries, raspberries or other similar fruit. Remember to leave some uncooked to top the pavlova with!
sugar to taste
It is difficult to give precise measurements as it will depend on the fruit you have and how sweet it is already. Wash and prepare the fruit. I halve cherries and strawberries. Plums would need quartering at least. Smaller fruits can be left whole. Put the fruit in a pan over a medium heat and soften gently. As the fruit begins to release it’s juices add your sugar. The only way to gauge how much is to taste as you cook but be careful not to burn yourself! It’ll get very hot. Keep simmering over a medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and leave the fruit to cool.
SUMMER FRUIT PAVLOVA
300ml double or whipping cream
a couple of handfuls of fruit to top
Whip the cream (you could add some vanilla paste or caster sugar if you desire) then simply spread it onto the meringue base. Carefully spoon over your cooled fruit sauce then top with fresh fruit. It may not be the most precise of dishes but it is certainly worth embracing the relaxed approach to baking here.
It really is the simplest of desserts and always popular in my house at least. Enjoy!