I love baking and cooking in general. I’m not always very good at it, and more often than not you’ll find my creations on #PinterestFails rather than Pinterest 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, they always taste pretty good, presentation, however…Let’s just say that they should be served with a generous helping of artistic license! So when Al Jazira Poultry Farm approached me about participating in their Golden Pavlova challenge I was equal parts excited and nervous. Pavlovas are traditionally decadent and exquisitely beautiful both traits which I associate with tricky and finicky. Turns out, that while being rather time-consuming, it is pretty simple to make and much more satisfying than a store-bought variety!
- 6 Egg whites (room temperature)
- 1,5 cups of white sugar
- 2 Tablespoons corn flour (corn starch)
- 1/2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 120 degrees Celcius. To be honest, I’ve seen so many temperature variations and combinations. Some seem to have graduated temperature profiles akin to mashing cycles in a brewery, but when you’re a mom juggling kids and baking, go for simple, you’re less likely to screw it up!
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper (baking paper). I drew out a circle the size I wanted my pavlovas to be on the underside of the paper with a marker. In this case, I traced a plate for the large one and 2 glasses for the smaller ones. This will ensure that they come out the shape and size you want. A simple trick here is to remember to dollop a small amount of your egg white mixture when it’s ready, to the underside of the baking paper and then “stick” it to your baking tray. This will stop the parchment from sliding around while you’re shaping your meringue base!
- Beat the egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. No fancy schmancy food processors required trust me, just make sure your bowl (glass or stainless steel) is super clean and dry when you start as any oil/fat residue will prevent the egg whites from stiffening up properly. My Grandmother always insists that you should clean the bowl out with a lemon sliced in half to make sure there is no grease and everyone knows Grannies know best so I stuck with that one!
- Once you have soft peaks, slowly add the sugar, one spoon at a time. Slow and steady here does the trick. I am not a patient person, but in this case, it’s needed. Once the sugar is in, you will notice the mixture becomes super glossy, it looks amazing! If you want to make sure all the sugar is dissolved, take a small amount and rub it between your fingers. If it feels grainy, keep mixing! It should feel smooth. When you have the right texture, add the lemon juice and keep mixing.
- Fold in the vanilla extract and the corn flour until mixed through. Do this as gently as possible to keep the fluffiness.
- Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper (don’t forget to “stick it down”! This is where you start to get creative. You can choose to pipe the mixture and create beautiful patterns or you can dollop it on for a more rustic, casual feel. When you have the general shape, use a spoon to create a bit of an indentation or “nest” in the middle as it helps keep the toppings in later!
- Bake for 1 hour – I know, it seems forever! I had to set an alarm or I would have gotten distracted by the kids 🙂 After an hour, the meringue should get a light brown colour to it. The outside will be crispy and the middle like marshmallow but judge its readiness by the colour rather than opening the oven and letting the warm air out.
- Turn off the oven and let the meringue sit until it cools down…as in completely…don’t cheat!
- You want to add the toppings just before serving (to keep the top crisp) so if you need to stop, this is the time to do it. You can keep the meringue in an airtight container or wrapped in cling wrap (be gentle) for a day or so. I made mine, the night before so I had time to repeat if I got it horribly wrong 🙂
- Decorate as your heart (and guests) desire!
Traditionally, Pavlovas are topped with whipped cream (about 250 ml will be enough for a 6 egg dessert) and fresh berries but I have a super fussy eater who immediately began to frown when I mentioned raspberries and blueberries so I made a mini version with marshmallows, toasted almonds, Maltesers and chocolate drizzle. The only thing holding you back is supplies and your imagination! You can substitute the cream for lemon curd or custard and the fruit can be whatever is seasonally available.
I admit, if not for the @goldeneggs_aljazira #goldenpavlova challenge I would never have plucked up the guts to try one out. Turns out it’s not all that tricky provided you have the right ingredients and considering it’s a meringue recipe fresh eggs are probably a must 😉 and we honestly love the Al Jazira eggs range.
Big thank you to Al Jazira Poultry Farms who provided the eggs and the inspiration to get creative in the kitchen! Let me know what your favourite Pavlova toppings are in the comments.