Thursday, 8 August 2013


I am reminding myself that it is still summer.

Last night, just before bed, I went outside to put away the toys left in the garden and lock up the garage. It was a clear, starry night and there was a faintly woody smell and quite a distinct nip in the air and I thought, hmm, autumn is coming. Not now, not tomorrow, but it's on it's way. The garden is starting to take on a slightly faded, frazzled look as though colour is beginning to fade from the leaves and it all looks less lush than it did a month ago.

Now, I love autumn, I really do, it's by far and away my favourite season. But summer (which, this year, has been pretty fantastic) is not over yet and so let's talk about pavlova. 

I do think of pavlova as a summery desert (although there is no reason why it should be) mainly because it's a wonderful way to show of fresh soft fruits and just let them shine in all their seasonal glory, rather than cooking them or mixing them with other things. It is perfect in it's simplicity; meringue, cream, fruit. Nothing else is needed, except maybe a spoon. It's also a handy recipe for when you're cooking for people as the meringue can be made up to one day in advance then you just need to whip the cream and assemble it when you're ready to serve.

My meringue recipe was copied out and given to me by my mum when I left home and I still have that same, splattered piece of paper tucked into my recipes folder. It's a keeper. It makes the most perfect meringue as the centre remains soft and marshmallowy, not dry and crispy like shop-bought meringue. I like my meringues soft and chewy, almost gooey, inside.

You will need:

4 egg whites. 
8 oz or 225 grams sugar. (I use white sugar - golden or unrefined sugar will give you a darker, creamier coloured meringue and a toffee flavour.)
2 tsps cornflour.
1 tsp vinegar.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
½ pint or 300 ml whipping or double cream.
Lots of fresh fruit. I used around 14 oz/ 400 grams of strawberries, hulled and halved here but use whatever is in season or to hand. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries will look and taste glorious together. 

To make:

Preheat your oven to 120°C (100°C fan) or 250°F.

Separate your eggs taking care that not even the tiniest bit of yolk gets into your whites. (A very good tip my mum wrote down is to separate each egg into a cup or small bowl first then transfer to the big mixing bowl, to prevent that little bit of yolk writing off the whole recipe and causing you to start again.)

Whisk your egg whites until stiff - either in a mixer or with a hand-held electric whisk. This should take around 1 minute.

Add the sugar very gradually, a tablesoon at a time, whisking steadily throughout. If you add all the sugar at once it will knock all that precious air out of the egg whites.

Beat again for another couple of minute until it looks glossy and shiny. Turn the mixer down and, while beating slowly, add the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Beat again thoroughly. 

Your meringe mixture should be quite firm now, so that you could form peaks in it. If you were to hold the bowl over your head, none would fall from the bowl. I did actually make John take a photo of me doing just this for illustrative purposes but thankfully sanity (and vanity - hello bingo wings!) prevailed and I deleted it.

Line a baking sheet with greaseproof/baking paper. A little meringue mixture in each corner will help the paper stay in place. Dollop the mixture onto the paper and form into a rough circle. I like to mound mine up around the edge and create a well in the centre for the cream, others like theirs to be perfectly smooth and straight - it's up to you.

Bake for two hours. When the oven timer beeps, turn off the oven and, ideally, leave the meringue inside until the oven is cold - this will help it cool slowly and prevent cracks.

When it's cool, peel of the paper and slide it onto a plate. Whip up your cream and pile it into the centre of the meringue.

Pile up your fruit on top of the cream.

This photo is not great but it does show off the soft and gooey centre of the meringue. It's not an easy desert to slice and present elegantly, but it makes up for this in flavour and texture.

This should feed six or eight and you'll need to eat it fairly quickly, within 24 hours I'd say, or else the combination of soft meringue, cream and fruit will create a soggy mess. 


  1. I love a chewy meringue. This time of year always has a nip in the air. I remember Reading festivals of years gone past when it would be dark and cold of an evening, even though there was glorious days and that was the bank holiday August weekend. I am looking forward to switching off during our week in France.

  2. That looks delicious. I made my first mini meringues recently and was surprised at how easy and tasty they were.

  3. Gillian, take a look at my recent post about featuring colour, you will see my pineapple and ginger pavlova. I use golden caster sugar which gives a great taste! Yours looks great too.

  4. I really like pavlova. I haven't made one in a few years but I remember it being surprisingly easy the first few times I tried it. I should do it again soon. Yours looks lovely.

  5. mmmmmmmmmm I love pavlova!
    It's been ages since I had anything as beautifully presented as yours but we often put meringue, ice cream and fruit together for a sort of eton mess. yum!

  6. Oh yes! This looks scrumptious. I just put a recipe for Rhubarb Fool (Eton Mess) on my blog. Your recipe and my recipe are almost interchangeable - and such summery things to make!

  7. My goodness what a creation! I have never seen this kind of dessert. I am certain my husband would have no time devouring it in less than 24 or 2 hours!

  8. Now Gillian that looks delicious, wish I could just reach in and grab some! Yes there are changes but like you I'm refusing to accept them....boy this summer has been good!!! :) x

  9. I have never had this dessert but I Hear that its delicious, I'm not much of a baker, anything I do is just fun stuff with the kids, but seeing this makes me want to have a go...
    Have a great weekend,

  10. Yum, this looks delicious. I love meringue but my daughter is less keen so we don't have it very often. I use your trick of breaking an egg in a separate dish for everything just in case one has gone bad. I've noticed the inevitable signs of the seasons changing too particulalrly with the mornings and evenings drawing in - I'm not ready for summer to be over though! x

  11. Delicious. I've been making blackcurrant Eton Mess (blackcurrant glut!) and I always like to find a small boy's head to hold the bowl over. It is important not to let the small boy do the whipping and decide at what point to hold the bowl upside down though...

  12. Hi Gillian,You make it look so easy!!!I have tried meringues several times and have had no success!!! I am going to give your recipe a try next time I have a crowd of people over!!!Wonder if the sugar could be replaced with SugaLite and if it would be the same??!!!Will let you know then!!!!Have a wonderful weekend!!!

  13. This looks beautiful, I love pavlova but have never made meringue before. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    I am not ready for autumn yet either....
    Marianne x

  14. Yes - I think Autumn is just around the corner.
    What a coincidence. I made pavlova (for the first time) last night! Mine is to be filled with a chocolate orange mousse type mixture for pudding tonight with friends.
    I'm not sure it will hang around long enough to go soggy! x

  15. Ooooh Gillian, your pavlova looks absolutely delish!
    Another pudding I love with meringue is Eton Mess ;)

    Caroline xxx

  16. Mmmmm, I love a nice meringue and this looks just perfect! Will definitely be trying this out, thanks for sharing with us ... don't worry about the 24 hours thingy, it'll be lucky to last ten minutes in this house, especially if it looks as good as yours!

    Have a fabulous weekend

    Love Claire xxx

  17. Chewy marshmallowy meringue ... just heavenly ... your meringue looks delicious ... you could make an autumn one with pear, chocolate and hazelnut ... so delicious too ... Bee xx

  18. I really must not read posts like this when on a diet ... all I can think is, I want some of that yummy Pavlova! And brownies, because I was just reading someone else's post about those. Blogs should come with a health warning!

  19. Ooooh scrummy, my mouth is watering :) x

  20. Oh my word... I have never had any luck with meringues like that but if you say this recipe is the biz, then I'll give it a whirl! Thanks for sharing Gillian x

  21. Possibly my favourite ever dessert - and that one looks stunning.

    You are right about autumn - I caught myself pulling a throw over my legs last night. A few more weeks of summer please though - I'm no ready to let go just yet.

  22. I,too,detected a definite whiff of autumn in the air (yes!)the other day. Pavlova (raspberry and passionfruit)was my mum's favourite pud. Looking at yours, I think I tend to over whip the cream.

  23. That pavlova looks amazing. I have never had much success with them but will certainly give yours a try. Thanks for sharing.

  24. This post has made me drool so much I'm going to make this for pudding tonight. yum x

  25. it's beautiful and looks so delicious! The perfect summer dessert!

  26. Oh my Gillian, this looks more than delicious and I can't wait to give it a try. Thanks for a fab post with some wonderful and mouth watering pics. Wishing you a very happy weekend xoxo

  27. One of my faves. Looks delicious too! Must give your recipe a go never made one myself always eat other people's hehe x

  28. Perfect timing - thank you! I've been looking for a recipe that creates that slightly pink creamy look and toffee taste and now I know how :-) Will make for friends coming for lunch tomorrow x


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