A couple of weeks ago I left a wish on Gluttony for Beginner's blog post and as a result was visited by the magical, mystical Fairy Hobmother aka David from Appliances Online. The Fairy Hobmother has been floating around the blogosphere lately granting wishes left, right and centre.
I was kindly sent an Amazon voucher which I excitedly splurged on new cookbooks to keep me going while my own are packed away. I bought Michel Roux's three books on Pastry, Eggs and Sauces and Nigella Lawson's How To Eat.
The Roux books are beautiful and contain recipes from the simplest of egg dishes to the most complicated pastry creations. The Nigella book I've only skimmed so far but I've already got my on a couple of recipes to try out on the Beau and the rest of my family in the not too distant future.
The best part about the Fairy Hobmother visiting me though is that now you have the chance to be visited too! Leave a comment at the end of the post with a wish for the Fairy Hobmother and you too could have a sprinkling of fairy dust in your life.
To celebrate this I thought I would put up the recipe for that most fairy like of desserts, Pavlova, named for the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. This is Michel Roux's recipe taken from his Eggs book.
Just a quick note that I have almost halved the amount of cream that M. Roux asks for, as I thought that 400ml of cream would be a little on the heavy side. I have also allowed you to pick your own berries. Personally, I used a mixture of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and red currants, but you can use whatever you have on hand.
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks. I used an electric hand whisk but you can do it by hand with a balloon whisk or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
Measure out the caster sugar and gradually add to the egg whites, whisking all the time, until the egg whites are smooth, shiny and form stiff peaks.
Michel recommends that you whisk it for 10 mins after adding the caster sugar, but my mixer was in danger of overheating and dying so I only did it for 5 without any ill effects to the final product that I could detect.
Sieve in the icing sugar to the egg white mix and whisk together until it's thoroughly incorporated. Start slowly or you'll end up with a cloud of icing sugar in the kitchen.
Take a baking tray and line with parchment or greaseproof paper.
Pour out the meringue mixture onto the baking tray into a rough circle approximately 20 cm in diameter and 5 cm high. Place into the oven for 30 mins.
After the 30 mins turn down the oven to 120°C and bake for another 45 mins.
After the 45 mins, turn off the oven and leave the meringue in the oven for at least 6 - 8 hours or overnight. According to Michel Roux the perfect pavlova should be:
...half-cooked in the middle, crisp on the outside, and the edges should be slightly cracked.
After a minimum of 6 hours or, in my case the next day, take the meringue out of the oven, carefully remove the paper from the bottom of it and put on the serving plate you want to use.
Whip up the cream until it forms soft peaks.
Spread the cream over the top of the pavlova and start decorating with the berries.
If you are using strawberries; remove the green top and chop into smaller pieces before adding to the top of the pavlova.
Once you have added all your fruit to the top of the pavlova, serve in generous slices this is not something you can just eat a small bit of.
Don't forget to leave a comment for the Fairy Hobmother, who may come and visit you next!