Here I was, all set to write up a post about our Australian Christmas when I discovered I’d already done that back in 2011. How time flies when you’re having fun!
Our feast in 2013 was quite similar to the original (after all, that is the point). This year there was a few tweaks – I grilled prawns for that delicious flavour kick and let them cool for the prawn cocktail starter. We got a Wiltshire roasted ham on the bone and I made up a ham stock with the bone and last few shreds of ham. There was also a side of creamed spinach rather than kale for a change and some oven roasted peppers (red and green, to make it festive!).
The real highlight of this year though was the pavlova. Because I was sick, I ended up making it a week later than our Aussie Christmas feast. This was probably a good thing as I struggle to eat that much food in one day!
I grew up with a real love of pavlova (I was a bit of a sugar addict – eating tins of condensed milk and spoons of icing sugar when I could!). My mum always made (and still does!) pavlova for Christmas and it was a kind of magical dessert to me, being made from so few ingredients. I’ve tried to make do with shop bought pavlova but it just doesn’t have the gooey, chewiness to it that is so important (and delicious!).
I’m glad to say that I think I have now perfected the pavlova making process and wanted to share the recipe. This is one I have adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe which is no longer online. If you’ve never made a pav, I think you should – it is really a lot more straightforward than people make out and whatever the result, it will (probably) be delicious!
4 egg whites (medium eggs)
225g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Vegetable oil for baking sheet
1. Heat the oven to 180C or 160C for a fan oven.
2. Cover a baking tray with baking paper/parchment. Drizzle around 1 tsp of vegetable oil and rub it all over the paper/parchment.
3. Whisk the egg whites with an electric beater in a large, clean bowl.
4. Once the egg whites are stiff and shiny (takes me around 3-4 minutes) then start adding the sugar. A few tablespoons at a time is fine and make sure it’s all beaten in before adding the next few tablespoons.
5. Keep going until all the sugar is added – you should whisk until it is glossy and stands up in peaks. To test, switch off the beater and pull it out of the pav in an upwards direction. Your pav should get a nice quiff if you’ve beaten it enough!
6. Add the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and give it another quick beat (10-20 seconds) to incorporate.
7. Gently pour out your pav onto the baking paper/parchment. You can use a large spoon to shape it into a circle, and I like to make the edges a bit higher than the middle for easy topping. You want the size of the pav to be about 20cm and around 5-8cms high.
8. Put the pav in the oven and turn the temperature down to 120C or 100C for a fan oven. Cook it for 1.5 hours and then turn off the oven. Some recipes say not to ever open the door, although because our light is broken I did a couple of times with no adverse effects. Just be quick about it if you’re going to do it – think like a ninja!
9. Leave the pav in the oven to cool – I probably left it for another 1.5 hours before taking it out, but you can leave it overnight depending on when you started cooking!
10. It should slide off the paper/parchment really easily thanks to the oil, and you can then pop it on a plate/tray and decorate. I like mine with berries and cream, but passionfruit is also lovely.
There – it couldn’t be simpler. I’ve read a lot of pavlova recipes in my time and they can make it so complicated with extra ingredients, rules and scaremongering. I am pretty relaxed about the whole process and haven’t had one fail yet. Yeh, sometimes they crack but you can just cover it with cream or berries!
So, are you going to give making a pavlova a go? Please post if you do!