Welcome back to Pavlova Week! French Silk was just the beginning. Today we have lemon and blueberry, that quintessential summer combination. My boyfriend thinks it’s THE best flavor combination, so you’ll have to try it to see if you agree with him. This pavlova is light and refreshing, airy but creamy at the same time. It’s the ideal picnic dessert – it’s the ideal picnic meal. Seriously, a glass of champagne (or prosecco, or pimms, or a gin and tonic) in hand, a paper plate and a plastic fork and you are set for the best picnic you’ve ever had.
You may have noticed from the pictures that this pavlova is white, the traditional color for a pav. No cocoa powder here; instead, the vinegar is replaced with lemon juice. If you would like an extra lemony kick, you can also add about half a teaspoon lemon extract. It’s a fairly common flavor, so you should be able to find it next to the vanilla in your local grocery store. The real lemon in this pavlova, however, does not come from the pavlova itself. There’s a tasty surprise in the center: lemon curd.
To be honest, you don’t need to flavor the pavlova with lemon, because the curd is going to do it all for you. There is something really wonderful about the combination of pavlova and curd. They are entirely different textures and flavors. Pavlova is subtle and light, beautifully soft, so delicate you may as well actually be eating cloud. On Monday, for the French Silk, I described the inner layer as marshmallow, which is the usual term to use. Perhaps that was true of a pavlova with the addition of cocoa powder, but I would not describe this pavlova that way. If you breathe too heavily, the inner fluff here might float away. After making two pavlovas a day for almost three weeks, I finally feel as though I have broken through on what makes a good pavlova, and this is it.
Curd, however, is totally different. I have mixed feelings about curd, but it needs to be on this pavlova. It was born to be on this pavlova. Kidding. The point is that the creamy sharpness of the curd and the sweet burst of blueberries combined with the soft fluff of the pavlova all work together to make this one of the most interesting and flavorful things I’ve ever made. The bonus is that making pavlova requires all egg whites, and making curd requires egg yolks, so you don’t need to waste anything.
You may also have noticed something unusual about the blueberries as well. They’re darker than the average blueberry, glossy midnight blue instead of bright and berry-like. That’s because they’ve been glazed!
When you toss blueberries in a hot pan with an easy sugar-based syrup, it turns them this gorgeous deep blue. Have I explained yet how much I love the color blue? I love the color blue. I adore the color blue. I’d keep going, but we’d get off topic. The point is, this is such a simple extra thing you can do to really make your pavlova look stunning. The glaze doesn’t actually cook the blueberries, it just turns them this color and then it encases them, so they have this bright shock of sweetness when you bite into them. Truly delicious, and it only requires about ten more minutes of your time.
There is one final surprise I haven’t mentioned yet: this pavlova isn’t the same shape as the last one. It’s actually a wreath, with the curd filling the hole in the center and the blueberries covering the curd. This means that the curd, which runs more than cream does, doesn’t go sliding over the side and off the plate. That would be a huge mess and look awful. There’s nothing different about making the meringue for the wreath. When you’re spooning out the meringue on the tray, just make sure to give yourself enough space that it won’t spread to cover the whole in the center, but also isn’t large enough that it won’t fit on the serving dish. I drew a circle on the parchment for the size of my serving dish, and then another one that was 20 cm, the size of one of the white plates in the picture below. I tried to follow the smaller circle with the wreath, which gave me a hole of about two inches in the middle, but left just enough room on the dish.
As with our french silk friend, when making pavlovas, always remember:
- If you’ve got one, use a stand mixer. You can do it with a hand mixer, but it’ll take a while, and you can do it by hand, but again, it’ll take a while.
- No grease or egg yolk in the mixing bowl! Make sure it’s clean and dry. Crack the eggs into another bowl and add the whites one by one so you don’t accidentally contaminate the other five whites with your last yolk.
- Mix the whites until they hold a small peak – but not super stiff, you don’t want to over beat them and have them separate.
- Add the caster sugar slowly. If you shove it all in at once, the whites will drop.
- Beat the whites and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved, and no further – you’ll know when this is if you pinch a bit of mix between your fingers. It needs to feel smooth, no grainy bits.
- When the sugar is incorporated, the mix should stand up when you pull the whisk away.
- Mix the lemon juice and cornstarch together before you put them in. It helps them blend better. Put them in at the very end with whatever flavoring you’re adding, and then mix them all in by hand, just enough to combine.
One last bonus picture, and then you can go forth and bake! Impress your friends and make your enemies jealous with your pavlova prowess!
Bake Time: 1½ hrs
Prep Time: 30 mins
For the pavlova:
6 egg whites (room temperature is best)
365g caster sugar
½ tsp lemon or vanilla extract
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp lemon juice
For the curd (I actually hate making curd):
- You can buy it from the store. I get mine from Condiment.
- You can use this recipe from King Arthur, which makes it in a microwave.
- Or try this recipe from Fine Cooking.
For the blueberry glaze (This recipe is from Mary Levy Beranbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible):
2 ½ cups · 284 grams blueberries, washed and dried
2 tsp cornstarch
¼ cup · 50 grams sugar
⅓ liquid cup · 79 grams water
1 tsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 275 F. Line a large baking tray with parchment and draw a circle about 20cm across. Draw another circle the size of your serving dish. Flip the parchment over so the ink is facing down.
- Measure out your ingredients first. Mix the lemon juice and cornstarch together.
- In the bowl of your mixer, crack in six egg whites – do them in a separate bowl to make sure you don’t get any yolks in.
- Turn on the mixer to about half speed – I use 4 – and watch as the whites go opaque and fluffy. When the whites are full of small air bubbles and they hold a small peak, begin adding the caster sugar/cocoa powder slowly.
- The mixture will become glossy and sticky. Check for when the sugar has been fully dissolved by rubbing it between your fingers. If it’s grainy, it’s not done yet.
- When the sugar has dissolved, stop mixing. The meringue mix won’t be stiff enough to hold the bowl over someone’s head, but it will be thick with very little movement – it will hold its shape in stiff peaks. I’ve found that continuing to whip after the sugar goes in leads to over-whipping, and that you get a softer, fluffier inside this way.
- Take the bowl out of the mixer and pour in the lemon juice/cornstarch and optional extract. Give it an easy mix by hand just to combine.
- Spoon the mix onto the parchment in a ring. Try to keep it on the 20cm circle, and run a knife up the sides to support the pavlova. Try not to let the middle close up.
- Put the pav in the oven and turn it down to 225 F. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
- When the time is up, do NOT open the oven door. Just turn the oven off and leave it in for at least two hours. After that, prop the oven door open with a spoon, and an hour later you can take it out. The pavlova will survive at room temperature for about two days, so it can be made ahead of time.
- Make or buy the curd and spoon it into the middle of the pavlova. Try not to put in so much that it drips down the sides. I suppose you could do that, but serve it before the curd reaches the bottom of the pavlova.
- To make the glaze, set a bowl with a colander to the side of your stove. Stir cornstarch and sugar in a medium saucepan. Add the water and lemon juice and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. The mix will become clear and coat the back of a spoon. Remove pan from heat. Add blueberries and toss them in the glaze, then put them in the colander to drain away the extra glaze. When the berries are cool, arrange them on top of the curd and serve.
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