Cape gooseberry pavlova, elderflower cream

Cape gooseberry pavlova, elderflower cream

By
From
Finding Fire
Serves
6–8

There is something truly magical about the simplicity and delight of pavlova. It was a treat when I was growing up, and is the one dish that I've never been able to make as well as my mother, despite all my wild attempts. As a child, I was as fascinated by the process as much as the beauty of the finished pudding. My mother would always make pavlova just before going to bed, whipping the egg whites and sugar to dreamy cloud-like peaks before slow-baking in the oven. Dressed in her robe, she would sit up and wait with a cup of tea and a crossword, turning the oven off after an hour, strictly forbidding the oven door to be opened until the morning. Once served, the dry and crisp exterior would shatter, giving way to the mallowy middle.

The intense heat and dryness of a wood-fired oven provides the ideal conditions for the perfect meringue. Cape gooseberries have a vibrant sweet sourness and a ripe earthiness that pairs well with this sugary meringue.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the pavlova

Quantity Ingredient
250g egg whites
375g caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)

For the cape gooseberry fool

Quantity Ingredient
150ml full-cream (whole) milk
2 egg yolks
30g sugar
300g cape gooseberries
150ml thick (double) cream
50ml Elderflower cordial
fresh elderflowers (optional)

Method

  1. 1. Start a fire in your wood-fired oven and bring the heat to 120°C (250°F). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. 2. Prepare the pavlova. Whisk the egg whites with 50 g (13/4 oz) of the caster sugar until soft peaks form. Continue whisking, gradually adding the remaining sugar in stages until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is glossy, thick and stiff. Add the vinegar and gently fold through the cornflour.
  3. 3. Spoon the mixture onto the tray and place in the back of the wood-fired oven. Bake for approximately 11/2 hours.
  4. 4. Move the pavlova from the back of the oven to the front and leave the door open a crack to allow a small amount of air to escape. Leave the pavlova to sit for at least 6 hours, or overnight if possible, to allow it to set and dry sufficiently.
  5. 5. Prepare the custard base for the fool. Heat the milk in a small saucepan. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until creamy. Pour the egg yolks over the hot milk, whisking continuously, then strain into a clean saucepan and cook over a gentle heat until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  6. 6. Grill 200 g (7 oz) of the cape gooseberries in a fine-mesh sieve until slightly smoky and bursting. Transfer to a bowl and break up lightly using a fork to create a rough paste.
  7. 7. Whip the double cream to soft peaks with the elderflower cordial. Carefully fold in the gooseberry paste and the custard, creating a rippled effect. Transfer to a container and chill.
  8. 8. Before serving, grill the remaining cape gooseberries in the same way as above.
  9. 9. Serve the pavlova with the gooseberry elderflower fool, top with grilled cape gooseberries and, if using, elderflowers.
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