Our favourite pavlova, made with the best of the summer fruit and special enough for Christmas.
If you have a warm Christmas, as we do, you can leave the heavy pudding for some other time. Bring on the pav - always in fashion, always delicious - here made with the best of the summer fruit. If you can't find good, fragrant, fully ripe nectarines, you can use peaches, or simply load it up with a mix of berries.
- 6 eggs, separated
- 360g (12¾ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
- a few drops of natural vanilla essence
- 375g (13oz) mascarpone
- 200ml (7 fl oz) pure cream (35% fat), lightly whipped
- 2-3 drops rosewater (optional)
- 3 tablespoons icing (confectioners') sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 300g (10½ oz) raspberries
- 100g (3½ oz) blackcurrants
- 50g (1¾ oz) sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 250ml (9fl oz/1 cup) lemon curd
- 2 peaches, sliced
- 100g blueberries or silvanberries, or both
Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F). Beat the eggwhites until soft peaks form, whisk in the sugar, then the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla essence. The mixture should be stiff by now. Tip onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and use a spatula to form a steep-sided round, 6 cm (2½ inch) high and 25 cm (10 inches) diameter. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 140°C (275°F) and bake for about 90 minutes, checking that it doesn’t brown too much – if at all – and turning down the oven further as need be. Allow to cool in the turned-off oven (some modern ovens may need to be wedged open so the meringue doesn’t sweat).
Combine the mascarpone, cream, rosewater (if using), icing sugar and seeds scraped from the vanilla bean. Stir well, taking care not to over whip or the mixture will split. Heat half the raspberries over a gentle heat to break them down into a sauce. Allow to cool and stir, in one or two quick motions, into the mascarpone mixture so it’s kind of rippled.
Heat the blackcurrants with the sugar and the water in a small saucepan over a high heat to melt and soften. When fruit is soft, press through a sieve and discard solids. Spread lemon curd over the top of the pav, cover with the mascarpone mixture, then garnish with sliced peaches, the remaining raspberries, the blueberries and silvanberries if you have them. Drizzle on the blackcurrant syrup to serve.