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Monday, December 12, 2011

O Happy Day~ recipe for a Winter Birthday Pavlova

Uh-Oh, a birthday with a big "0" in it.
And this close to Christmas, too!

Like all the Saggittarians I know, my lovely husband is a happy-go-lucky adventurer with his hands in as many pies as possible.

There was no way he was going to be left out of his Own plans for a birthday celebration!

Saggittarians are strong-willed and usually sociable.  But when there's something on their minds they can be impossible to cajole from their caves.  Such was the affliction here and we found that this saggy-trousers didn't want to share with friends or family much- well- at all, on his special day.  No party??? Oh, the curse of the "0" birthday!

Happily we both got inspired by a traditional Aussie recipe celebrated this time of year down under.  Importing it to the Isle of Man seemed an ideal alternative to a Winter Sun escape...

To make a PAVLOVA is so beautifully simple that even I, who quavers under the responsibility of making a pretty cake from scratch, let alone a BIRTHDAY cake, was doing jim-jiminies in the kitchen.

Thankyou to beautiful friends who encouraged me to make D's birthday beautifully simple and personally special.  Without your lovely suggestions- which I'll be sharing in another post!- I'd have been swept into the ocean of "not doing enough".  Instead, the day was perfectly fulfilling.  I hope you'll make a pavlova on a special day for your loved one, too!

Winter Pav.

You'll need:

  • 6 free-range eggs, seperated (whites needed only)
  • 1 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tsps cornflour
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 teapoon vanilla essence
  • 300ml double or whipping cream (please choose organic proen to be better for our health and the planet) 
  • Selection of soft fruits to decorate (Down Under they favour kiwis, bananas and passionfruit puree.  Here I used pomegranates, sliced mango, banana and strawberries)
  1. In a clean dry bowl beat the egg whites til soft peaks form
  2. Slowly add the sugar one small pour at a time (I'd like to experiment next time by adding less sugar) and mix til just combined
  3. When all the sugar is beaten in, add the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract
  4. Spoon the mixture on to a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Spoon it into a round shape (you can trace a circle onto the baking parchment using a cake tin)  Alert:  it will keep round but may also expand widthways as well as upwards so allow plenty of extra paper at the sides.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated to 120 degrees C oven for 1 and a half hours or until firm to the touch.
  6. Once firm, turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool completely in the oven with the door ajar.
  7. Whip the cream and slice the fruits prettily for decoration.
  8. Once the meringue base is cool, spoon the whipped cream over the base
  9. decorate with the fresh fruits and serve immediately.

~  To easily de-seed a pomegranate, soak it in a bowl filled with cold water for 5-10 minutes. Thank you Hannah Marcotti for this tip!  If you're the sort of darling that needs extra info, here is a resource for you.

~  Use a spatula to make round swirls n the meringue before placing it in the oven, looks so pretty upon finale.

~  Did you know, though high in sugar, this is a health conscious dessert?  Filled with fruit, wheat and gluten-free, and high in protein.  Enjoy in moderation!

~ What to do with the left over egg-yolks?  here's a recipe for a unique "Gold Cake" -you'll need a flour substitute if you're gluten-sensitive.  What about a healthy mayonnaise without additives ; a rich custard for a child who doesn't like eggs, or a delicious crustless quiche to use up lots of wilting green vegetables you've got hanging around?  What's your favourite recipe using eggs? Do share!

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