A special Easter dessert that’s a little bit different.
By lunchtime on Easter Sunday you might never want to see another chocolate egg again, and this lemon pavlova is a nice alternative to a chocolatey dessert – filled with fresh and zesty spring flavours and exceptionally light to boot, just in case you have overindulged on the chocolate front. At first glance this Mary Berry recipe seems lengthy and maybe a wee bit complicated, but each part is actually quite easy and you can break it down into manageable stages – you could make all the filling and garnish ahead, and then you just have to make the pav and leave it to it really, checking now and then, and continue with the Easter festivities.
To make the meringue, you will need:
3 free-range egg whites
175g caster sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 level tsp cornflour
1) Preheat the oven to 160C/ 325F/ Gas 3 and line a baking tray with parchment (if you want, you can draw a circle on it as a guide). Separate your eggs and set two yolks aside for the lemon curd.
2) Put the egg whites into a bowl and whisk on the fastest speed with a hand-whisk or a free-standing mixer until stiff.
Gradually, with the whisk still at maximum speed, carefully add generous teaspoons of sugar until the mixtures forms stiff peaks and is nice and shiny.
It should look something like this.
3) Blend the cornflour and white wine vinegar together in a bowl until smooth, then stir into the meringue mixture, being careful not to knock out all the nice air.
This mixture helps achieve that lovely gooey meringue middle! The finished mix should be smooth but stiff.
4) Spread half of the meringue mixture onto the paper, shaping it into a circle as you go.
Fit a piping bag with a rose nozzle (I used a trusty disposable piping bag to save on cleaning!) and fill with the rest of the meringue mixture. Carefully pipe nests around the side of the circle, spacing them out as equally as you can!
I’m no master piper but don’t worry if they’re not perfect – you want it to look homemade!
5) Slide the meringue into the middle shelf of the oven and turn the heat down to 150C/ 300F/ Gas 2 and bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours (check after one hour), or until it comes off the paper easily. It will be a pale creamy pink colour rather than white. Once it’s cooked, turn off the oven and leave the pav in there to cool.
Meanwhile, make the curd for the filling. I used my go-to lemon curd recipe, by Rachel Khoo. To make it, you will need:
1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated zest and juice
pinch of salt
2 free-range egg yolks
6) Put the lemon zest and juice, butter, sugar and salt into a small saucepan.
Heat until the sugar and butter have melted, then take off the heat.
7) Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then add to the pan and whisk vigorously.
Return the pan to a low heat and whisk constantly as the curd starts to thicken. Important: don’t stop whisking, otherwise the eggs will curdle! If it does start to boil then take the curd off the heat.
Once the curd thickens (it will release a bubble or two), remove from the heat. You can sieve it if you prefer your curd silky smooth but I don’t mind the bits.
Place cling film in direct contact with the curd and store in the fridge until you need it. Yum!
8) Still with me?! Next, make the candied lemon zest garnish. You will need:
2 lemons, zest only
50g caster sugar, plus extra for coating the zest
50 ml water
Cut your lemon zest into long thin strips like so:
Next, put the water and sugar into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring.
Add the zest and boil for 2-3 minutes, until syrupy.
This stage smells delicious! Drain the zest on some parchment paper and roll in the extra caster sugar.
Leave to dry in a warm place – you could always do this the night before, as the longer you leave it the better!
9) Lastly, whisk the double cream in a large bowl until stiff.
10) Now all you have to do is put the pavlova together! Fill the central cavity of the pav and each nest with the whipped cream (best you can!), and then swirl generously with lemon curd.
Place the candied lemon zest on the top to garnish, and if you want and have any Mini Eggs left, you could always pop them in the wee nests!
So there you go – a different Easter treat. It’s well worth the effort and always goes down well! Mary uses double the ingredients but I think this makes a whopper of a pav, while this is perfect to serve eight for a Spring dessert.
What are you baking for Easter? Hope you all enjoy the rest of the long weekend!