This post first appeared on and anyways…
Let’s have a chat about the pavlova – and no, I don’t care whether the Australians or the Kiwis invented it first, but I happen to think that Nigella has reinvented it. Every one of her cookbooks has a pav in it – and I’ve made most of them. No longer is the pav a flattish disc of chewy meringue with fake cream and chopped fruit salad over the top. Now it’s crispy on the outside and spongey within, scented with lemon, coffee, chocolate, coconut, blood orange, or even pepper and rose. It’s drizzled with cream, piled high with berries or tropical fruits, doused in lemon curd, and maybe even dusted with chocolate. Nigella has made the pav…special. Special enough for Christmas.
The one I do at Christmas each year, though, is her lemon curd pavlova. It’s got lemon rind and lemon juice in the meringue and is topped with a whole jar of lemon curd, a carton of cream (whipped), and some toasted almonds or raspberries for texture.
The pav in the pic below, made for a Boxing Day catch-up with Deb’s World, also had some chocolate flake crumbled over the top. It looks all cracked and gnarly on the outside, but the inside is something else – and that’s largely down to the lemon juice.
Not only does the juice cut through the sweetness of the sugar it also provides that acidic element that helps keep the outside crisp and the inside squidgy.
The other trick to this one is to turn it upside down and “dress” the flat bottom rather than the craggy top.
If I’m making it for a crowd (such as I did for our Boxing Day catchup) I’ll use Nigella’s recipe with 6 egg whites – saving the yolks for ice cream. No-waste baking at its best. If, however, I’m making it for just us, say 3-4 people, I make this petite pav, and for a slightly larger group, say 4-6 people, I use the version below.
As with all pavlovas:
- Have your egg whites at room temperature before you start,
- ensure the bowl you’re whisking your egg whites in is super clean,
- add the sugar to the egg whites slowly and serenely (such a Nigella word) and
- allow the pav to cool in the oven. It will probably crack and collapse (at least a little) but will crack and collapse less if you allow it to gently cool.
What you need
- 4 large egg whites
- a pinch of salt
- 250g caster sugar
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- The grated rind of a lemon (we like it lemony so use a large lemon or 2 small ones)
- a jar of good lemon curd (or you can make your own)
- 300ml cream, whipped (you can use a lactose-free cream, just make sure it’s one that’s been developed for whipping)
- flaked almonds or raspberries
What you do with it
Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan)
Line a baking tray with parchment. Nigella suggests drawing the outline of a circle in pencil on the parchment first (the pencil side against the tin) but I can’t be faffed.
Whisk the egg whites and salt in a super clean bowl (trust me, this matters…) until satiny peaks form and then beat in the sugar a teaspoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and glossy. I use a stand mixer at high speed for this.
Sprinkle over the cornflour, the lemon rind and the lemon juice and fold through.
Mound the meringue mixture onto your baking tray into an approximation of a circle and smooth the sides and the top into a thick, straight-sided disc.
Place in the oven and immediately turn it down to 150C (130C fan) and cook for 50 minutes. Once cooked switch the oven off and leave the pav to cool in it. I stick a wooden spoon in the oven door so the residual heat is released slowly.
When you’re ready to eat and the pav is completely cool, turn it onto a flat plate (I have a plate that is only used for pavs – my Uncle Brian gave it to me for my 21st many many years ago…) so the soft belly is now uppermost. Spoon over the lemon curd and whipped cream and top with the flaked almonds or raspberries.
Oh my, that does look decadent.