This is a pav to top all pavlovas. According to my citrus loving, pav-suspicious husband, it is the perfect pav. It’s not too sweet, has the tang of citrus, is marshmallowy soft inside, and the meringue outer shell is crisp and cracky.

That’s why it gets dragged out at Christmas time and pretty well whenever he and our daughter can tell me we have enough people for dinner to warrant me making it.

Nigella, you’ve done it again.

Oh, before we start, a note on the almonds. I don’t use them – not because they don’t work because they absolutely do, but because the first few times I made this I had people with nut allergies in the house. I got used to making it without the almonds and my family is so used to eating it without the almonds that they now complain about the odd occasion when I do scatter almonds across the top. I’ll leave the almond decision up to you.

What you need…

  • 6 egg whites
  • 375 grams caster sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons cornflour
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 teaspoons of juice
  • 50 grams flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan over medium heat for a minute or so – until they’ve coloured. (Don’t take your eyes off them – they can go from light brown to burnt to a cinder in a blink.)
  • 300 millilitres double cream
  • 325 grams jar lemon curd
  • an extra lemon for zesting over the top (optional)

What you do with it…

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan-forced) and line a baking tray with baking paper. I use a pizza tray.

Beat the egg whites until peaks form and then add the sugar a spoonful at a time as you continue to beat until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Sprinkle the cornflour over the meringue, then add the grated zest and lemon juice. Gently fold this through the mix.

Mound onto the prepared tray in a fat circle about 23cm diameter, smoothing down the sides and the top with a spatula.

Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 150C (130C fan-forced) and cook for an hour.

Once it’s cooked turn the oven off but leave it in there with the door open – this will stop it from cracking too quickly.

When you’re ready to dress the pav, turn it onto a large flat plate or board with the underside facing up. This gives you a flat surface to play with.

Whip the cream until thick, but still airily soft. It should hold its form but not be stiff.

Spoon the lemon curd into a bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon to loosen it a tad. If it needs sprucing up you can add a spritz of extra lemon juice to it.

Spread the lemon curd gently across the top of the pav with a spatula and top with the whipped cream. Sprinkle over the extra zest (if you’re using it) and scatter almonds over it.

Apologies for the quality of the photos – I can assure you it looks so much more triumphant in person.

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