Light as a feather

The days are warming up! And that means salads, fruit and light soups to go with the brighter mood. Unfortunately at this time of the year there may not be many fruits on offer; and this is where the freezer comes in.

Frozen fruits are a lifesaver. Bake them in a crumble, in a tart; or even just eat with a little bit of orange syrup, as my mother does. I made this pavlova for my parent's wedding anniversary a few weeks ago, and it's simple and has the minimal amount of fuss involved as you can bake it the night before!

Whenever some people hear the word 'pavlova' they immediately think "Oh no, I couldn't do that!" But the fact is, it's incredibly easy once you have a decent recipe. And once you've got the basics mastered, you can add nuts to the base, top with chocolate, flavoured cream, fruit…. Whatever tickles your fancy.

Fruity Vanilla Pavlova
4 egg whites (use the rest for lemon curd)
175g caster sugar
50 icing (powdered) sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1tsp cornflour

One 500g pack of frozen fruits, defrosted
One 275ml pot whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
A little lemon zest, to garnish

1. Heat the oven to 160C. Prepare a baking tray - line it with paper.

2. Beat the egg whites with an electric whisk until stiff. Add the sugars and beat again until fluffy and glossy. (To test, hold the bowl up over your head. If the mixture doesn't fall, you've finished! And if it does….?

3.. Sift in the cornflour and beat again. Gently fold in the vinegar.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, then switch off the oven and leave to cool overnight.

5. Before serving, whip the cream to your desired thickness. Fold in the vanilla essence. Turn the pavlova upside down onto a serving plate - you should now have a fairly flat surface on which to put the cream. Spread the cream over the meringue and top with the frozen fruit. Sprinkle a little lemon zest over the top and voilà!


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