One of the first things I remember baking as a kid in Trinidad are soupies. Plain meringue rounds, usually with a good dash of garish food colouring. I don’t think I’ve made meringue since then, so this dessert is a long time coming! This time the recipe will be a bit more sophisticated; I’ll be making a lemon and blueberry Pavlova. I’m not a great fan of dry, chalky meringue so I’m making it with a just about baked, soft, chewy Swiss meringue.
For a successful meringue you need to ensure you do a few things. Firstly, use the freshest eggs possible. Next, separate you eggs – one by one – not into each other to ensure none of the yolk gets into the mix. If you don’t, the yolk of the last egg you crack splits, that would be all the egg whites ruined!
It’s also important to make sure that your mixing bowl and your whisk or whisk attachment are clean as a whistle. If they have any sign of oil or grease it will affect how well the egg whites form those all-important stiff peaks.
Success on that front – so I was off to a good start!
I decided on three graduated layers with whipping cream swirled with the gently simmered blueberries – and a small batch of my freshly made lemon curd.
The flavours worked so well together – the sweet meringue combining beautifully with the slightly tart blueberries and the sweet, unctuous lemon. A real triumph!
Other great Pavlova fillings you could try are the classic strawberries, passion fruit & kiwifruit; mandarin; peach, pomegranate, banana & toffee (banoffee) or black cherry & chocolate (black forest). Or flavour the actual meringue with cocoa powder, fine ground coffee beans or – my new favourite – cardamom.
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
Preheat the oven to 100ºC/200ºF/gas mark ½
Line a large oven tray with baking parchment
In a heat-proof mixing bowl, gently mix the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar over a simmering saucepan of water (make sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water). Keep stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved
Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and, using an electric mixer, beat on a slow speed rising gradually to a high speed. Continue for about 3-5 minutes until the meringue forms stiff peaks
Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle
Pipe 3 graduated circular shapes and 6-8 meringue kisses on to the parchment paper
Bake for 1-1½ hours depending on how sticky or hard you want the finished meringue
Put the blueberries into a small saucepan with a tablespoonful of sugar and cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool
Beat the whipping cream until thickened and forms peaks. Set aside
When cooked, remove the meringue from the parchment paper (you may need to use a palette knife) and allow to cool completely on a wire rack
Put the largest meringue round on to a large plate and top with ⅓ of the whipped cream, ⅓ of the blueberry mixture and drizzle with ⅓ of the lemon curd
Repeat with the two other circles of meringue (the smallest goes on the top)
Decorate with the meringue kisses
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
It looked really easy so I collected all the pips from lemons we used in cooking for a few weeks.
When I had a handful, I was ready to go. I opted for this lovely oversize cup as a container – you can choose anything you fancy – cups, old tins, boxes etc. Some gravel in the bottom to prevent water-logging and multi-purpose compost to cover. Done!
The pips were planted in February and small shoots appeared in June, so it took quite a while for them to start germinating – I have to admit that I nearly gave up on them! They got a day in the sunshine as encouragement & reward when I saw those first shoots appear.
Look at them now! The bold, brightly coloured pattern of the cup contrasts with the glossy green foliage of the young lemon plants. It looks fabulous on our kitchen window sill… and they smell gorgeous when you rub a leaf between your fingers – fresh and citrusy.
I can leave them in the cup as they are now and have lots of these pretty dwarf plants – or perhaps pot these on to get larger lemon trees and start again with the pips. A fully fledged lemon business maybe!
This week, lemon & blueberry cheesecake joins the ranks.
I’ve used Hobnobs instead of the usual digestive biscuits for the base. Frozen blueberries are available in the supermarket all year round and at a fraction of the price of fresh.
Home-made cheesecake isn’t difficult. The secret is cooking it long & low. Wrapping the tin with foil and placing it in a water bath (bain-marie) makes sure it cooks properly all the way through without burning. You want the slightest browning of the top.
It feels like a very indulgent cake… but I know the blueberries count as one of your 5-a-day. It leaves just one question, do the lemons make it two?
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter & caster sugar until light & fluffy
Mix in the egg yolks
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt
Mix in the poppy seeds
In a measuring jug, add the buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest (reserve a pinch of the zest for the glaze)
Add the dry, flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture in two batches; interspersing it with adding the buttermilk & lemon mixture
Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks before folding into the mixture
Spoon the mixture into the greased loaf tin and bake on the lowest shelf for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes away clean.. If the top of the loaf begins to get too brown, cover with tin foil
Whilst the cake is cooking, make the glaze.
Add the lemon juice & icing sugar to a small measuring jug and stir until any lumps have been removed. Set aside
In a small bowl, add the granulated sugar & lemon zest and with your fingers using a crumbing motion. Set aside
Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin
Whilst still warm and using a pastry brush, spread the lemon juice & icing sugar glaze uniformly over the top
Once completely cool, remove the cake from the tin a place on a cake plate
Sprinkle the granulated sugar & lemon zest mixture over the top of the glazed cake
It's now ready to serve!
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
Citrus conjures up strong feelings; it ambushes all the senses. The scent is fresh and reviving. The taste zings on the tongue and the palate. The greens, yellows and ahem… oranges are eye-catching, vibrant and bright. Citrus is invigorating, uplifting, mood-enhancing and health-giving.
This week, I needed one lemon for something or other but saw one of those string bags of lemons in the supermarket for a whole 25p – cheaper than buying it singly.
I ended up with half a dozen lemons in the fruit bowl that needed using up. More drizzle cake? Cookies? Sorbet? Meringue?
I’ll let you in on a secret. Even though I generally can’t bear lemon, I LOVE lemon curd – I don’t know why! Lemon curd on hot, buttered toast is divine – and it’s a doddle to make.
I found a really simple recipe in my favourite celebrity chef, Delia Smith’s Cookery Course Part Two. I scaled up her recipe which made enough to fill two 400ml Mason jars. As well as being good on breakfast toast, you can use it in a sponge sandwich like I did here, lemon curd tarts or lemon roulade.
Don’t worry if your mixture looks like it’s curdling when it begins to cook. Once the temperature is low, you keep stirring and the butter begins to melt – it will all be fine!