Recipe: The easiest Pavlova!

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December is pretty stressful for all of us, so when I can simplify things I try to do just that. I write my Christmas cards in advance, do most my Christmas gift shopping online etc.

The same applied when I after a party weekend away for my dear colleague wanted to bake some cakes for her actual birthday in the office. In my head I wanted to do this lovely chocolate Pavlova, but when I came home tired after a great party and having had to deal with snow (!) in London, I lowered the bar somewhat.

And I’m so glad I did. Sometimes less really is more and all my colleagues loved this cake. I topped it with Maltesters but throw on whatever chocolate, fruit or berries you like.

Pavlova, serves 8

4 egg whites

220 g caster sugar

Topping: 

450 ml whipping cream

1 bag of Maltesers

cocoa for dusting 

Pre-heat the oven to 150C.

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar a little at the time while beating. Once added beat until stiff peaks form and you have a glossy firm meringue (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down wihout the meringue moving). 

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using a spatula, pour the meringue out onto the parchment paper and shape it into an even circle. 

Bake for 60 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave the oven door ajar until the oven has cooled down. Leave to cool completely. 

Turn the cake upside down onto a cake plate and remove the parchment paper. Lightly whip the cream and spread on top of the meringue. Top with Maltesers and dust with cocoa. Serve immediately. 

 

 

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Recipe: rhubarb meringue pie

 

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We have a good thing going in my family. We all like mayonnaise and bearnaise sauce A LOT so we use a lot of egg yolks. Not wanting to waste food the egg whites go into little containers in the fridge (they keep for weeks!). But conveniently my dad loves everything meringue-y so we get to use up the egg whites quite frequently too.

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The whole little family (there’s only three of us; mother, father and me) loved this rhubarb meringue pie. It still has the tang of a lemon meringue pie but is slightly less heavy as no butter or egg yolk in the rhubarb filling.

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The pie on the pictures had approx 500 g rhubarb in the filling which was fine taste wise but looked a little silly with all that meringue, so in the recipe below I’ve adjusted the recipe to 800 g rhubarb. It cooks down a lot in the oven, so I promise it’s not too much.

Also, when making the meringue, please note that it needs a lot of beating with an electric whisk and that it’s important the syrup boils and reaches (or almost reaches) 118C.

Rhubarb meringue pie, serves 8

Pastry:

180 g plain flour

100 g softened butter

2 1/2 tbsp cream or water

Rhubarb filling:

800 g frozen rhubarb pieces

3 tbsp potato flour (starch)

4-5 tbsp caster sugar

 

Italian meringue:

4 egg whites

120 g caster sugar

Syrup:

120 g caster sugar

100 ml water

Mix all the ingredients to the dough in a bowl or using a food processor. Press into a Ø 20 cm pie dish. Bake in a low oven using baking beads at 180C, for approx 10-15 minutes or until golden and baked through. Leave to cool. 

Place the defrosted rhubarb pieces in an ovenproof dish and scatter with potato flour and sugar. If using fresh rhubarb I would start off by using less potato flour adding more if needed.  Place in a 200 C oven for approx 20 minuter. The mixture should be bubbling, almost caramelised and thickened. Leave to cool. 

Make the meringue: Add egg whites and sugar to a clean bowl and beat for 10 minutes with an electric whisk. Meanwhile make the syrup by adding water and sugar to a saucepan and bring to the boil (don’t stir). Remove when 118C (the boiling point for sugar). Add the hot syrup to the meringue and beat for a further 15 minutes, until you have a thick and glossy meringue. 

Assemble: Add the rhubarb mixture to the pie crust once both are cool. Spread the meringue on top and burn the edges with a brulee torch. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

Sponge with elderflower liqueur, ice cream, whipped cream and blueberries

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This is more of an assembly job than actual cooking, but a really nice simple dessert to pull out when you crave something sweet after dinner or throwing a last minute dinner party. Make a sponge at the weekend, cut into slices and freeze and you can make this any time with just a few minutes notice.

Sponge with elderflower liqueur, ice cream, whipped cream and blueberries, served 3

3 slices sponge cake

3 tbsp St Germain elderflower liqueur 

3 scoops vanilla ice cream

3 spoonfuls lightly whipped cream

150 g fresh blueberries

Place the sponge slices in bowls. Pour the liqueur over the cake. Top with ice cream, whipped cream and blueberries. 

Caramel tart

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I made this lovely caramel tart ages ago for the office and although the pastry case looks a bit dark (I was so worried it would taste burnt, but it didn’t) everybody loved it. Phew! it’s very easy to make, just keep an eye on the pastry in the oven.

The original recipe calls for two chocolate truffles (one white, one brown) to be piped on top, but I just decorated it with whipped cream and it worked well too.

Caramel tart, serves 8

Adapted from Erik Lallerstedt’s recipe.

Pastry::

300 ml plain flour (180 g)

100 g butter

1-2 tbsp caster sugar

1 egg yolk

Filling:

100 ml double cream 

45 g caster sugar

50 ml golden syrup

1/2 vanilla pod

3 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp orange blossom honey

100 g unsalted butter

Garnish:

whipped cream

Dark chocolate truffle:

100 g dark chocolate

150 g unsalted butter

White chocolate truffle:

100 g white chocolate

150 g unsalted butter

Make the pastry and cover a pie dish with it. Bake in 200C for 20 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool. Place all the ingredients for the caramel, apart from the butter, in a saucepan and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod, add the pod as well and remove it later. Add the butter. Leave to cool and pour into the pastry case. Place somewhere cold. 

Truffle: Break up the chocolate and melt in a bain marie with knobs of softened butter. Stir continuously until smooth. Leave to cool until good piping consistency, then pipe onto the set caramel.  

Crunchy apple cake

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Some people, like my wonderful mother, love apple pies and cakes. I actually think she could live on it alone. I, on the other hand, am a little harder to please. Raw apples – delicious. Mushy cooked ones – not so much. I want set cakes, that provide a nice contrast to the soft apples.

This cake has the Hanna seal of approval; it’s cake-y, has a nice crunchy top but is still apple-y enough for the likes of my mother. Happy days!

Crunchy apple cake, serves 8-10

3-6 apples, peeled and slices

1 tbsp caster sugar

a little (1/2 – 1 tsp) cinnamon

3 eggs

190 g caster sugar

70 g plain flour

Place the apple slices in a lined springform. Scatter with sugar and cinnamon. Beat eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy and mix in the flour. Pour into the tin. Bake for 60 minutes in 175C. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

Crumbly vanilla squares

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These seriously-easy-to-make vanilla squares are so nice even the boys in the office asked me for the recipe. They remind me of a pastry we have in Sweden called vaniljhjärtan (vanilla hearts); a thin pastry heart filled with wonderful vanilla cream. These square are a little sharper than those, because of the fromage frais and creme fraiche, but that’s not a bad thing. I just think it adds freshness and make the squares seem lighter. Deceptive, I know.

This recipe makes a lot of cake, but you can easily halve it or just make the whole batch and put some in the freezer.

Crumbly vanilla squares, makes approx 42

Translated from and adapted after the recipe in Hemmets Journals.

Crumble:

500 g butter

600 g plain flour

320 g caster sugar

4 tbsp vanilla powder (a little less if using essence)

1 tbsp baking powder

Filling:

4 eggs

200 ml fromage frais

500 ml creme fraiche

240 g caster sugar 

1 tbsp vanilla powder or essence

Mix butter, flour, sugar, vanilla and baking powder until a sandy texture, using a food processor. I had to make it in two batches as my food processor isn’t very big. Press half of the crumbe onto a parchment paper in a large baking tray (I used two smaller ones).

Mix egg, fromage frais, creme fraiche, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Pour the filling over the crumb base. Pour the rest of the crumble mixture on top. Bake for 30 minutes in the middle of the oven. Leave to cool and cut into squares. 

Winter Pavlova

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I made this lovely Winter version of Pavlova before Christmas, and if I had had time to post it before the holiday season I would have aptly named it Christmas Pavlova, but, as it’s now February, I think Winter Pavlova is more fitting. Clementines are still in season so nothing’s stopping you to make it right away. Or why not try it with blood oranges?

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Scandelights’ Winter Pavlova, serves 10

Clementine curd:

50 g butter

1 egg

100 ml caster sugar (80 g)

3 small clementines (or 2 larger ones)

Meringue:

140 g egg whites (4)

220 g caster sugar

8 g / 1 tbsp corn flour

4 g  / 1 tsp white wine vinegar

Decoration:

3 dl whipping or double cream

1 packet pomegranate seeds

4 clementines, cut into fillets (i.e. the wedges without the membranes) 

Clementine curd:

Zest the clementines and squeeze out the juice. Place in a saucepan with the butter and half the sugar. Heat up until the butter and sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool.

Beat egg and remaining sugar pale and fluffy and add to the saucepan. Let the mixture thicken on low heat while stirring. It must not boil. Leave to cool. Store in the fridge. 

Meringue:

Beat the egg whites until foamy and add the sugar bit by bit while beating until stiff peaks. Add corn flour and vinegar and fold it in with a spatula. 

Divide the meringue in two, shaping two circles on two parchment clad baking trays. 

Bake in the middle of the oven, for 60 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the cooling oven with the door open until the oven has cooled down. 

Assembling:

Lightly whip the cream and cut the clementines into fillets (peel it, keep it whole and place a knife on either side of each membrane, cutting out membrane-free wedges). Place one meringue round on a cake plate. Spread with clementine curd. Spread with whipped cream and place the other meringue round on top. Spread with whipped cream and decorate with clementine fillets and pomegranate seeds.