Today we are celebrating with a wonderfully light & whippy pavlova ’cause it’s my birthday 🙂 WOO! Anywho, I discovered pavlova earlier this year (shame on my Kiwi and Australian friends for force feeding me Vegemite whilst omitting pavlova from the menu) and promptly fell in love. It’s light and sweet, loaded with fruit, and a fantastic excuse to eat large volumes of whipped cream. It’s also beautifully simple to make and easy to customize to whatever fruit you happen to have on hand.

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A pavlova is basically a baked meringue topped with fruit, cream, and other delicious things (I like to include lemon or lime curd as well). It’s named for Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina who lived and danced in the early 1900’s. It’s not hard to see the link between a tutu and the wonderful lightness of a pavlova. You can have a lot of fun with dolloping the meringue about before baking if you’re so inclined and take it into full-on tutu land.

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You bake the meringue for a relatively long time at a low temperature so you get a nice, airy top with a slightly chewy inner bottom bit that’s downright addictive (and, according to the Brits, the measure of a good pavlova).

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If you’re not in love with pavlova yet, I’d recommend it as an alternative to Angel Food Cake as a summer dessert/fruit vessel. Pavlova is easier to make than Angel Food Cake, it’s gluten free if that’s your thing, and it looks oh-so light and whimsical.

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You can count on me celebrating today with sunshine, a good book, some nice wine and/or beer, and good friends 🙂 Thanks so much to all of you for reading, it’s really the best present I could ask for!

Summer Berry & Lime Pavlova

4 egg whites, at room temperature

1 ¼ cups superfine/berry sugar, plus 2 tsp
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract

500g/1lb strawberries, rinsed & hulled
2 cups raspberries, rinsed
1 cup lime or lemon curd

250mL heavy cream, for whipping
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 275°F. Draw an 8″ circle on a piece of parchment with a pencil (I traced a plate) and flip the parchment over—you’ll still see the circle, but you won’t eat any graphite. Place the parchment on a baking sheet.

Stir the 2 tsp of sugar together with the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.

Whip the egg whites in a clean glass or metal bowl until soft peaks form. Begin sprinkling in the sugar while beating. Take this part slowly, adding a spoonful or so at a time, for a total of four or so minutes of beating and adding the sugar. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, sprinkle in the cornstarch mixture and add the lemon juice, salt, and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Gently spoon the meringue into the circle you’ve traced on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Make it a bit concave, and don’t be overly fussed about the shape.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and lower the temperature to 250°F. Bake for 45 minutes, rotate the sheet 180°, and bake for another 45—the meringue should be lightly browned, dry, and light when it’s done.

Let the meringue cool completely on a rack (the parchment is great here for safely sliding it off the baking sheet and onto the cooling rack) before topping.

Once cool, spread the lime curd across the concave part of the pavlova. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla. Layer the curd with fruit, and top with a generous amount of whipped cream. Enjoy!

This recipe will make one big pavlova, or 4 of the smaller ones pictured here.