One thing I really love about Brunswick (and living near it!) is the multitude of abundant lemon trees in front and back yards alike, laying temptingly close to front fences! I’ve never been able to understand why these lemon trees are always so well-stocked, as though the soil is pure magic (and has a mind of its own!) and has decided that every lemon tree within Brunswick will produce ample amounts of fruit on every tree!
Sadly, it seems the soil does have a mind of its own and is choosy, as despite living in Brunswick for upwards of 5 years and now living very, very close to Brunswick, I’ve never been the proud owner of one of these amazing trees.
Until this year! For some reason our seemingly barren lemon tree decided it was suddenly time to make up for the last 10 years of absolute non-supply – there are now lots of lemons around. So naturally, I’ve been making a lot of lemon-flavoured things.
And you’re probably all too aware of Nigella’s presence on MasterChef recently. If not, she was there for a whole week. It was Nigella week. It’s was necessarily decadent, from what I saw. Although, to be honest, I didn’t watch much of it. But the recipes speak for themselves!
In other news, (brace yourself for a very un-Australian statement…) I’ve never loved pavlova that much. I think it’s mostly because of my experience of pavlova as a kid. Whenever pavlova was served (and it was served fairly regularly, if my memory serves me correctly!), it was always topped with far too much over-whipped-almost-butterlike cream, with a smattering of old kiwi fruit slices on top. And maybe you’d think that cream is always delicious regardless of how beaten it is, but an over supply of over-beaten cream on top of soggy pavlova with soggy fruit does seem to turn one off pavlova for a few years hence. As it did me.
But recently, with the help of some very skilled pavlova-makers, I’ve changed my tune a little. It’s still not my favourite dessert, but it has moved up the list. And so, placing my trust in Nigella (she’s pretty trustworthy, especially when it comes to sweet things!) and my new-found interest in making lovely pavlova, I combined the two and made a Nigella pavlova. Happy days (subtle Jamie reference for the under-educated. Seriously. Google it). But really – this pavlova, whilst not able to rid me of all my memories of over-whipped cream, has sincerely restored my faith in the genius and deliciousness of pavlova. This pavlova is a new favourite of mine, and will now be staple in this house (and let me assure you, new staple is not a phrase often spoken by me)!
Oh, and for the record, I think this deserves a more extravagant title than Lemon Pavlova. Those two words do little justice to the immense perfection of this dessert. I think it deserves one of those Lemon pavlova with lemon curd, whipped cream and toasted almonds titles. But even that seems too descriptive and takes any surprise out of the dessert! So I’m renaming it: meet Lush Lemon Pavlova.
Oh and also, I made it once with lemon curd, and then again with passionfruit curd (hence the passionfruit seed in the photo). The verdict: equally perfect.
4 egg whites
250g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon (omit for passionfruit pavlova)
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
2 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
zest and juice of 2 lemons (flesh and seeds of 6 passionfruit for passionfruit curd)
Plus 50g flaked almonds and extra lemon zest
For the pavlova:
- Beat egg whites in a mixer until soft peaks form.
- Add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time, beating until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Once dissolved, add zest, cornflour and vinegar and beat on a low speed until combined.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and dollop the meringue onto the tray, forming a circle shape. I never think it’s worth being perfectionisty about the shape of the pavlova – it will rise and then collapse again in the oven, so I wouldn’t stress too much about getting it perfect because it’ll look different anyway. Just aim for a tall-ish round shape. It’s nice if the sides of the pavlova curve inwards towards the top, but it’s not necessary.
- Bake at 150C fan forced for 1 hour. When it’s finished, turn off the heat, but don’t open the door, and just leave the pavlova in the oven to cool for a while.
For the curd:
- Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring until melted and combined.
- Once it is melted and combined, increase the heat slightly and stir continuously for 5-7 minutes until the curd thickens.
- Take it off the heat and pour into a jar, bowl or container for later.
For the assembly:
- Beat the cream until soft peaks form – it should be thick and pillowy. Don’t over beat it!
- Place the almonds in a small pan over low heat and toast until lightly browned – you will need to keep an eye on these and agitate the pan regularly to ensure even colouring.
- Place the cooled pavlova on your serving plate, top with a generous amount (or all of) the curd.
- Then dollop the cream on top, and grate over some lemon zest (if you’re doing lemon pavlova – omit if you are doing passionfruit!)
- Finally, top with the taste almonds.