A beautiful dessert that brings together elements of sweet, sour and bitter
The citrus curd is vital in here in knocking off a pavlova’s natural tendency to over-sweetness. The slight bitterness of the saffron adds extra edge. Beautiful to look at, to serve and most definitely to eat.
5 large egg whites
350g caster sugar
1½ tsp white wine vinegar
A large pinch of saffron
140g caster sugar
8 eggs: 4 whole + 4 yolks
140g unsalted butter
500ml double cream
50g nuts of your choosing: flaked almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts
Edible flowers to decorate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and draw a circle approx 23cm diameter.
Put the egg whites into a scrupulously clean mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt and use an electric whisk to create stiff peaks. Whisk in a third of the sugar, then the rest a spoonful at a time, whisking after each addition. Keep whisking until thick and glossy. Fold in the vinegar, then spoon the meringue mix into the circle on the paper. Bank it up at the sides a little. Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 140C. Cook for an hour, turn the oven off, and leave the pavlova in the oven to cool. From here it can be kept for a day in an air-tight container.
For the curd, put the saffron in a small bowl and pour over 1 tbsp boiling water. Set aside for 5 mins. Grate the zest of two of the oranges and set aside. Squeeze the juice from all 6 oranges—you need 300ml. Mix the sugar with the whole eggs and yolks. Stir in the orange juice, saffron and its infusion water, and a pinch of salt. Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Stir in the orange / egg mix and keep stirring continuously over the low heat until it thickens. It will take about 10-12 mins. Then push the curd through a sieve. Pour into a bowl and chill for an hour or so to thicken up.
To build the pavlova toast the nuts for a minute in a dry frying pan and lightly crush. Whip the cream until thick but not totally stiff. Arrange the meringue base on a serving plate. Spoon the curd over, then the whipped cream. Finish by scattering over the reserved orange zest, the nuts and—if using—edible flowers to decorate.
Recipe: Angela Clutton