Every week, Yahoo Food spotlights a cookbook that stands out from all the rest. This week’s cookbook is Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food by Nigella Lawson (Flatiron Books). In addition to writing nine bestselling cookbooks, Lawson has hosted numerous popular cooking shows and has her own line of kitchenware. Read more about Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week here.
Photo: Keiko Oikawa
Serves 8 - 12
Ever since my first pav in How To Eat, I have been something of a pavaholic. For me, acidity is key. I never understood why anyone would pile sweet fruit on top of something that is essentially – and dreamily – a cross between a marshmallow and a meringue. So naturally, a lemon pavlova made perfect sense. I had the idea – yes, really – from the actor Michael Sheen. This didn’t come in the form of a personal tip, I should admit. I saw him create a great pile of lemony pavs on the British TV show The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, and it inspired me. Diolch Michael (if I may). And that’s “Thank You” in Welsh by the way.)
You will note there are a lot of sliced almonds required: that is because they are the topping of the pav and not mere decoration; the crunch they offer is essential.
I make this with a jar of shop-bought lemon curd, but obviously I wouldn’t stop you from making your own. Should you want, proceed as follows: whisk together 2 extra large eggs, the yolks from 2 more extra large eggs, and ¾ cup superfine sugar in a heavy-based saucepan (off the heat). Add the finely grated zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons and 7 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes or teaspooned out into similar-sized blobs, and put the pan over a medium heat, stirring constantly with a little flat whisk, until thickened. This will take around 5–7 minutes, but keep taking it off the heat – stirring or whisking all the while – at regular intervals during this time. When thickened, pour and scrape into a cold bowl and let it cool, stirring occasionally.
I am childishly excited about this pavlova: a reminder that good ideas come unbidden, much as happiness does.
6 egg whites (feel free to use unseasoned egg whites from a carton, if wished)
1 ¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
2½ teaspoons cornstarch
2 unwaxed lemons
½ cup sliced almonds
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
1 1/3 cups jar lemon curd (see Intro)
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Sprinkle the cornstarch over the meringue, then grate in the zest – a fine microplane is best for this – of 1 lemon and add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
Gently fold until everything is thoroughly mixed in. Mound onto the lined baking tray in a fat circle approximately 10 inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and the top with a knife or spatula.
Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300°F, and cook for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool, but don’t leave it anywhere cold as this will make it crack too quickly. If you think your kitchen is too cool, then leave the pavlova inside the oven with the door completely open. When you’re ready to eat, turn the pavlova onto a large flat plate or board with the underside uppermost – I do this before I sit down to the meal in question and let it stand till dessert time. This is so the tender marshmallow belly of the pav melds with the soft topping.
Toast the flaked almonds, by frying them in a dry pan over a medium to high heat until they have started to color. Shake the pan at regular intervals and don’t let them burn. This doesn’t take more than a minute or so. When they’re done, remove to a cold plate so that they don’t carry on cooking.
Whip the cream until thick and airy but still with a soft voluptuousness about it, and set it aside for a moment.
Put the lemon curd into a bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon or spatula to loosen it a little. Taste the lemon curd (if it’s shop-bought) and add some lemon zest and a spritz of juice if it’s too sweet.
With a light hand, a glad heart and a spatula, spread the lemon curd on top of the meringue base. Now top with the whipped cream, peaking it rather as if it were a meringue topping. Sprinkle with the zest of the remaining lemon – you can grate this finely or coarsely as you wish – followed by the flaked almonds, and serve triumphantly.
MAKE AHEAD NOTE
Meringue base can be made 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container until needed.
Curd can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover and store in fridge until needed. Stir before using.
Almonds can be toasted a week ahead. When cold, store in an airtight container at room temperature until needed.
Assemble the pavlova about 1 hour ahead of serving.
Leftovers can be stored in fridge, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 1 day.
Reprinted with permission from Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food by Nigella Lawson (Flatiron Books).
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