The sun has most certainly got his hat on and the soft fruits are calling out to be picked, Strawberries, Raspberries, Gooseberries, Redcurrants, Whitecurrants, Blackcurrants and more from productive veg gardens, allotments and PYO fields this month and turned into an array of delicious summer puddings.
Hence part of the inspiration for this Strawberry and Raspberry pavlova, with the added incentive of using up the last of the highly fragrant rose petals from the garden and the deliciously scented Lemon Verbena leaves, freshly picked from our newly planted herb bed. Oh and not forgetting our three chickens, Doris, Matilda and Pepper who whilst we were away for a couple of weeks didn’t stop laying!
- 4 Free range egg whites, from medium eggs
- 180g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 2 handfuls of scented rose petals
- 1 small handful of lemon verbena leaves
- A cereal bowl full of strawberries, cut into halves and raspberries
- 284ml double cream
- Lemon verbena leaves and their flowers for the top
- A fruity syrup/cordial or cassis
- Preheat the oven to 120℃ / Gas mark 1
- Tear up the rose petals if large.
- Finely slice or chop the lemon verbena leaves, take out the woody mid rib if large.
- Put the egg whites into a clean large mixing bowl and whisk until nicely frothy/soft peaks.
- Add the vanilla essence, cornflour and whisk to combine.
- Keep whisking, adding the sugar shake by shake until you have a lovely glossy meringue mixture.
- Add the vinegar and give the mixture one final whisk.
- Spoon the meringue mixture onto a lined baking tray (non stick baking parchment), about a 9 inch diameter circle.
- Put into the oven for 1 hour or so or until the meringure has a crisp shell, then allow to cool.
- Remove the baking parchment or if it doesnt come away easily just cut away the excess paper from around the edge of the pavlova, leaving the paper behind as you serve.
- Whisk up the double cream and spoon onto the middle of the pavlova base.
- Tumble over the strawberries and raspberries, drizzle over a little fruity syrup/cordial or cassis.
- Sprinkle over some small lemon verbena leaves/flowers and serve.
When choosing your rose petals out of the garden go for the highly scented varieties and definitely don’t use flowers that may have been sprayed with pesticides or shop bought roses.
If you cant get you hands on any fresh and fragrant rose petals, just add a teaspoon of good quality rose water in their place to the meringue mixture.
If the petals are large just gently tear them up into smaller pieces, if not they can give a chewy texture to the pavlova, I dont really mind this but some people do!
I love the deliciously aromatic scent and feathery fern like leaves of Lemon-scented verbena and wouldnt be without it in the herb bed; always thinking of differnet ways to squeeze its unique aromatic lemony flavour into my recipes. It’s easy to grow too, its not fussy about the type of soil it grows in and infact it prefers a poor soil that has not been fertilised. Its best planted in a sunny, sheltered position as it is a tender plant and it will grow well for you in a pot.
Just remember the leaves can become quite coarse with age, so its best to use the younger/tender leaves for this recipe, sliced thinly ( kitchen scissors work well for this) or chopped up finely. Use the tougher larger leaves for a delicious and calming infusion.
If you are not growing Lemon verbena and can’t get hold of any; I haven’t seen it being sold as a herb yet in any shop, well not in the UK, substitute it with Lemon Balm leaves, lemon zest or a bit of very finely sliced, chopped Lemon Grass.
To prevent the pavlova base sticking to the baking parchment, which I forgot to do this time, just brush the paper with a little oil;belt and braces.
Summer fruit, flavour and fragrance on a plate, enjoy and have a great week end!
Ps; Play around with different flavourings for your meringues, try adding chopped basil leaves or chopped toasted hazelnuts to ring the changes and have fun with different fresh fruit and herb combinations, let the seasons dictate the flavours, fragrance and colours; maybe poached rhubarb and mint in the spring and roasted plums and bay leaves in late summer.