For some strange reason, over the past week I’ve only been posting Middle Eastern recipes on my blog. It’s probably because Middle Eastern food is just so good!
I have to be honest with you guys; I had to make this pavlova base twice. The first time I was in a rush and needed to squeeze in an extra maths lesson. I placed the meringue in the oven just prior to leaving for my lesson and asked my Mum nicely to watch it for me and make sure it cooked completely before she took it out the oven. Unfortunately I neglected to recall that Mum and baking aren’t the best of friends… She had once given me raw banana bread in my lunchbox. I put that all behind me, really out of necessity. I returned home after my lovely 2-hour maths lesson about Trigonometry, excited to see how my meringue had turned out. I carefully removed it out the oven and to my surprise it looked perfect! But as I began pulling the baking paper from beneath the meringue I realised that something wasn’t quite right. It looked very wet, but I was blinded by my impatience and carried on peeling. As I pulled away a little more and it was just about free from the paper, it broke into a million mushy pieces on my oven. I can’t quite remember what happened after that, either I just stood there and looked at it or I burst into laughter. Either way, I couldn’t piece that mushy mess back together. It was a raw, white heap in my oven. I’m not sure how she got it wrong, seeing that the recipe is so easy! Sure – I blamed my Mum and told her that I could never forgive her… but later I got over myself and made another meringue (and I apologised to my mom for giving her the risky task of watching over my meringue). Anyway, the second one looked even better than the first would have ever looked. Success!
Here the classic meringue base is flavoured with rose water, one of my favourite flavours. The outside is crisp and crunchy, while the inside is slightly chewy and marshmallowy. Like any good pavlova, it should have a thick dollop of whipped cream, in this case flavoured with even more rose water. On top of that is a drizzle of strawberry syrup made with strawberries, seeped in sweet sugary syrup flavoured with cardamom and even more rose water. Then it’s topped with fresh strawberries and pistachios. The result is heavenly scented and wonderfully impressive at the dinner table.
Persian Strawberry Pavlova
Serves 8-10 people
- 6 egg whites
- 350g castor sugar
- 1 tsp rosewater
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup castor sugar
- 1 tsp rosewater
- 5 pods cardamom
- 400g strawberries, quartered
- 250ml whipping cream
- 1 tsp rosewater
- 100g strawberries
- 50g pistachio nuts
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and prepare a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray.
2. Whip your egg whites until soft peeks form. Slowly add your castor sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and whip until all of the sugar is combined. Add your rosewater and continue whipping for a further 3 minutes. By that time you should have a thick meringue mixture with stiff peeks.
3. Spoon the meringue mixture onto your prepared baking paper in the shape of a circle. Make a well in the centre with the back of your spoon. This is where the cream will sit.
4. Place the meringue into the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 100 degrees Celsius. Leave to bake for 2 ½ hours. By that time it should be very crispy on the outside and when you tap it should have a hollow sound. Turn the heat of and leave to cool in the oven. This will give you a chewy inside.
1. Place all of your strawberry syrup ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a light simmer. Leave to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
2. Once completely cooled, strain through a sift using the back of the spoon. By doing this you will mash the strawberries, giving you a syrup.
1. Whip your cream together with the rosewater until soft peeks form. Slice your strawberries into quarters.
1. Place your meringue onto your serving plate. Dollop your whipped cream into the well of the meringue. Pour some of your strawberries syrup over the cream. Finally sprinkle with your fresh strawberries and pistachio nuts.
Article and Photography by Ben Orkin