berry pavlova with lemon curd and wild thyme honey

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It’s a rainy Sunday evening; the third week of Western Australian Spring that’s been pervaded by dark clouds, high winds and cold nights. Not that I mind. It’s decidedly cosy in our small apartment; a frosted lamp casts a warm glow across the coffee table as I sit, sipping warm rooibos, on a nearby couch. My fingers tap against plastic keys, pausing momentarily to hear the steady beat of rain against the balcony window. Perfect conditions for evening reverie.

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As I type this sentence, I have exactly three minutes until the last year of my third decade begins: the big three-oh. Two days ago, I was filled with ardent opposition to this idea; mostly as I loathed the idea of leaving my fading youth behind. However, as the day fast approaches, I’ve actually gained some much needed perspective.

This year is to be celebrated, not commiserated. I’m blessed to be alive, to be fit and healthy, to be surrounded by those I love on a daily basis. Each year that passes brings a stronger sense of ‘self’; both individually and within my personal relationships. Plus, I get to eat cake whenever I want (and bake it, too).

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This particular cake was the product of a shopping trip to the beautiful Boatshed Markets in Cottesloe. If you’re a Perth foodie, I’m sure you’ve heard of this place already; aisle after aisle of fresh, local fruit and vegetables, gourmet olive oil, house made antipasti, biodynamic meats, aged cheeses and artisan breads.

I bring home a considerable bounty each time I visit, and Saturday was no different. By checkout time, I had squirreled purple congo potatoes, fresh broad beans, sourdough and cheeses into our basket with some watercress, cured meats and a $9 punnet of vibrant edible flowers.

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Edible flowers are a source of inspiration for me. As soon as I see them, I feel an urge to create something delicate; a fragrant, delicious creation to act as a ‘throne’ for their beauty.

On Saturday, the flower was the common Stork’s Bill, or Erodium cicutarium. One glance at the blushing pink petals, red stems and variegated leaves had me itching to create a delicate pavlova, sandwiched with cream, homemade lemon curd, berries and a fragrant drizzle of wild thyme honey.

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This pavlova is beautiful in every sense of the word. With one bite, you get crunchy meringue, earthy pistachios and a pop of fresh berry wrapped in soft, luscious lemon and crème fraîche.

The wild thyme honey is entirely optional, however the earthy sweet flavour, herbal notes and intoxicating fragrance is incomparable. If you can’t find J.Friend and Co, I’d suggest steeping some fresh thyme in another floral honey (heat it on the stove gently before adding some thyme stalks to soak). It’s the next best thing.

meringuetop

Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Wild Thyme Honey

Serves 12

For the meringue:

  • 6 large free-range egg whites
  • 300g raw caster sugar
  • splash of white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • a pinch of sea salt

For the filling/decoration:

  • 300ml very cold, full-fat whipping cream
  • 100ml crème fraîche
  • 4-5 tbsp (about 60-70g) lemon curd
  • 150g punnet fresh blueberries, washed
  • 200g fresh strawberries, washed and diced
  • 100g pistachio nuts, toasted and coarsely crushed/chopped
  • wild thyme honey (I used J.Friend and Co Artisan Honey), to drizzle (substitute your favourite floral honey)
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme, washed, leaves picked
  • edible flowers or dried rose petals, for garnish (optional)

Place your egg whites into a clean, dry bowl. Whisk them at medium speed until they begin to form firm peaks. With the mixer still running, add the sugar in a steady stream alongside the salt and white wine vinegar. As the mixture starts to thicken, turn the beater up to high speed and whisk for another 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture is glossy and smooth.

meringue

Rub a bit of the mixture between your finger and thumb; if you can still feel grains of sugar, whisk the meringue for a bit longer until the graininess disappears.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees c (300 degrees f). Line two flat-bottomed baking trays with parchment (I use a small dab of meringue in each corner to stick the paper to the tray) and draw a 20cm-diameter circle in the centre of each piece of paper with non-toxic pen or pencil (if you’re unable to find one, draw your circle on the parchment before you line your trays. Stick the paper on upside down so that the circle is still visible but the pen or pencil marks are on the underside).

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With a spatula, drop half of your meringue mixture into the centre of each circle, smoothing the mixture out to the edges of each circle. Try and ensure that the meringue discs are even in height and density. Place the trays into your pre-heated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, swapping the trays half-way through. When cooked, the meringues should be dry to touch on the outside, and slightly hollow when tapped. Leave the meringues to cool in the oven (temperature off, door slightly ajar) for one hour.

Whilst the meringues are cooling, prepare your filling. Place the whipping cream into clean, medium bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Mix through the crème fraîche, then refrigerate until you’re ready to complete your meringue stack.

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To assemble:

Carefully peel your meringue discs off the parchment paper. Dab a couple of teaspoons of whipped cream onto a cake platter (to stop the bottom meringue dish from moving) and place one meringue disc on top. Smooth over half of the cream mixture, then dab on the lemon curd (use a knife to gently ensure that it’s evenly distributed). Scatter over half of the strawberries and blueberries.

construction

Place the next meringue disc on top. Cover with the remaining whipped cream (leave about 1-2 cm from the edge of the meringue) then scatter over the remaining berries. Top with the crushed pistachio nuts, then drizzle with a little wild thyme honey. Scatter over the edible flower petals and thyme leaves.

aerialbetterblueberries1 meringuetop2

Note: My mention of J.Friend and Co artisan honey has been unsolicited and unpaid, based entirely on my positive view of this particular company and their products. The views expressed are entirely my own.

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126 responses

  1. so glad you brought me over to your site — your posts read like an Anna Quindlen novel, and your beautiful photographs bring it all to life. you have me convinced that i need to serve something with edible flowers this weekend, only i’m fearful that my pictures won’t turn out quite as nice. do you have a photography background? baking? writing? you do it all so well :)

    • Hello lovely. Thanks for the kind words. You know, I feel terrible but I had to ‘google’ Anna Quindlen… now I know who she is, you’ve paid me a ginormous compliment! I feel humbled to be compared to someone so accomplished. As for me, well, I guess you could say that I’ve been writing since I popped out of the womb. I have a three-quarters finished novel on my hard drive alongside a lot of other short stories. I did six months of creative writing at university but I’ve otherwise just fudged my way along. In terms of photography and food? That’s also just me playing around with what I have at home (I love every minute of it). You’re equally (if not more!) talented Jen. It was a pleasure to visit your honest, creative and beautiful space. I’m glad that we’ve found each other and I look forward to being inspired on each visit to your blog xxx

    • Hello lovely. Thanks for the kind words, so nice to ‘meet’ you! I’ve just stopped over at your blog so I’ll leave you a message there, but I hope that we’ll be blogging friends from now on. Take care xx

    • It’s delicious honey Yvonne, the thyme adds such a savoury richness to it… almost like blue cheese, if that makes any sense! I love pavlova. It’s one of my favourite desserts. I’m looking forward to making many more over the summer months! xx

    • Aw, thanks lovely. Haha, yep. I am still in ardent opposition but time disregarded my preferences! Now, one week into my thirties, it’s not so bad. More cake would make me feel better though ;) xx

  2. Happy Birthday Laura! Age is but at number as they say. As long as you feel good it doesn’t matter how old you are. I’m feeling better then I did in my early twenties, but then today my body demands sleep and healthy food.
    I love your pavlova, its just stunning. I love how you added the thyme pistachios and edible flowers. I haven’t seen that been done before. I’ve never liked pavlova but I imagine this would of tasted great.
    Did you do anything nice to celebrate or get any new toys?

    • Thanks so much hon! I appreciate it. Yes, my body demands a healthier lifestyle these days too. Probably a good thing, as though it frustrates me that I can’t get away with no sleep and junk food, I know that avoiding such things is ultimately better for me anyway. Glad that you’re feeling good in your skin now!
      Re celebrations, yes… Aaron took me down south for a week. We stayed in a little log cottage with a pot-bellied stove, drank wine and visited lots of parks and vineyards. It was blissfully quiet and relaxing. I got lots of food related gifts, haha… a cheese kit (for soft Italian cheeses), recipe books, measuring cups etc. And the camera, of course (eeek! That was the best gift!). Thanks again for the lovely message xx

  3. this looks so lovely! i’ve always wanted to try making a pavlova, and this just might inspire me to finally do it!
    also, i just stumbled upon your blog and it is beautiful!

    • Hello Ashley! Thanks so much for the kind words. I’ve only had a quick look at your blog so far but it’s beautiful! Love your philosophy and content (can’t wait to have a proper look through the archives). Definitely make a pavlova. They’re one of my favourite desserts; both light and indulgent at the same time. They’re easy too, when you’ve had a bit of practice. Thanks for the comment, I look forward to being blogging friends! xx

    • Hi Paula! So sorry that I somehow missed this comment… no idea how! I am so glad that you enjoyed your thirties. With some (older) perspective, I now honestly think that EVERY stage of life is to be celebrated, despite challenges. It is good to be alive, to be surrounded by those we love. I’ve made a decision to enjoy every minute! Thanks again beautiful xx

  4. happy birthday to you!! hope you had the most wonderful day! :)
    and this pavlova actually looks like on of the most delicious and pretty ones i’ve ever seen!!
    love the use of honey on it – sounds simply delicious!
    and such beautiful shots :)

    have a wonderful weekend! xxxo

    • Thanks beautiful. It was definitely delicious! Try to track down some of J.Friend and Co’s Australian range of honeys over there if you can. I heard about them the other day but they’re not stocked in WA at the moment. So annoyed!! I had a wonderful birthday, I feel so blessed to have wonderful family and friends. Hugs, hope your weekend is awesome also xx

  5. your photos laura are stunning and this looks absolutely Devine :) its positive hearing you celebrate your years instead of being sad about being another year older. We should always appreciate our lives :)

    • Thanks hon, I completely agree. It’s good to be alive, to be healthy and to be surrounded by those we love. Life is good, despite challenges! Thanks again for the sweet words xx

  6. Pingback: Incredible Pavlovas | Merlinblue

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