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Pavlova with Poached Apricots & Lemon

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Prep 20min (+2hr cooling time)Bake 1hr15minMakes 8-10 serves

I remember my mum making pavlova for my dad’s surprise 40th birthday party – lots of them. They were hidden all over the house, even under my bed. Pavolva is definitely a crowd pleaser and Mum chose the right dessert for a party. This pavlova is finished with a slightly tart topping of poached apricots infused with lemon – the perfect partner for the sweet meringue base.

Ingredients

Melted butter, to grease
4 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white vinegar
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
1½ teaspoons natural vanilla extract
300ml thickened cream

    Poached Apricot & Lemon Topping

    2 lemons, washed
    220g (1 cup) caster sugar
    185ml (¾ cup) water
    250g dried apricot halves

      Method

      1.  Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and then preheat it to 110°C. Draw a circle on a piece of baking paper using a 20cm cake tin as a guide. Place the baking paper, marked side down, on a baking tray.
      2. Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk on medium speed until foamy. Add the salt, vinegar and cornflour and whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form (this will take about 1 minute).
      3. With the motor running, add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking well after each addition, until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is very thick and glossy (this will take 4-5 minutes). Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Use a spatula to stir the meringue mixture to ‘loosen’ it slightly (this will get rid of any excess air in the mixture and give it a smoother, less ‘foamy’ texture).
      4. Spoon the meringue mixture onto the lined tray and use the back of the spoon to spread it to fill the marked circle. Make a well in the centre and build up the sides, creating swirls or smoothing the surface as desired.
      5. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, until the meringue is crisp and hard to touch, but not coloured. When the pavlova is cooked, turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar (see Baker’s Tips) and cool it completely in the oven (this will take about 2 hours).
      6. To make the Poached Apricot & Lemon Topping, use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind from the lemons in wide strips. Remove any white pith on the rind with a small sharp knife. Juice the lemons and measure out 80ml (⅓ cup) lemon juice. Put the lemon rind strips and juice, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the apricots and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 8–10 minutes or until the apricots are plump and tender and the syrup has reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
      7. To serve, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment or a balloon whisk to whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream into the centre of the pavlova and spread evenly. Spoon the apricots and lemon rind over the cream and then spoon a little of the poaching syrup over the top. Serve immediately with any remaining syrup served separately.

      Baker's Tips

      • Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door ajar if it won’t stay slightly open on its own when cooling the pavlova.
      • The unfilled pavlova shell will keep in an airtight container in a cool place (not the fridge), for up to 1 day.
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