A more “refined” pavlova than I’m used to. Usually I would just roughly spread the meringue onto a baking sheet, bake then top with copious amounts of fruit and chantilly cream. This one involved drawing a template for the base and piping little rosettes all the way round to contain the cream. Oh and cutting up the fruits and arranging in a nice way on the pavlova. I do like the more refined look, it tastes the same so why not spruce it up a bit :)
This recipe calls for quite a bit of sugar which means that it needs to be added to the egg whites more gradually and more time needs to be taken to whisk it in properly so that the whites stiffen enough to be piped. We had to whisk the meringue in true Westking style (no machines allowed!) and several of us had problems getting the egg to stiff peaks. We just about whisked our arms off, wondering whether there had been some grease in the bowl or whether we had added our sugar too quickly… in any case Chef took pity on us and let us get the mixer out :p
Makes approx 6 portions
3 egg whites
120g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1) Gradually whisk the sugar into the egg whites, until stiff peaks form.
2) Gently fold in the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour.
3) Pipe into a circle onto a silicon mat or baking paper and with a star nozzle pipe small little “twists” of meringue all around the edge. Bake for 50-60mins on 150c until the outside is crisp but the inside is still soft.
4) Leave to cool then fill the centre with whipped cream and any fresh fruit you like.
For week two of our sugar work classes we used isomalt, an artificial sugar substitute which is slightly easier to work with and once hardened lasts much longer. Because sugar easily absorbs water our roses from the previous week had completely melted overnight simply from the humidity in the air. These isomalt sculptures can last for a few weeks.
Left: Chef’s example Centre: my attempt Right: closeup
Our task was to create a sugar centrepiece using different techniques to craft pieces for the backdrop. It was great to get to be more creative with the sugar. We used textured silicon mats to get different patterns onto the sugar before letting it set up and then heating it again slightly so that it could be twisted and bent into different shapes. It was difficult to be creative with the flower in the foreground, mainly because I feel we don’t have the skills to be able to make realistic looking flowers. So I went for the “sci-fi” look, not entirely effective, but the best I could do with my one good hand.
For our third week of gritted teeth and heat blisters we were given free rein to make our own designs. At home before class we had to sketch out the idea for our mini centrepiece (also good practice for our final exam in which we’ll have to plan and execute a much larger centrepiece of either sugar, chocolate, pastillage or a mix of the three mediums).
I decided to go for calla lilies, a fairly simple shape and if done properly ought to look effective…
I didn’t want to use too many colours just so that it wouldn’t look too fussy and overwhelming, but with hindsight I think I should have broken up the red with some other colours, or even chosen a less intense colour. Overall I was happy with my mini centrepiece because I achieved what I had planned, but I still have a lot to learn when it comes to designing and understanding what looks effective and what doesn’t when designs are then realised.
These are some of my classmates’ creations, aren’t they beautiful?
I feel like with sugar work, unless you’re really good, abstract is better and different colours should not be shied away from. Fingers crossed I can make the sugar work better for me in our final exam.