This is a Spring pavlova to make the most of early season rhubarb and the end of the citrus season, well before any of the soft fruits or stone fruits are in season in Europe. I love desserts with fruit, much more than with chocolate, so Spring and the Hunger Gap can always feel challenging for puddings.
This is a real celebration dessert, it will easily feed twelve people. I made it for our Easter family party this year and it was perfect after a rich, roast lamb dinner, indulgent and sweet but still light and fresh.
If you wanted something even fresher this would also be yummy if you swapped the whipped cream for Greek yoghurt and drizzled everything with a bit local honey at the very end. You will probably have a bit of the St Clement’s Curd leftover, delicious on toast, scones or crumpets.
For the St Clement’s Curd:
100g caster sugar
1 orange (juice only)
1 lemon (juice only)
3 large eggs, whisked together really well
For the Roasted Rhubarb:
75g brown sugar
1 tablespoon of water
For the Meringue:
6 large egg whites
375g caster sugar
2 teaspoons of cornflour
For the Topping:
500 ml double cream, softly whipped
3 oranges, segmented (this means all the pith and membrane removed, if you have never segmented an orange then check out YouTube for lots of useful ‘How to’ videos)
50g pistachios, lightly roasted in the oven for 5 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius and roughly chopped
Firstly make the St Clement’s Curd, you can make this up to a week in advance ready for pavlova assembly on the day.
Melt the butter over a low heat. Add the sugar, lemon juice, orange juice and whisked eggs. Stir over a low to medium heat using a straight-ended wooden spoon until the curd coats the back of the spoon. I find it usually takes about 20 minutes. If there is a little bit of egg white that has congealed in the curd, just strain the curd through a sieve. Put the curd in a jar and once it is cold store it in the fridge.
Make the roasted rhubarb. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Cut the rhubarb into 5cm lengths and put on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and one tablespoon of water. Add a few strips of orange zest from the oranges you have set aside for the topping.
Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until soft but still holding its shape. Allow to cool.
Next, make the pavlova. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. On a sheet of baking parchment draw a large circle 25cm across to use as a guide for the pavlova. Turn over the baking parchment, you should still be able to see the line. Use the baking parchment to line a large baking tray.
Using a stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. Now add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until all the sugar is incorporated and the meringue mixture is stiff and shiny. Finally, sprinkle over the cornflour and gently fold it in using a spatula or a metal spoon until it is completely combined. Be very gentle so you don’t want to knock the air out of the egg whites.
Spread the meringue out on the baking parchment using the circle you have drawn as a guide. Use a palette knife or spatula to smooth out the sides and top, though it doesn’t need to be too neat. I like to make the edge of the circle of meringue a bit higher than the middle so the filling sits a bit inside the meringue.
Put the pavlova in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 150 degrees Celsius. Bake for one hour. Turn off the oven and slightly open the oven door. Allow the meringue to cool in the oven until it is completely cold. This is to reduce cracking, but I still get some cracks and I don’t worry about it, it just adds to the rustic beauty of the dish.
Now you are ready to assemble the pavlova. Gently remove the meringue from the greaseproof paper and put on a large platter. Spread at least half of the St Clement’s Curd all over the meringue. Now spread all the softly whipped cream over the top of the curd – it’s nice if a bit of the orangey lemony curd peeps out the side. Decorate with the orange segments and roasted rhubarb, dot on some more of the St Clement’s curd and finally sprinkle with the pistachio slivers. Serve as soon as possible or at least within the next couple of hours.