Two week ago, July 12th, marked our first anniversary...Hip Hip Hooray! Nick and I celebrated on the vineyard, with a kayak adventure, a mancala battle at the beach, and an amazing dinner at the Outermost Inn (which is right next door to the Gay Head Lighthouse, where we were married). In an effort to stretch the festivities to the max, as any good wife would, I wanted to whip up a confection for us at home - specifically something that felt, well, romantic.
Surprisingly, the Providence farmer's market had its first batch of nectarines last week. And after turning through one of my cook-crush's books, Nigella Lawson's Feast, all signs pointed to this Wedding Pavlova (the book is written as full menus for traditional feasts, from Thanksgiving to Easter to Passover and Eid). What's more romantic than an abundance of whipped cream and juicy fruit?
This may be my favorite picture of our wedding - just after the ceremony.
Nigella Lawson's Wedding Pavlova:
For the Meringue Base
- 8 egg whites
- pinch salt
- 2½ cups superfine sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch *I used arrowroot
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract *I used vanilla extract
- 6 passionfruits
- 3 white peaches or nectarines *I used nectarines, no passionfruits around
- juice of ½ lime
- 2½ cups heavy or whipping cream
- 1 cup shaved dried coconut *Nick doesn't like coconut so it'd be kinda mean to use it on our anniversary cake
Whisk the egg whites and salt until satiny peaks form. Then beat in the sugar, tablespoonfuls at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cornstarch, vinegar and coconut extract, and fold in lightly. Mound on to the baking sheet within the circle, flatten the top and smooth the sides. Put in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 300°F and cook for 1¼-1½ hours. It will have risen and cracked on the top and a little around the sides. If it is not dry and crispy on the outside give it a little longer. Then turn off the oven, open the door and leave to cool completely.
When you are ready to assemble the pavlova, blanch the peaches or nectarines in boiling water and slip off their skins. Cut the fruit in half and take out the pits, lay them in a shallow dish and squeeze over the lime juice to keep their color or “bleach” them. Invert the pavlova on to a plate and peel off the parchment paper. But if the meringue base hasn’t crumbled too much, it is the best thing to do, as it means you swathe the marshmallowy top (ie the inverted bottom) with the cream, and the two seem to meld together. If all is too crumbly, don’t bother. (*I just served it off the paper which was fine, it looked like it would crumble if I inverted it).
Whip the cream until thickened but still soft, and pile on top of the meringue, spreading it to the edges in a rough, swirly fashion. Cut the passionfruit in half, and scoop everything out into a sieve placed over a glass measuring cup and press through, so only the seeds remain in the sieve. Pour most of the juice over the swirly cream. Or just halve the passionfruits and scoop pulp, seeds and all, over the cream. Slice the blanched halved fruit into thin segments and arrange them on top of the cream and passionfruit juice. Then do a final pouring over of the remaining juice. Or, if you haven’t sieved the fruits, just give a little squeezing over of the empty shells.
Sprinkle the shaved coconut over the top of the pavlova, like wedding confetti.