An impressive dessert you can produce with pride, as it is as pleasing to look at as it is to eat. The bay influence is bold but not overpowering; which brings an interesting contrast to the sweetness of the meringue

Ingredients

  • 5 large free-range egg whites
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 400g fresh blackberries
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 300ml water
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 400ml whipping cream

Method

1 To make the pavlova, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Trace a 20cm diameter circle on silicon paper, then turn over the paper. Place this paper on a large baking sheet and set aside.

2 In a large, spotlessly clean bowl of a freestanding mixer, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

3 Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the meringue peaks are stiff and glossy. Take a little of the meringue mixture to use as a glue to stick each corner of the silicon paper to the baking sheet.

4 Use a spatula to lift the meringue out into the centre of the traced circle, and a small palette knife to smooth it out evenly to the edges, and smooth the top.

5 Reduce the heat of the oven to 130°C/ gas mark V, and bake for 2–2V hours or until you can easily peel back the paper from the base of the pavlova. Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova to cool completely, to avoid any further cracking.

6 In the meantime, you can make the blackberry compote; place the blackberries, bay leaves, water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5–8 minutes and then remove the blackberries and bay. Allow the remaining juices to simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes until reduced by half and has developed into a rich glossy syrup. Allow to cool completely and return the blackberries to the saucepan.

7 To assemble the pavlova, whip the cream until softly beaten and spoon onto the centre of the pavlova. Spoon over the blackberries and syrup, and serve immediately.

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