Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the summer: warm mornings, holidays, swimming in the sea, Pimms, long lunches – and Pavlova. This Pavlova, though, is inspired by the autumn hedgerow, bursting with ripe elderberries, tart blackberries and sugary, fried windfall apples. Wet walnuts, found in markets and farm shops during the autumn period, are fresh, sweet and milky.
✻ a dash of sunflower or walnut oil
✻ 2 small–medium dessert apples,
quartered, cored, then each quarter
cut into 2 or 3 wedges
✻ 1–2 teaspoons golden caster
✻ 300ml (10½fl oz) double cream
✻ ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
✻ 2 handfuls of blackberries
✻ 1 or 2 sprays ripe elderberries,
✻ 35g (1¼oz) shelled wet walnuts, or
walnuts, or hazelnuts, roughly broken
for the meringue
✻ 4 egg whites
✻ 200g (7oz) golden caster sugar
1. Heat the oven to 120°C/235°F/gas mark 1. First, make the meringue. Place the egg whites in a large, clean bowl. Whisk with a hand-held electric whisk until they form and hold soft peaks. (You can do this in a food mixer with a whisk attachment, if you prefer.) Keeping the whisk running, add 1 large spoonful of sugar at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated. Continue to whisk for a further 6–8 minutes, until the meringue is thick, pale, smooth and glossy.
2. Lightly grease a sheet of baking parchment and lay it on a large (at least 30 x 30cm/12 x 12in) flat baking tray. Spoon the meringue onto the parchment, trying to make a large round with slightly peaked edges – it doesn’t have to be perfect.Bake the meringue in the oven for 25–30 minutes, then turn down the heat to 90°C/185°F/gas mark 1/2. and bake for a
further 2 hours, until the meringue has formed a crisp shell. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. (If you’re not using the meringue straight away, store it in an airtight container.)
3. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat, then add the apple. If the apples are a little tart, add the caster sugar and stir. Cook the apples for 4–5 minutes, turning them over occasionally, until they have taken on a little colour and are beginning to soften. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
4. In a clean bowl, whisk the double cream with the vanilla seeds until thick and pillowy. Spoon the cream over the
meringue base spreading it roughly out towards the edges. Arrange the cooked apple pieces over the cream. Scatter
the blackberries over the top. Finally, sprinkle over the broken-up wet walnuts (or walnuts or hazelnuts) and the elderberries, and serve.
Recipe taken from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, £25, photography Andrew Montgomery