This year for Christmas I baked a lot! We don’t have a big family, so we decided to make food the focus for Christmas Day. While the heat and humidity of our Sydney Summer provided a few challenges to my baking efforts, I really enjoyed having the time to bake and cook whatever I wanted, with Christmas being the ‘excuse.’
I made four batches of gingerbread, using this recipe, which remains my favourite. A made a gingerbread house, with varying levels of success. I was concerned about is structural soundness, however after just over a week of standing upright and remaining standing once a meat mallet was taken to it, I feel these concerns were slightly unfounded! Mostly, I would have liked it to look prettier, however for my first ever attempt, it’s probably not so bad.
A few tarts were made as well. All of them stemmed from using up lovely summer fruits that we had bought. Using the same case and filling recipe as the white cherry tart I made in my last post, I used raspberries and peaches, which was so good, then just plain raspberry, then I used up the last of the Christmas cherries to make a cherry tart for New Years Eve. I also just made a plum upside-down cake to use up the last of the plums. It’s safe to say that this holiday season has not been short of cake and sweet treats!
On Christmas morning I had prepared some of Sophie Hansen’s Buttermilk Jam Scrolls, which we ate with tea and some lovely fresh fruits. For Christmas Day lunch my Mum made a glazed ham, turkey wellington and a pear and goats curd salad. I made my favourite Summer Iced Tea. For dessert I created an Epic Pavlova. I call it epic as it was just something I thought I would try and see if it worked. And it ended up being the best pavlova I have ever made! I changed some of the ingredients from my Grandma’s original recipe, after looking at lots of other pavlova recipes. I wanted it to look a little festive, so I decided to decorate it with mostly red berries, and was particularly excited when I found red currants in the green grocer (first time I had ever seen them!).
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take many photos of the pavlova, as when I was assembling it, the Christmas Day weather began to turn bad. Thus there was no good light to shoot in. The shots I got were taken at a doorway to the balcony, door open to get as much natural light in as possible, rain coming down just beyond where the pavlova sat!
Here is the recipe for my pavlova. I used up some of the remaining egg yolks to make the frangipane fruit tarts (substitute one whole egg for two yolks), otherwise you could make some gingerbread or maybe some custard. The quantities for the fruit to decorate are just guides, as you can put as little or as much as you would like, there are no rules! Lots of different fruits are great for pavlova, however I would stick to things that complement rosewater for this recipe.
I made the pavlova layers on Christmas Eve and left them to cool in the oven overnight, and assembled just before serving on Christmas Day.
Ingredients for the Pavlova:
8 egg whites
500 g caster sugar
2 tsp raspberry vinegar
1 tsp rosewater
450 ml cream
1 tbsp rosewater
1-2 punnet raspberries
1 punnet blueberries
seeds from 1-2 pomegranates
1 punnet red currants
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line two large baking trays with baking paper, and trace a circle on each, approx. 26 cm in diameter (I used a dinner plate).
In a clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites for 5-6 minutes, whilst gradually adding the sugar. Add the raspberry vinegar and rosewater and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
Sift cornflour over the mixture, and gently fold to combine.
Place half the mixture on one tray, using the circle as a guide. Push the mixture around to form a circle, leaving a small border around the edges. Repeat with the remaining mixture on the other tray.
Turn the oven down to 125 degrees Celsius, and cook undisturbed for 1.5 hours.
After 1.5 hours, turn the oven off and leave the pavlova layers to cool completely in the oven.
When ready to assemble the pavlova, whip the cream and rosewater together. Spread half over one of the pavlovas and sprinkle with half the pomegranate seeds, half the raspberries and half the blueberries. Place the remaining pavlova shell on top. Fill the top layer with the remaining cream, and berries, using the red currants to form a border around the fruit on the top layer.
What did you make during the festive season? Let me know in the comments below!
All baking, styling & photography for this post by Kathryn Vincent of Kulinary Adventures of Kath.