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Hi all! My name is Becca and I am a 21 year old from Berkshire, England with an interest in all things cake. I have only been baking for the past couple of years and if someone had told me 5 years ago that I would be a passionate cake maker at the age of 21, I'm afraid to say I probably would have laughed in their face! I have had many cake disasters in the past (including a Barbie cake for my friend's 16th Birthday that was still raw in the middle when she cut into it...) However one Christmas I opened my stocking to find a Giant Cupcake making kit, and hey presto, my love for all things sweet emerged. I have developed this blog as a way of sharing my baking experiences with others. I love to read other baking blogs, you can learn so much from them and discover some great new ideas. Plus I just love looking at photos of yummy scrummy cakey goodness ;) (possibly a touch of 'food pornography' going on there!) Whilst I am still on a massive learning curve with my baking, I will share any tips I have with you as well! Thanks for popping by! Love Becca xxx

Monday, 20 August 2012

Baking Challenge 1: Summer Berry Pavlova

As a lot of you will know the Great British Bake Off has just returned to our screens, turning a dull Tuesday night into one of excitement and happiness (well- it has for me anyway!) Last week I went out and purchased a copy of the new Bake Off book called "How to turn everyday bakes into showstoppers" and I must admit I am quite in love with some of the recipes in there (toffee apple and pecan pudding anyone?!)

As I am on summer break from college I have more free time on my hands than is probably good for me. So I have decided to set myself a baking challenge. I have picked a handful of recipes from the Bake Off book (some from the first book as well) and I aim to make as many as I can over the next few weeks/months/however long it takes to eat that much cake!!! 

I started my baking challenge this weekend. We had all the neighbours over for a BBQ so this was the perfect opportunity to put my skills to the test. Unusually for the UK we actually had a very sunny and warm weekend so I wanted to make something that was light and fruity. Low and behold the Summer Berry Pavlova...

I used the recipe from the first Great British Bake Off Book ("How to Bake") for 'Pavlova with Mango and Passionfruit' p254. Whilst this does sound delicious I had some blackberries given to me from my boyfriend's mum who grows her own fruit and veg so I wanted to make good use of them. I decided I would do the same recipe for the meringue but adapt the filling. You could really use any fruit for a pavlova. I chose blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.

I had never attempted meringue before but I have heard from others that it can be hard to master. I was determined to give it my best shot! I got all my ingredients ready. Eggs were at room temperature (which is apparently vital in increasing the volume of the meringue) and I had even managed to separate the egg whites without a trace of yolk! I whisked my egg whites in a grease free bowl, added caster sugar a tablespoon at a time...


Even though I was trying to be so accurate I had somehow managed to miss out a step completely! I was supposed to add the cream of tartar and salt before adding the sugar and then whisk the egg whites until soft peaks had formed, which I hadn't done! I was so annoyed with myself but I kept going in the hope it would still work out, knowing I had enough ingredients to do it again if not. I added the vanilla extract and cornflour then spooned it onto a baking sheet, stuck it in the oven and hoped for the best. Amazingly it still came out just fine!

Below is the recipe for the Summer Berry Pavlova which was actually very tasty and went down a treat at the BBQ! The meringue was just as it should be for a pavlova- crisp and airy on the outside with a nice chew in the centre. If anyone tries it let me know how it worked for you!

Summer Berry Pavlova
Serves 8

For the meringue

3 large free-range eggs at room temperature
Half teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
175g caster sugar
Half teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and a half teaspoons cornflour

For the filling

300ml pot double cream
Strawberries (chopped and halved if necessary)


Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1 and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place the egg whites in a grease free bowl and whisk until frothy (this should take about 20 seconds).

Add the cream of tartar and salt and whisk until whites stand in soft peaks.

Whisk in half the sugar a tablespoon at a time. Add the vanilla and whisk until whites stand in firm peaks (you can test the readiness of the whites by turning them upside down in the bowl- if they stay they are ready, if not then you will get covered in egg whites).

Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the rest of the sugar and sift in the cornflour. Incorporate these into the egg whites using a large metal spoon. 

Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray. You want to create a circle with raised edges so the filling has somewhere to sit. 

Bake in the oven for 1 hour 15 mins. When the meringue is done it will be very crisp on the outside. When it is cooked turn off the oven and leave the pavlova to cool in the oven completely with the door closed. This can take a while but it is essential. 

You should assemble the pavlova just before you serve it. If needs be you can store the meringue in an air tight container (or if you don't have a container big enough like me then you can wrap it in foil).

To make the filling wash and dry the fruit. Whip the double cream until it is thick, but be careful not to over whip it. I tested the consistency of the cream by seeing if it stayed on a spoon when turned upside down. Spoon the cream into the centre of the meringue and top it with the summer berries.

Happy baking and keep an eye out for my next baking challenge over the next few days...!
Love Becca x

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