Lavender Apricot Pavlova
Lavender can be a tricky ingredient. While it works brilliantly in baking (both Lavender shortbread and lavender cake are firm favourites), I’m yet to discover a lavender ice cream that doesn’t have the vague whiff of a granny’s knicker drawer. If over used, it can taste a little soapy and overbearing. However, It pairs wonderfully with stone fruits like peaches, nectarines and apricots, which is very convenient because they’re all in season at the same time. Now!
To me, nothing says summer quite like a pavlova. So with an influx of lavender and a bulk buy of apricots, the happy result is this recipe. Whipped cream and yoghurt spooned over a pillowy pav, then laden with lavender apricots and a drizzle of the syrup.
For a long time pavlovas were something of an enigma to me, but I’ve since had the good fortune of a new oven and a free-standing mixer, which have both made all the difference. They’re now a little less intimidating and much more of a staple. This is my go to pavlova recipe and the toppings can be infinitely adapted. When using apricots, I like to combine a little yoghurt with the whipped cream, but, by all means use one or the other if you prefer. I tend to make the apricots and pavlova in advance and then assemble right before serving. Unfortunately, pavlova doesn’t keep particularly well, so it’s best eaten straight away.
For the apricots:
8 ripe apricots, washed and dried, halved and destoned.
Juice and zest of half a lemon
3 tbsp. runny honey
A large bunch of lavender sprigs.
For the pavlova
4 egg whites
250g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar, plus a little extra for wiping the mixing bowl
150ml double cream
150ml full-fat Greek yoghurt
To make the apricots, preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.
Arrange the apricots cut side up in a baking dish (ceramic is best). Drizzle over the lemon juice and scatter over the zest.
Drizzle over the runny honey, making sure there is a little pool within each pitted apricot. Pour over the water and scatter over the sprigs of lavender.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20- 25 minutes, by which point the apricots should be soft but still hold their shape.
Leave to cool. These can be made a day in advance, left in their syrup, covered and refrigerated.
To make the pavlova, preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Wipe both the bowl and whisk of a freestanding mixer with white wine vinegar. Place the egg whites in the bowl and whisk on a low speed until they form stiff peaks.
Add the sugar one spoon at a time, making sure its fully incorporated before adding another spoon. Once all the sugar has been added, continue to whisk until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
If you rub a little of the meringue between your fingers, the sugar should be completely dissolved and it shouldn’t be grainy.
Gently fold in the cornflour and white wine vinegar.
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Spoon the meringue onto the baking sheet, using a palette knife to shape into a circle and flatten.
Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 140C.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the pavlova in the oven until its completely cooled.
The Pavlova base can be made a few days in advance and kept in an air tight container.
When you’re ready to assemble your pavlova, carefully transfer it to a serving plate.
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, being careful not to over whip, Fold in the yoghurt and then spoon the mixture over the pavlova.
Scatter over the apricots, along with a drizzle of their syrup.
Decorate with a couple of lavender sprigs. Serve straight away