An accidental pavlova – Eaton Mess slice

Often some of my best recipes come from trying to rescue something that didn’t turn out quite as I’d like.  A case in point this week was a pavlova I’d made specially for a morning tea.  Duly whipped to the requisite stage, I heaped it onto the ovenproof platter and placed it in the oven to cook.  I was busy gardening so didn’t give it any attention – just had absolute trust it would turn out well as usual.

Maybe the eggs were too fresh, maybe the platter too thick to conduct the heat properly but whatever the cause, the result was less than stunning.  It was more like a 2cm high slice than anything.  I thought I’d make the best of it by cutting off the sides which had spilled over the edge of the platter.  When I did I found that the centre part was ok (except for its lack of height) – the lovely marshmallow centre was every bit as good as usual.

I spread it with a thinnish layer of sweetened whipped cream, then broke the cut-off side pieces into chunks (about 4cm each) and placed them here and there over the top.  I cut up strawberries and distributed them amongst the chunks and then covered it all over with more whipped cream and topped with mixed berries.

The result looked pretty impressive – much higher than usual after all.  I served each slice with a mixed berry coulis, made by simply gently simmering a range of berries with a little sugar until the juices flowed well and the sugar dissolved, then cooled.

Everyone loved this new invention which is a kind of Eaton Mess slice. I was so pleased with it in fact that I made it again a few days later, on purpose this time.

Here is the basic recipe for the pavlova, one that has been in my family for generations.  You can use chicken or duck eggs.  Use maize cornflour if you need the recipe to be gluten free.

You will need an ovenproof platter approximately 20cm x 30cm.

Basic Marshmallow Pavlova

6 egg whites

3 scant cups castor sugar

2 teaspoons white or cider vinegar

2 teaspoons cornflour

6 tablespoons boiling water

Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric beater (boiling water last) and beat until stiff peaks form.

Pile into the centre of the plater, which has been lightly grease and spread out with a spatula to within 2cm of the edges.

Bake at 110 degrees C for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and cook for a further 35 to 40 minutes at 90C until the pavlova has a crisp thin crust and when pressed lightly in the middle gives a little to indicate it has a marshmallow centre.

Remove from oven and leave to cool before decorating and serving as above.


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