the less glamourous sister-of-pavlova. a generous pudding from the privileged sons of Eaton College circa 1930’s. today it has suffered various incarnations but as far as a fool proof answer to dessert goes…who can argue something that is this edible even after it’s been dropped on the floor. although i follow heston blumenthal’s guardian recipe in general, i regularly make my own variation with tart berries, frozen or not, sneaking in almost a gill of creme de cassis. it’s super pudding stuff to shovel at sunday lunch.
There is something unashamedly wicked about this dessert. An interesting aside is that the seeds of the strawberry (ie, the ones visible on the outside of the fruit) are, in fact, the fruit itself. The red-fleshed berry is not the true fruit of the plant. So, after that useless piece of information, here is the recipe.
Ideally, start preparing this an hour before serving. These quantities will feed four at a delicate dinner party or one at a strawberry-frenzied diner: the more of it you make, the more will be eaten. If you’re making your own strawberry juice, you’ll need to start it the day before, because it needs to be hung overnight to drain.
450g strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
1 level tbsp unrefined caster sugar
250g meringue (recipe below)
250ml whipping cream
Strawberry juice (optional; recipe below)
Place the prepared strawberries in a bowl. Sprinkle over the sugar, mix carefully and set aside at room temperature. Meanwhile, break or chop the meringue into roughly the size of penny pieces.
In a cold bowl, lightly whip the cream. It is important that it is not overwhipped - it should still be pourable. Mix with the strawberries and meringue, drizzle with strawberry juice (if using) and serve. It really is as simple as that.
250g egg white
250g caster sugar
250g icing sugar, sieved
Preheat the oven to 110C. Whip the egg white and, when soft peaks start to form, add the caster sugar. Continue beating for five minutes, then add the icing sugar. Beat slowly for five more minutes. Spread the mixture on to a nonstick baking sheet and bake for two hours, or until the meringue is crunchy and dry. Leave to cool on a rack.
This produces a wonderfully pure juice that will keep in the fridge for several days and has many other uses, from pouring over ice cream to the base for a cordial. (The method works equally well with raspberries.) These quantities will make 250ml of juice, though it can be reduced to taste. The fructose intensifies the strawberry flavour, but this will still be delicious with sugar instead.
750g strawberries, washed and hulled
70g fructose (or icing or caster sugar)
Quarter the strawberries and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the fructose (or sugar) and cover with clingfilm. Choose a saucepan over which the bowl will sit snugly, fill with 3-4cm water and place over a very low heat. Place the covered bowl on top of the pan and leave for an hour and a half; the water should be only lightly simmering. Take care not to let it evaporate and top up as necessary.
When the time is up, carefully lift the bowl from the pan and remove the clingfilm. Place a clean, unused double muslin or dry J-cloth in another bowl, so that it lines the bowl and hangs over the edges. Tip the still-warm contents of the strawberry bowl into the cloth-lined bowl. Gather together the edges of the cloth, thereby enclosing the mix; you should now have a bag-shaped package. Using string, tie shut the neck of the bag, then hang the sack from a shelf of the fridge. Place a bowl underneath, to catch the juices, and leave to drain overnight. Next day, discard the contents of the sack - all of the strawberry flavour will have been taken out of the fruit, so there won’t be much to be gained from eating it.
· Heston Blumenthal is chef/proprietor of the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire www.fatduck.co.uk.