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11th August: Nana’s Pavlova

A while ago I promised you a post all about my Nana’s pavlova.

You can keep your Mr Kiplings and your Sara Lees. My Nana is a legend. Her baking and puddings are beyond amazing. The amount of confection she produces from her modest kitchen, seemingly effortlessly, is staggering. It has mystical effects too. My cousin, a strapping Kiwi, has been known to fall into a sort of trancelike state after ingesting an absolute shitload of her wonderful boozy trifle.

Whenever we visit her, or if someone is driving down to see us, she loads up tub after tub of Bakewell Slice, Choccie Fudge, homemade shortbreads. There are Boiled Sultana cakes, Victoria sponges, Christmas cakes, coconut marshmallow things….the list is endless.

As a new mum, when I couldn’t even seem to find time to make myself a cup of tea all day, I truly believe that nana’s baking prevented me from starving. I’d stuff one of her cakes into my ravenous gob every time I went into the kitchen.

Her recipes are not for the weight-conscious. The reason it all tastes so amazing is because she uses proper old-fashioned ingredients. Lard, suet, full-salt full-fat butter. Now you know where I get it from! She has those proper cold, soft nana hands. Evolved over generations to be the perfect temperature for producing absolutely perfect pastry. And it is. Try as I might, my clammy mitts never quite produce the same results. Ho hum.

As a couple, her and my Grandad are my marital role models. Never have you seen two people take such delight in each other. The twinkle and giggles continued right up until my grandad passed away a couple of years ago. And by that time they’d been married over 65 years. Wartime sweethearts, they’d spent their youth dancing at Blackpool Tower Ballroom and The Winter Gardens. I love pictures of them in their heyday. Grandad dapper in his RAF uniform. Nana looking like some Hollywood starlet.

It got me to thinking. What on earth would they have made of us if we’d’ve been next door neighbours back in the day. What would they have thought of our 3am “it’s your turn to get up” “NO IT’S YOUR F***ING TURN” rants at each other? Or if they overheard me puking in the toilet after a night of excess? Did Grandad ever have to prop Nana up as she staggered home from a night out? Extremely doubtful.

So, my hope is to forever be as sweetly and happily married as my grandparents were. To laugh with eachother, to dance with eachother, to be kind, sweet and considerate to one another.

Inevitably I will be sick and get drunken jelly legs innumerable times in the years to come. I will doubtless moan about His messy messy ways and his endless capacity to jeff off playing golf/riding his bike/inviting himself on stag dos. But. I will endeavour to curb my potty mouth and try to remember what it was to be 16 and madly in love. In short. I will try to always ask myself “What would Joan and George do?”.

So, to the Pav. My very favourite pud. You are lucky to be getting this recipe. Let me tell you that now.

Heat oven to 170*C. Take 4 egg whites (room temperature), and beat with a pinch of salt and a pinch of cream of tartar until really stiff & peaks form. I use an electric hand whisk. Nana uses an old tarnished fork. Work ethic between the generations in action.

Add a tbsp water. Gradually add 7oz (250g) caster sugar, beating all the while. The mixture resembles the middle of a Tunnock’s teacake at this stage. Scrummy. Fold in 2tsp cornflour, 1tsp malt vinegar, few drops of vanilla essence.

The next bit is fun. Wet a big piece of greaseproof paper, wring out and place on a baking sheet. Then dollop on the mixture and shape into a big circle using a spatula. Bake for 10mins then reduce temp to 150*C. Bake for a further 50 mins.

When it has cooled, pile a load of whipped double cream and whatever fruit tickles your fancy. Tart fruits like raspberries/kiwis work well.

Today, it’s strawberries. The pav is an offering for a friend’s barbecue. Our friend the host plays air guitar with all the kids, much to our amusement. We scoff and quaff and generally make merry whilst the kiddies frolic. I get a couple of commissions for more pavs.

Told you it was good. Thanks Nana x

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