This rainbow pavlova is a celebration of fruit and colour. Meringues sometimes crack during baking and this recipe embraces any imperfections by highlighting them using edible gold leaf. I’ve taken inspiration from the Japanese art form Kintsugi, in which broken ceramics are mended with gold resin to create something even more beautiful. For once, you might end up feeling disappointed if your meringue comes out with no cracks.
For the meringue:
120g egg whites (around 4)
225g caster sugar
1tbsp vanilla bean paste
Food colour: yellow, orange, pink, blue
For the cream filling:
250g double cream
30g icing sugar (optional – adjust for sweetness)
1tbsp vanilla bean paste
A very small amount of icing: 50g icing sugar, plus enough water to make a thick but still pipeable paste
Black food colour
Edible gold leaf
Lots of chopped fresh fruit
Two strawberries for the top
Heat the oven to 120C/100C (fan)/250F/gas mark ½. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Put the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl. Whisk on high speed until firm peaks form, then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking for 30 to 60 seconds between each spoonful.
When all the sugar is combined, add in the vanilla bean paste and cornflour. Once the mixture is glossy with firm peaks, divide between four bowls. Stir food dye into each one so that you have four bowls of different colours: yellow, orange, pink and blue.
Spoon the meringue on to a piece of greaseproof paper in a circle, alternating between the different colours around the circumference. Then use the back of a spoon to give the pavlova a raised edge (you may need to use different spoons for each colour).
Bake for one hour. When the meringue is done, leave to cool. If you have the time, it’s best to leave it to cool gradually in the (switched-off) oven.
Meanwhile, make the icing by whisking together the icing sugar with a small amount of water. Add slowly until it is smooth and thick. Put two thirds of this into a piping bag. Colour the remaining icing black, and put in another piping bag.
When the meringue is cool, pipe white icing on any cracks and apply gold leaf on top. It might look better to extend the gold leaf beyond the cracks. If your meringue has no cracks you can either choose to leave it as it is, or apply the gold leaf anyway.
Next, whip up the cream filling. Add the cream, icing sugar and vanilla to a bowl, and whip until it reaches soft peaks. Spoon the whipped cream into the centre of the meringue, then top with a pile of fresh fruit. Use the black icing to pipe the faces on to two strawberries (making sure they are dry first), and place these at the top.
To finish, use a pastry brush to glaze the fruit with apricot jam (add a small amount of boiling water to make it spreadable) or a similar sugar syrup to make it shiny. Don’t glaze the strawberries with the faces, as this will cause the piping to spread. Then add bits of gold leaf to the fruit. Serve straight away.