Sunday, April 24, 2022

Celebrate Spring with a Blueberry and Lemon Curd Pavlova: Celia Wakefield

 JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Once more, ladies and gentlemen, our own Celia Wakefield is here with an elegant, (relatively) easy dessert that will wow your guests and tastes like spring sunshine exploding in your mouth.


Good morning JRW’s and JRR all, it is such a pleasure to be back with you, and my grateful thanks to Julia et al for encouraging me to write more. As I am over my three score and ten, I am a little late to take up fiction or biography but memoir through food is most enjoyable.


I had lots of ideas to talk about but was side tracked by Hanks “Mystery in the Freeza!” The title alone along with the photo was enough to spur my imagination. Hank’s original photo when compared with liver in my own freezer certainly didn’t look anything like blueberries. I mourn with Hank the loss of those precious berries, particularly if she picked them herself. However, while I left it to the Facebook world telling her how to tackle freezing blueberries, not to mention what not to do.  But I have blueberry stories too.


Our first house in Chappaqua had a peculiar structure in the back yard. About 10ft by 10 by 10 with netting surrounding some bushes. I thought to myself, ‘well that’s coming down when we move in’. The previous owners were a pleasant couple who invited us for coffee and pie. This pie was a dark blue purple color like no fruit that I had ever seen in England or anywhere else that I had lived. I took the slice offered and cautiously bit into it. How delightful, so sweet and juicy and tangy and quite different from the berries I was used to eating. I asked what the fruit was and they pointed to the cage in the yard. Blueberries, high bush blueberries and in full fruit as it was summer. OK, we kept the cage but I really didn’t appreciate what we had. I would go in and pick 8 cups for a wonderful Gourmet Magazine recipe I found which Victor loved. Unfortunately that recipe has joined the great lost recipe raft somewhere.

However the opportunity to pick our blueberries turned out to be a most popular offering at local fund raising auctions. I think the top weight picked was twenty plus pounds of fruit. I’m sure I must have frozen some for us probably with the same result as Hank. But it wasn’t until we moved to Maine and bid our bushes goodbye that I really started to appreciate blueberries and what we had in Chappaqua despite the year battle with birds. Maine is a blueberry capital and while I don’t chose to crawl around picking the wild blueberries, we do have wonderful places to pick high bush around where we live.


I bring the blueberries home and freeze them on a cookie sheet. I don’t wash them. Really, most local farms don’t spray the fruits and we have had no problems. Once frozen and  then bagged, (this part is important to do at speed as they defrost very fast,) I’m set for the next step. I think you all make pies, muffins, scones, blueberry loaves and other baked goodies. I like to turn frozen blueberries into smoothies, just with a banana and some yogurt, or make blueberry sauce which is very like making blueberry jelly but you don’t have to get it to a set point (reached by testing its consistency after 20 minutes of hard boiling.) Store it in the fridge and there it is ready to pour over ice cream, pancakes or French toast.


Somehow I found myself hosting a small luncheon party on Easter Day. I needed a meal plan and found that my on-line grocer Big Tree Foods, was offering a par-cooked leg of lamb and some special potato dish and all I had to do is heat them and serve. But what about a dessert? I had saved a lovely article by Dorie Greenspan who has a new blog, xoxo Dorie which is all about baking for which she is famous. The article was about a shop in Paris where she lives part time, which sells only citrus fruits. You must read the article, I was amazed by the splendid choices of fruit. To go with the article, Dorie gave a recipe for lemon curd. I love lemon curd and the recipe looked very easy. Realizing I had not put in a recipe yet, what would be nicer than lemon and blueberries in an Easter dessert. I chose to make a blueberry lemon pavlova. Looking back we had a JRW pavlova recipe on March 28th 2021. You can follow the pavlova recipe for the shell or you can use another recipe for your shell or cake base. I made lemon curd from Dorie Greenspan's recipe as what I loved was its simplicity. And it works.


However I added a little hack. My days of play dough and other doughs are over and the idea of massaging the sugar and lemon zest didn’t appeal. Why not try my Cuisinart? I do encourage you to go to Dorie’s blog, first to look at the glorious photos and also to read her directions. I have put in a cut down version below but the recipe is hers, I am just trying to keep my fingers clean.




- Zest the lemons and combine with 1 1/4C of sugar

I measured the sugar and zested lemon into the Cuisinart bowl.


- Break 4 large eggs into a second bowl.


- Squeeze enough citrus to measure 3/4C

Prepared my citrus using 1 1/2 Meyer lemons, 3 regular lemons, 1/4 cup lime juice. This was squeezed into yet another bowl taking care not to allow pips into the juice.


- Cut 1 stick of softened butter into small cubes.



First whirl the sugar and zest until it’s all incorporated, then pour in the eggs with the processor still going.

The next step involves some dexterity so pour the juice down the funnel and add the butter.

Switch your processor to PULSE and pulse it for a couple of minutes until the mix looks reasonably incorporated. Dorie has great directions.

Pour into a heavy saucepan, whisking all the while until bubbles appears, and suddenly, just like MAGIC, the mix thickens as you remove the pan from the heat and pour into a glass bowl covering with plastic wrap.



Unwrap the pavlova, and spread a layer of lemon curd over the base generously.

Cover with blueberries and whipped cream.

And the moral is don’t toss the bag of mystery food from the bottom of the freezer until you find out if there is really treasure inside it. Hank’s bag - blueberry syrup possibly with some sugar, a little fresh lemon juice and a hit of Gran Marnier, makes a great addition to any dessert.


  1. Yum . . . this sounds spectacular . . . we're blueberry fans [blueberry pot pie is a favorite around here], so I'm definitely trying this. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe, Celia . . . .

    1. Most welcome Joan, a blueberry pot pie sounds interesting. What makes a pot a pie? I can only think of puddings made In basins rather like the summer pudding I did.

    2. Celia, the blueberries and sweet dumplings cook in a Dutch oven . . . here’s the recipe:

      Make sweet dumplings . . . .
      Mix together to make a soft dough:
      1-1/2 cups sifted flour
      2 teaspoons baking powder
      1/2 cup sugar
      3/4 cup milk

      In a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid, mix together and cook until it just comes to a boil:
      3 cups fresh blueberries
      3/4 cup sugar
      1/2 cup water
      1 tablespoon butter

      Drop dumpling dough by spoonfuls over the berries
      Cook 10 minutes, then cover the pot and cook another 10 minutes without removing the lid

      Serve warm

      If you like, top the berry pot pie with hard sauce or whipped cream or even some ice cream . . . .

  2. Fabulous, Celia - thank you!

    I'm glad you didn't take down that structure. I've been picking blueberries every summer for forty years. The three plants I put in nine years ago are thriving and I've been considering building a netting house for them!

    I don't bother with freezing them on a cookie sheet any more. As long as they aren't wet, they do quite well just popped in a ziplock bag. I nearly close it, suck the rest of the air out with a straw, then seal the bag for blueberries in baked goods and pancakes all winter.

    1. Also, both Rhys and Julia gave lovely GOH speeches last night!

    2. EDITH: Congeatulations on receiving your 2020 Agatha teapot. Those photos and others from Malice have been fun to look at! Enjoy your Sunday at Malice.

    3. Edith, such big Congratulations and I hope it’s a useful teapot. I will go and search for your photos, I loved the one on Fb you posted yesterday. Glad to know the speeches were great. I like your blueberry hack a lot and will use it, thanks.

  3. CELIA: Yum! Great sugar & lemon zest hack. I have my go-to lemon curd recipe but a mixed citrus curd sounds like a fun alternative.

    I do subscribe to Dorie's newsletter but don't regularly read her blog (like I do with JRW). Thanks to her tip about that citrus shop in Paris. One more place to add to my list to check out since they have do many citrus fruits that I have never heard of or tried.

    And yay to HANK for figuring out what her mystery freezer item was. I had thought it was a sauce but not blueberries!

    1. So glad this was enjoyable, and useful too Grace. I just love lemon curd. The interesting thing was the pavlova held up in the fridge. There was one slice left and we shared it yesterday. Six days and no weeping etc. though the meringue was a little soft in

  4. Lovely, Celia, and Happy Easter! Blueberries in lemon bread are wonderful, as well as your pavlova. The NYT has pavlova recipes today, too.

  5. I've never eaten or made a pavlova, but I have ambition to do both. Thanks for the recipe hacks, Celia -- and the lovely video. I especially liked seeing your guests salivating in the background!

  6. Thank you for the recipe, Celia! The other day when I was at Costco I bought a big bag (maybe five pounds, what was I thinking?) of lemons, and have since wondered what to do with them. We are having a dinner party Friday night for two special couples, and your delicious sounding recipe will do nicely as dessert.

    The first time I had lemon curd--and fell hard for it--was while staying with a lovely British couple in Florida while Steve was still doing Audubon lectures. They gave us scones with homemade lemon curd for breakfast, and after my raptures our hostess gave me her recipe. I've never had the guts to make it, though, since I'm an infamous sauce breaker. With your inspiration I'm going to try it, Celia.

    Our garden now includes seven blueberry bushes, three of which are in bloom right now, and all planted in raised beds so they don't get wet feet. And I have bird netting on hand. Bring on the berries!

  7. Celia, Thanks so much for the recipe. Unfortunately, I can no longer eat meringue but blueberries. Oh, yes. Blueberries. I bag them up the minute they appear at the farmer's market and freeze them. Then, I have them all winter long. I usually just douse them with fresh made custard and some cinnamon or make a clafoutis. Though by this time of the year, I'm thinking it is time to turn some into syrup.

    Come to think of it, I have some candied lemon peel in the freezer too. As an experiment, to see if it would survive. And some very special farmer's butter. I can see curd in our near future.

  8. Yum. And that's my only comment!

  9. I'm sure that would be absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing. Lemon curd seems to be very similar to the lemon pie filling I make. Since that's the only part of lemon meringue pie I really like, I think I'll go with curd. I cannot wait for my blueberries to be ready to eat. Besides just eating them right off the bush, I make my sour cream muffins, adding in some lemon zest. I try not to save any in the freezer because too often I have wound up with Hank's Mess, which is what I will call if from now on!

  10. This looks lovely and yummy and so great that the parts can be made in advanced and then assembled when ready serve.

  11. Oh. I do love lemon curd, and lemons and blueberries are a favorite combination.
    Thanks for the recipe, Celia

  12. That looks so good! I love anything with lemon curd.

  13. I am laughing and laughing! SO happy that my disaster became your inspiration! And I think my problem was that I washed them and then did no properly dry before I put them on the cookie sheet to freeze.
    And this recipe looks amazing! YUM. Lemon and blueberries is so divine.

  14. Celia is having internet troubles, but she'll try to get on later and answer all your comments!

  15. In Italy, a pavlova is a baccone dolce. Often with raspberries and chocolate. I would substitute raspberries because-- and I realize I may be the only human to say this--I really dislike blueberries. My late cousin Pam was always inviting me to the weeklong blueberry festival in southern Michigan. Not my thing.

    My mom used to make a 4th of July cake with strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream. I could avoid the blueberry part. But I think sometimes it had cherries for the red part. While I love dark sweet cherries, I do not like the sour ones people use for pies. Door County (Wisconsin's Cape Cod, the thumb that sticks out into Lake Michigan) is famous for its cherry pie, but I won't eat it.

    Owen was a terrific baker. I can manage my grandmother's cinnamon bars, but aside from those, I only bake to test recipes if I'm writing a food article.

    The sad thing is, people are always giving me blueberries. They rot in my fridge if I can't re-gift them. I do love lemon, though. Sometimes I'll buy a marked-down lemon merengue pie, eat the innards, and throw away the crust (I'm not really into pie, except for pecan, chess, lemon, and SOME apple.) I know, I'm weird.

    There used to be a law in Wisconsin (the Dairy State) that restaurants had to serve all apple pie with cheese. A really good apple pie served with a wedge of cheddar is to die for!

    1. Ellen, I'm with you on the pie thing. I'm not a fan of pie pastry or over-cornstarched fruit. And while I'd eat blueberries until the cows come home, I truly dislike strawberries.

  16. Celia, sorry to be so late today! But the pavlova looked delicious, and so pretty. I love blueberries, I love lemon curd, I love whipped cream, so while I don't often eat anything as sweet as meringue, your dessert would make a lovely treat!