Sabrina Ghayour - exploring Yorkshire during Autumn

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham - Credit: Archant

Sabrina marks a milestone in Yorkshire with a mission to explore

Cinnamon pavlova with sweet labneh cream

Cinnamon pavlova with sweet labneh cream - Credit: Archant

The arrival of autumn reminds me that it's been a year since I put an offer in on the house which has now become my home in Yorkshire. How time flies!

To my shame we haven't had much chance to explore as I've spent so much of the year either on book tours, working in London or travelling abroad. Now things have calmed a bit, I'm on a mission to see as much of the county as I can, exploring historic houses as well as visiting some of the best-loved local hotspots.

One of the first places I had to tick off my list was Castle Howard; it's quite near me and the house and Howardian Hills surrounding it have fascinated me since I moved here. Influenced by the BBC show Gentleman Jack, I also found myself desperate to visit Shibden Hall and less than an hour's drive to Halifax brought us to the beautiful house and grounds. The story fascinates me greatly. Anne Lister, this incredible woman who gave us an amazing glimpse into her life through diaries which reveal what a formidable force she was.

Then we were in need of a sunny drive to Whitby. I am somewhat obsessed with Whitby crab and the idea of getting beautiful crabs straight from the boats is such a novelty.

This must-see list goes on. From historic Harewood House, to hopping on a steam train at the North York Moors Railway, to discovering this vast county of so many parts. I've not even scratched the surface!

So, as the seasons change, so do my comfort cravings. In colder months, I crave sweeter things and embrace abundant stone and orchard fruit as well as jammy, sweet figs. Granted, we aren't exactly famed for growing figs here in England but this month's recipe had to be this spectacular fig pavlova. This one hints at the new season with gently spiced cinnamon meringue and lovely fresh labneh cream (which you can buy from Yorkshire Dama cheese company or just use a strained yogurt instead), topped with fresh basil and mint for plenty of flavour.

An absolute treat for the autumn months and as with every good dessert, it will be gone in minutes!

Cinnamon pavlova with sweet labneh cream

Serves 8-10

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Meringues are ideal after a heavy meal because they feel a lot lighter and more digestible than many other desserts (or so I keep telling myself!). I use sweetened labneh and cream which really changes the character of a classic pavlova to something a bit different. The cinnamon meringue works beautifully with the figs, and Greek basil adds a refreshing touch.


For the meringue

6 large egg whites

300g caster sugar

1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

For the topping

600ml double cream

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

100g labneh

6 fat black figs, quartered

75g pistachio nut slithers (or roughly

chopped whole nuts)

2-3 tablespoons clear honey

handful of Greek basil

handful of mint, leaves picked, rolled up tightly and thinly sliced into ribbons


Preheat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan), Gas Mark 3. Select the largest baking sheet you have. Line it with baking paper, then draw a 24cm-diameter circle in the centre of the paper. Turn the paper over and you should still be able to see the circle, which you can use as a guide.

Using an electric hand whisk, whisk the egg whites in a large mixing bowl until stiff peaks form, then slowly add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is all incorporated into the egg white. Add the cinnamon, cornflour and vinegar and continue to whisk until they are well incorporated and the mixture is shiny and dense.

Fill the circle on the prepared baking sheet with the meringue mixture, then use a spatula to create peaks around the sides.

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 150°C (130°C fan), Gas Mark 2, and bake for 1½ hours, or until themeringue is cooked and crisp on the outside. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely.

Make the topping when you are ready to serve it. Using an electric hand whisk, whip the cream with the vanilla bean paste in a large mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Once the cream is nice and firm, but not over-beaten, gently fold in the labneh.

Spread the cream over the meringue, then arrange the figs on top. Scatter over the pistachios, drizzle with the honey, then sprinkle over the basil leaves and mint. Serve immediately.

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