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Sparrow Bakery's Whitney Keatman offers a crowd-pleasing dessert for picnics

"My picnics are more European-style," explains Whitney Keatman, co-owner of the popular Sparrow Bakery, "a baguette, cheese, jam, maybe salami."

But what about dessert?

We asked Keatman for a pie recipe, but she wisely provided us with something better—gluten-free, fruit-forward and, as she explained, "easier than struggling with pie dough."

She adds that summertime baking is "all about fruit, and different recipes where the fruit is raw so that the oven is a little less used."

An Eastern European meringue-based dessert (fittingly named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian dancer and probably the world's most popular ballerina of the late 19th century), this is a simple crowd pleaser for your picnics:

Fresh Fruit Pavlovas (gluten-free) Recipe makes 8

Meringues

1 ¼ cup sugar

5 egg whites

Pinch of salt

Best prepared the prior evening: Preheat oven to 150.

Combine ingredients, and place bowl over sauce pot of simmering water. Whisk and constantly stir.

Whisk on low (in an electric mixer) for one minute; then increase speed to medium high. Look to form stiff peaks.

Scoop stiff meringue out of bowl with a large serving spoon; use second spoon to push meringue off the first spoon and onto a bake tray that is either lined with parchment or sprayed with pan spray.

Make a little well in the middle of each meringue with the back of the spoon.

Bake at 150 degrees overnight (about eight hours). Note: Even if your oven only goes down to 200 degrees, you will need to bake for a significantly shorter time.

When done, they will lift easily from the tray.

Whip Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

powdered sugar

Fix electric mixer with whisk. Begin whipping cream on low, and gradually increase speed to medium high. Watch carefully. When you see the cream forming "body," add vanilla and powdered sugar (a little or lot, depending on your sweet tooth). Continue whipping until cream is full bodied and stiff.

Use a large serving spoon to scoop a healthy amount of whip cream into each pavlova. Top with fresh fruit. Our favorites include: Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, plums.

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