Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.
The dessert is believed to have been created in honor of the legendary dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of the pavlova’s creator has been a fierce source of argument between the two nations for nearly a century and both countries consider it to be solely theirs.
Since TFD knows better than to put himself in the middle of a culinary holy war, he wisely abstains from the debate by naming his personal recipe after the region of Oceania, which includes both nations and will let history decide the ultimate victor. 🙂
Christmas and pavlova are an essential combination in both Australia and New Zealand. On a hot Christmas Day (remember, this is the Southern Hemisphere, where Christmas in in the height of Summer!) the luxurious pavlova, with its sweet crunchy meringue crust, marshmallow-like center, topped with clouds of cream and berries is just magnificent.
- You really do need a cake mixer with a whisk attachment, however a handheld beater will also work, you just need the patience to stand holding it.
- The bowl should be glass or metal.
- The mixer and bowl should be scrupulously clean and grease free. The reason for not using a plastic bowl is that grease can stick to this which will stop your egg whites from reaching their maximum volume.
- Eggs should be at room temperature and when separating, take care that no egg yolk makes it into the bowl at all.
- Very fresh eggs are not ideal as the whites are very thick: as the egg ages, the white thins and will create more volume when beaten.
- Caster sugar dissolves easier than regular white sugar, however if you don’t have caster sugar on hand, then you can whizz regular white sugar in the food processor until it is super fine.
- The more sugar you use in the recipe, the thicker and more brittle the crust will be.
Generally the ratio of sugar to egg is 55g of sugar to 1 egg white.
- Different recipes have varying stabilizers that help the egg whites to retain their volume and give the desired texture of a marshmallow interior and a crisp meringue shell.
- The addition of acid in a recipe is usual, sometimes a bowl will be rubbed with lemon or lemon juice, otherwise vinegar, lemon juice or cream of tarter will be in the ingredients.
- A small amount of cornflour is also often used and it is debated as to whether this aids the soft inner texture or just helps to stabilize the egg whites.
- A tablespoon or more of boiling water is also common.
- Try rubbing a little meringue mixture between your thumb and forefinger – it should feel smooth with no grains left.
- While it may then seem logical that the longer beating the better – this is not so. Over beaten egg whites will cause oozing syrup from your pavlova. Not weeping like an undercooked pavlova, but colored liquid bubbles popping out from the meringue itself.
- I would advise 15 minutes maximum of beating. Your mixture should be thick and glossy and form peaks when the beater is lifted from the mixture.
- This mixture is then piled into a circle on a baking paper-lined tray. Drawing a ring with pencil around the underside of the paper using a cake pan for guidance is a good way to get a uniform shape.
- Usually a pavlova recipe will have the addition of vanilla as a flavor. Quality vanilla extract is recommended for a pure flavor. Avoid vanilla essence as it is made with synthetic ingredients.
- Pavlovas are usually cooked at a long slow temperature and the oven door must not be opened at all! Once the cooking time is finished, the pavlova is left to cool in the oven so as not to have any dramatic change in temperature that could cause collapse.
- Some cooks start their pavlova off briefly at high temperature. I prefer to cook mine long and slow. Basically the cooking is to remove moisture from the pavlova – to dry it out, I find this is best achieved at 120 C or less. The higher the heat, the more chance you have of your shell cracking.
- You do need to make sure that your pavlova is thoroughly cooked though, as undercooked pavlovas can weep clearish egg white looking liquid from the base.
- Pavlovas are best stored in an airtight container and should be fine for a few days. Humidity affects this and it is said that you shouldn’t make pavlova or meringues on a humid day.
I hope you will give this wonderful dessert a try, Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
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