Rich with cream, this one for you Carsten and Shaktigurl
Pavlova. Simply known here as 'pav'. Although the New Zealanders also claim it as their own, it is right up there with vegemite as an Aussie staple. If you had to think of one national dish, this would probably be it.
This creation is light as air and a thing of beauty. It was created and named after Anna Pavlova toured downunder in the 1920's. When made well, the delicate crust crumbles and melts in the mouth. Inside the meringue is soft, with just the very slightest hint of a chewy texture at the very edge. Just before serving it is loaded with whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit or chocolate.
Who other than an Aussie is best qualified to pass over all the secrets to making a perfect pav? After producing this creation last night for New Year's Eve (along with a zucchini chocolate cake), here is my recipe and tips for a result that will have people smile with contentment at the very first mouthful, pronouncing it is the best pav they have ever eaten.
Happy New Year everyone
5 egg whites
1.25 cups caster sugar
2 heaped tsp cornflour, sifted
1 tsp white vinegar
300 ml thickened cream
1 heaped tbsp icing sugar, sifted
Traditional topping I often use:
2 punnets strawberries, halved
2 kiwifruit, peeled, thinly sliced
Pulp of 2-4 passionfruit
1 punnet blackberries
Shaved curls of dark chocolate
Coffee added to the meringue (see below)
1 heaped tablespoon instant coffee ground with a mortar and pestle to a fine powder and added with the sugar
2 heaped tablespoons sifted cocoa added with the cornflour
- Preheat oven
- Line an oven tray with non stick baking paper with a 25 cm circle marked on the underside
- Whisk the whites until soft peaks form
- Add the sugar a teaspoon at a time, beating well after each addition (the aim is a silky smooth thick glossy mixture with the sugar entirely dissolved)
- Briefly beat in the vinegar and cornflour after the sugar has been completely incorporated
- Spoon the meringue onto the marked ring on the baking paper, keeping the edges rough and slightly built up with a flat smooth dipped in centre
- Bake for 1.5 hours and leave untouched to cool for another 4-6 hours.
- If not using immediately store in an airtight container
- Whip cream and sugar until soft peaks form and refrigerate
- Just before serving, top the centre of the pav with cream and pile on the fruit or chocolate.
- The eggs need to be at room temperature
- Make sure the bowl is totally grease free and that no bit of yolk has escaped into the mixture
- A pinch of salt enables the peaks to hold better before the sugar is incorporated
- Add the sugar very slowly and wait until it has dissolved (the mixture should not feel gritty if rubbed between your fingers or tasted). Undissolved sugar causes the pav to "weep"
- The cornflour helps to give a beautifully crisp delicate crust
- The vinegar gives a lovely marshmallowy centre
- Roughing up the sides increases the surface area and increases the ratio of the melting crispness. It also means the pav is less likely to crack in an unpleasing manner
- Any cold air hitting the pav while it is still warm will result in it collapsing, so exercise some restraint and don't open the oven door until it has completely cooled.
It is always a spectacular looking dessert: