Pavlova is a fluffy meringue dessert with a crispy exterior named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s, and there are many arguments as to who created the dish first. Matthew Evans, a restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald, said that it was unlikely that a definitive answer about the pavlova’s origins would ever be found. “People have been doing meringue with cream for a long time, I don’t think Australia or New Zealand were the first to think of doing that.” It is most likely whoever first thought of the dish was influenced by German tortes and cakes.
A classic Pavlova has a crisp and crunchy outer shell, and a soft, moist and fluffy marshmallow-like center. The principal difference from meringues is the addition of an acid such as lemon, cream of tartar or white wine vinegar and cornflour to the mix and a reduced cooking time as you do not want the Pavlova drying out. A traditional Pavlova is usually decorated with a topping of whipped cream and fresh fruit. The dessert is very popular in both Australia and New Zealand, particularly for parties, celebrations and at Christmas time.
Pavlova Serves 6-8
250 gr Caster Sugar
125 gr Egg White
2 teaspoons of Cornflour
1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
A few drops of Vanilla Essence
A pinch of Salt
Preheat the oven to 200 C /400 F/ Gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with baking paper and add the sugar. Put in the oven for five minutes. Meanwhile, whisk your egg whites – using an electric whisk – with a pinch of salt in a clean metal or glass bowl until foamy. Remove the sugar from the oven. Turn the temperature down to 120C/ 250F/ Gas mark ½, leaving the door open to cool it down quickly.
Add about a third of the hot sugar to the meringue and whisk for about three minutes. Add the rest of the sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition until all it’s used up. Add the cornflour, vinegar, and vanilla and continue whisking for another three minutes until you have a thick, glossy mix. Spoon the mix onto a baking tray lined with baking paper or a silicon slip mat in a large round or oval shape, thicker on the outer edges and bake for thirty minutes to set the meringues shape. If you can drop the temperature even further to 100 C/ 210 F/ Gas mark ¼ or prop the oven door open for another hour. Turn the oven off and allow the meringue to cool.