The story goes that when the great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, visited Australia in 1935, Herbert Sachse, the chef of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth knocked up a dessert in her honour.
I understand the New Zealander’s also make a claim of being the first creators, but regardless of who is responsible for the existence of the Pavlova, this is a beautiful summer dessert and not at all difficult to make.
The Pavlova is simply a meringue nest filled with whipped cream and topped with seasonal fruit. I added a home made strawberry coulis for a little added something.
Instead of one large meringue nest, which can be difficult to handle once cooked, I opted for two small nests, each one serving two people. Of course, you could have a go at making one-serve nests, or just be a piggy and eat a whole two serving Pavlova!
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F)
3 egg whites
a pinch of salt
4oz of castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 level teaspoons of cornflour
- Add the egg whites to a bowl with the pinch of salt and whisk until stiff
- Keep beating as you add the sugar gradually
- Still beating, add the vinegar, vanilla essence and the cornflour
Grease a baking tray and line with baking paper.
Now spread the meringue onto the baking paper to form circles the size you desire. You need to create a nest, so build up the outer edge so that a hollow is created in the centre. This is where the cream and fruit will go, so make it deep and wide enough to accommodate it, but be sure to make the outer walls and base thick enough to hold together when you are working with it later.
Turn the oven down to 130C (250F)
Place the meringue(s) into the oven and set the timer for about an hour. You will need to keep an eye on them as different sizes and thicknesses will require different cook times.
You’ll know when they are ready to come out of the oven when they take on a slight golden tinge and the smell of cooking sugar is apparent when you open the oven door.
I like my meringue to be a little soft and gooey in the centre, so I simply test with a little prod with my finger, if you like your meringue crisp you can simply pop it back in the oven until you are happy.
I don’t use measures for this, so if you are a lover of precision you may wish to google a coulis recipe.
- Remove the stalks of the strawberries and chop into small chunks.
- I add these to a pan with a few tablespoons of sugar (I don’t like it too sweet) and add water so that the fruit is just covered.
- Bring this to the boil whilst stirring continuously. Then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Be sure to keep stirring to prevent the sugar burning.
- When the fruit is soft and the water has reduced to make a thick sauce, remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
- Once cool, blend using a hand blender to make a smooth coulis.
- Set aside until needed.
Using a cream with a minimum milk fat of 35%, such as thickened or double cream, whip until thick.
Slice up some seasonal fruit. I am using Victorian strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and passionfruit.
Construction of the Pavlova
- Carefully place the meringue nest onto the serving dish
- Add the whipped cream into the centre of the nest
- I then added a layer of passion fruit
- Top the dessert with the fruit you like, I have used seasonal berries
- Drizzle a few teaspoons of coulis over the fruit and it’s ready to serve
Grab a spoon, dig in and worry about the diet tomorrow!