Inspired by the flouncy, white tutu of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, this meringue-based dessert first appeared following her tour through Australia and New Zealand. Although both nations claim creation rights, the contest was somewhat settled in 2010 with the Oxford English Dictionary stating that the first version was baked in New Zealand in 1927. However, Australian enthusiasts can take comfort in the dictionary’s ambiguous entry, which still listed the origin as "Australia and NZ".
- 6 egg whites
- 330 g (1½ cups) caster sugar
- 1½ tbsp cornflour
- 1½ tsp white vinegar
- 600 ml thickened cream
- 40 g (¼ cup) pure icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 500 g frozen berries, defrosted
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat oven to 140°C. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites in a clean, dry bowl to soft peaks. Gradually add caster sugar, a little at a time, whisking well after each addition, until all sugar dissolves; rub a little of the mixture between your fingers – if it’s a little gritty, the sugar has not yet dissolved. Fold through cornflour and vinegar.
Line an oven tray with baking paper and draw a 24 cm circle in the centre. Using the circle as a guide, spoon meringue mixture onto baking paper, then, using a metal spatula, make a slight dip in the centre and form soft peaks around the edge.
Bake for 45 minutes or until dry to touch. Turn off heat, and allow pavlova shell to cool in oven.
Meanwhile, whisk cream with icing sugar and vanilla to soft peaks. Carefully spoon into the centre of the cooled pavlova shell and spread to cover. Just before serving, top with berries and their juices.
As seen in Feast Magazine, Issue 13, pg61.
Photography by John Laurie