The Elegance of Pavlova


Pavlova – the magic of meringue

A meringue based dessert with a whipped cream topping; the pavlova is a sweet cake that was invented in the 1920s. Originally named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, Australians and New Zealanders both lay claim to having invented this world-famous dessert.

It is said that a chef in Wellington (New Zealand) OR a chef at the Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, (Australia) created and named the dessert after the dancer, but its origins are uncertain. Regardless of where it came from, it is very popular both down under and in the United Kingdom. Alongside its meringue base and whipped cream topping, it is often decorated with either fruit or chocolate pieces to give it different flavours, colours and textures.

A pavlova has two main basic ingredients which are eggs and sugar. Other than these two ingredients, recipes tend to vary. To make a traditional pavlova, you will need 8 oz cater sugar, 4 egg whites, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 ½ tsp white vinegar, 4 tsp cornflour, and 600 ml double cream.

Start by preheating your oven to 130C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl. Continue to beat and gradually add the sugar. When this mixture has thickened, add the cornflour, vanilla and vinegar and beat well.

An array of toppings for your pavlova!

Once the mixture has stiffened, scoop it out onto the baking tray into a circle and create a slight well in the middle. Bake for 50 minutes until the meringue is crispy and is a slight golden colour, then turn the oven off and let it cool. Make whipped cream by whipping the double cream and sugar together then spread this on top of the meringue. Finally, decorate your pavlova with your topping of choice – fresh raspberries and some grated chocolate, or a variety of kiwi, peach and strawberry are all very popular traditional choices.

For a contemporary twist on traditional recipes, instead of a massive dollop on a plate, the Swiss roll style pavlova is very popular and is a lot more presentable. You can even use  wattleseed, the Australian herb to create a richer flavour. In this alternative recipe, sugar and lemon juice are added to the meringue mixture plus a layer of berry jam to neutralise the sweetness of the dish.

For further variations on this dessert, you can experiment with a good mixture of techniques and ingredients to make your perfect dessert. Plum pavlova, mixed berry pavlova, chocolate pavlova, and pavlova with crème anglaise are just a few recipes which have proven popular and offer a wide variety of flavoiurs and textures.

One type of pavlova you have to try is a Wattleseed Pavlova made with the unique ingredient wattleseed.

Find pavlova recipes on Recipebridge.

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Posted by RecipeBridge Staff Writer January 25th 2012
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