The first time I heard about Pavlova was from my late husband, Stan, way back in 1988, when I first met him. We would talk about things we liked and Stan would say that this was his favorite dessert. I had no idea how the dessert looked liked since I had never seen it before. Describing food or desserts is not one of Stan’s forte. Stan is a basic steak, mashed potato, and buttered vegetable person. So describing a delicate dessert was out of his league.
When I settled in Sydney and saw what a Pavlova was – Voila! – now I had an idea of what it was.
Pavlova is named after this famous ballet dancer Anna Pavlova; she danced like she was flying on air. The airy meringue and fluffy cream topping takes inspiration from her graceful dancing.
I researched and compared several recipes before coming up with this one. I always baked Pavlova for special occasions because I found out that the children (Elaine, Paul and Michelle) all liked it and granddaughter Emily got double picks on the cake and strawberries.
I also like making baking as easy as possible for me. So to make the mould for this, Stan sliced a pail two inches tall and eight inches in diameter. This system helps in making a perfect circle with the perfect thickness. What I now use is the springform pan sides as mould.
A light and airy meringue-based dessert topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. The soft inside of the meringue is a pleasant contrast to the crispy baked outside part.
- Meringue base
- ¾ cup egg whites – about 6 egg whites
- 1 ½ cups (300 grams) caster sugar – set aside ¼ cup to be mixed with the corn starch/flour
- 2 teaspoons corn flour/starch – mix with the ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- ¼ cup finely ground cashew nuts
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream or ¾ cup whipping cream and ¾ cup heavy cream
- Sliced strawberries, kiwis, peaches, mangoes
- Whole berries (Blueberry, Raspberry, Pitted Cherries, Blackberries)
Preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F)
Line cookie sheet with baking/parchment paper 40 cm (16 inches) long and draw a 21.5 cm (8 1/2-inch) circle in the middle.
In a mixing bowl, place the egg whites with lemon juice. Beat the egg whites till you have big bubbles using low-medium speed.
Divide the 1 ¼ cups sugar in four parts and add to egg whites; beating well after each addition.
Beat the egg whites till you almost have stiff peaks.
Add the vinegar and the sugar with the corn flour/starch.
Continue beating and add the lemon extract.
Beat till you have stiff peaks but not dry.
Fold in the finely chopped cashews.
Spread the beaten egg whites within the circle you drew on the baking/parchment paper or use the circle of the springform pan as a guide (remember to remove the metal circle before baking).
Bake for 2 hours or till firm but not brown.
Cool for ½ hour and remove from baking/parchment paper and set on serving dish. Let the meringue cool thoroughly.
Whip the cream lightly until you have soft peaks. Spread on the entire top of meringue.
Decorate the Pavlova with the fruits.
Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
- Another technique to give the meringue a more decorative outcome, is using a pastry bag with a big star tip to pipe discs. Start by piping from the outer circle and work your way to the center. Pipe two layers. When assembling, put a layer of cream and a few fruits in between the meringue layers.
- Be creative with the fruit topping. Using all these fruits makes the Pavlova very colorful as you decorate the top of the cream with the fruits. You can place them whole or in slices. You can also put the fruits of your choice other than what is indicated.