03 December 2012

Summer baking . . . the magnificent pavlova

 Greetings all,
A fantastic way to bring the taste, smell & colour of Summer together is to plop fresh fruit & whipped cream a-top-a meringue = the magnificent pavlova.  The story goes . . . an Australian chef created this dessert for visiting Russian Prima Ballerina Anna Pavlova.  New Zealanders claim they created it, whatever, it tastes delicious.  All i know is my English, chef trained, ultimate-1950's-house-wife-mother was the Queen of the Pavlova & it was essential eating after a Summer BBQ.    
As a child, i remember my job was to slowly, every slow delicately, add the caster sugar to the egg white peaks in the Sunbeam mixmaster, so the sugar dissolved perfectly.  This is a skill i've passed onto my 4 children purely so i can blog & fiddle around, while they painstakingly stand by the KitchenAid with a tablespoon . . . performing 'the most important job in the world!!  Especially as my husband LOVES pavlova, he is very judgey.
There are vital parts to the making of a pavlova - the meringue has to be perfect.  The delicate addition of sugar; baking it on foil; cooking it slowly in a cold oven; patiently letting it cool; & transferring it from baking tray to serving platter with extreme caution.  For fear of my children eating aluminium, i carefully peel the foil off before plattering up, however, prepare to cry as your meringue base cracks & potentially sinks.  Fear not, it still tastes the same & whipped cream hides all sins!!  When i say whipped cream i mean - hold the mixing bowl over your head upside down & the-cream-doesn't-budge kind of whipping!!

The brilliance of the family pavlova includes asking the children which fruit they'd like to add & have them clean/ peel/ slice/ stone/ top & tail all the fruit they desire, then decorate it with gusto.  This strawberry pavlova below is the handy work of my 3rd daughter, aged 11, who was on an artistic mission & a strawberry binge!!  
Many will insist passion fruit is essential, i'm not going to argue, the smell of passion fruit growing on vines along my childhood swimming pool is pure bliss.  I'm also partial to an entire fruit salad a-top-a pavlova too.
There are rules, however, it depends if you're on a diet or not, as to how large, high or fluffy you want your meringue to sit & how thick a-layer-of cream you smear on top.  This mango adorned pavlova was mighty fine with it's 'thirds' layering.
My mother swore by the Australian Women's Weekly, however, i haven't been able to nail the tastey, firm yet fluffy pavlovas she mastered with the same recipe.  I am certain there was a missing secret ingredient.  Sadly, my mother has Alzheimer's & cannot remember if she tweaked the recipe.  So for many years i've fiddled around & have finally developed a fail safe, delicious pavlova, where my hero ingredient is using the freshest of egg whites . . . as in, laid-on-the-other-side-of-our-kitchen-window-by-our-gorgeous-hens THAT DAY kind of fresh!!
Why do i bother making pavlova when it takes a couple of hours & you can purchase them . . . mine cost about $5 to make at home, they feed our family of six, twice + you get to lick the beaters & make mini meringues for your children too!!  Oh & the fresh taste . . . drool.
5 egg whites 
(organic chicken eggs are a little smaller than 'regular' store bought eggs & have larger yolks, so i use 5 egg whites from our hens, in a recipe which would normally use 4 supermarket eggs)
 Cup of caster sugar
Tablespoon of cornflour
 Teaspoon of white vinegar  
Preheat oven to 120C & line a baking tray with foil.  Beat egg whites in mixer on high until soft peaks form.  Gradually add caster sugar until it dissolves (you can't feel any grains with your finger tips or on your tongue, just saying!!)  Beat cornflour & vinegar very slowly until combined.  Meringue should look glossy like a pearl.  Spread meringue on the tray, carefully forming a circle with peaks or swirls around the edge.  Bake for 75 minutes (don't let it go brown) & leave in the oven to cool with the door open.
Cream & Fruit
400ml thickened cream 
& spread generously over meringue base.  Add seasonal fruit of your choice. 
egg whites are laid with love, homebrand cream $2, road side/ market stall seasonal fruit $3
 (in Winter, tinned peaches are pretty fantastic!!)
Add a few drops of food colouring while mixing the meringue for a coloured base, ditto cream if you have a fun theme or just love colour.  
Whip cream with a teaspoon of vanilla extract & sprinkle of icing sugar for sweetness.
Create individual pavlovas for a dinner party . . . divide & conquer!!
This recipes easily doubles or triples for parties & the meringue recipe can be layered (halve the mixture, cook two bases separately, sandwich cream between them) for a pavlova sandwich.
What to do with the left over egg yolks??  Why make yourself a hearty pasta carbonara for dinner of course!!  Enjoy, love Posie


Just Martha said...

YUMMO is all I can say. The love and dedication you also add makes it taste very special. I'll put that on the list for feeding the relies at Christmas. Thanks

sharon said...

I've done it without the cornflour and agree that fresher eggs, and a clean clean bowl are essential for a well risen pav. (failures of course are still more than edible!) will try the cornflour next time. And I've found, my whisker beaters instead of the regular ones in my mixer also help. I might just make one this week for our end of school break up, a big one!

Lilli boo said...

Oh I so should try this!! I had a pavlova at our first official christmas party to kick off the silly season this year and I thought I love this dessert so much, why haven't I tried it? A goal for this summer...

Charlotte E said...

I'll be making a homemade pav this Christmas. We too keep chickens but I actually find their eggs bigger than your average supermarket egg. I'll be using the yolks in homemade custard but another good way to use them up is to make lemon curd which goes fantastically on top of the cream on a pavlova.

Mother Down Under said...

Your pavolvas look amazing!
I can't make them because I don't have a mixer!
But rest assured your pavolova will be the first thing I make once I get my hands on a mixer!

ally said...

Looks even more amazing here!!
I read a hint this week about heating the egg whites over warm water (in a bowl that doesn't touch the water) before beating but I don't know..
I make them when I have fresh eggs and I often make individual ones swirled with drinking choc for school fetes.
I've not tried foil...but I will!!

Jacinta said...

I luuuurve pavlova! And our chickens are laying lots of eggs now so must get baking. You could use the egg yolks to make homemade ice cream! yum. xo

Leah said...

Our recipe has a tablespoon of boiling water as well. Pavlova's my favourite summer dessert, but I'm resisting making one while the husbands away...

Leah said...

I use the women's weekly recipe in the cooking class cookbook, an original copy! It's just whites and caster, nothing else. The secret is like you say in the sugar dissolution, mine takes 30 mins to beat in the kitchen aid, I use 8 eggwhites though. It is almost cooked in the bowl. I bake mine on a round slightly larger piece of baking paper and the Pav stays on this round piece. Under that I put 2 criss crossed inch wide long pieces of baking paper that are used to help slide the Pav across to the serving plate. I also make furrows up the sides of the Pav and you get hardly any cracks. I have shared all my hot tips with you!! Xx

Pip said...

Yum, I don't bother with foil anymore and just use baking paper instead. I make custard for Portugese tarts with the leftover yolks, gorgeous when they are just warm from the oven.

dear molly said...

Oh man, you have got me hankering for a slice of that pav now :)
Our daughter is the pav maker here and uses the classic Edmonds cookbook, I'm going to suggest she try your version for Christmas if it's different.
Cheers Jennie

Tania McCartney said...

I want to swan dive into that!!

Jane said...

Ah Jennie, this brought back so many childhood memories for me. My Mum always made ours using foil. She never managed a crisp crust, She always turned it over to reveal the marshmallowy side.

By contrast, I use baking paper and produce both a crisp top and a soft centre. She can't quite get over it! j X