Helene is a friend of mine from university. She has no food blog but she is a vivid follower of mine and a great home baker in her own right. She once before guest posted for me about the Easter Cookie cutters she won from my first give away. Give her a warm welcome.
Once again, Andrea asked me if I was keen to write a guest blog entry for her baking blog! And yes, of course I am. The struggle for me usually is choosing a recipe that I like since there are actually thousands!
I guess, many of Andrea’s recipes are influenced by Canadian and German cuisine, so I thought, now that I live in New Zealand, maybe I show you something that the Kiwis love to make: Pavlova.
To be honest, it won’t be completely new to you (but in a world of globalization, travel, internet, and recipe sharing worldwide) what really IS new to us…..
Pavlova is a meringue cake that is part of every important occasion here. So if it is the picnic by the beach, the birthday party or just a nice get-together, there is often a Pavlova and there are heaps of different types. Essentially, every Pavlova’s heart is a meringue base, which is then covered with cream and topped with fruit. You can get the base at supermarkets, so you can easily take it to the beach and just add cream and fruit. You can also fill them with cream, or have several layers of meringue and fill and add and garnish and so on, so the limits are only set by your own creativity.
So if it is a Kiwi icon, then why does it have a Russian name? Well, in the 1920s there was a famous Russian ballerina called Anna Pavlova, and she performed the “Dying Swan” in one of her shows in Wellington. The world was so fascinated by her talent and to capture this fantastic memory a Wellington hotel chef in 1929 invented the pillowy clouds of meringue to mimic her tutu and kiwifruit slices to copy the green roses that were interwoven into her costume.
As with many other things, the Kiwis and Aussies fight over the true origin of the Pavlova. In 1935, a Perth-based Australian hotel chef claims to have invented this desert. That is six years later than the Wellington chef invented it. So that circumstance, plus the fact that I live in New Zealand (even in Wellington) make me believe that it is a traditional Kiwi desert.
Since it is such a typical Kiwi-desert, I used to say that once I am a permanent resident in this country, I will make my first own Pavlova. I do have my permanent residence now and my wonderful partner surprised me with a Kiwifruit-Pavlova when we celebrated that we managed that bureaucratic milestone. What a miracle, as he has never ever made a cake before! And it was so yummy and yet another good reason to move to the end of the world 😉
I made my first Pavlova when my parents visited this year in July. The Edmond’s Cookbook is a New Zealand recipe book with sweet and savory Kiwi-favorites and I used that one as the basis for my delicious desert. Here we go!
– 6 egg whites
– pinch of salt
– 250g caster sugar (my note: icing sugar will work as well)
– 1 tbsp. white vinegar
– 1 tsp. vanilla
– 2 tsp. cornflour
- Start by preheating the oven to 120°C. Make sure it is not too hot, otherwise the egg white will still be too raw in the middle and the crust burns too quickly.
- Whisk 6 egg whites and a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.
- Continue whisking and add around 250g caster sugar. Make sure you don’t add everything at once, add it step by step and try in between to make sure it is not too sweet for your taste. Also, if you add it gradually, avoid having sugar chunks in your egg white. Mix until the egg white looks shiny and no evidence of sugar is visible.
- Now, carefully add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla pure (I personally believe that real vanilla bean paste is the best although it takes more time to get the vanilla out of the bean, but you can obviously also use vanilla extract or whatever you usually use for baking) and 2 teaspoons of cornflour.
- Now it is time to get the oven tray, put baking paper on it and use a spoon to put a cake-shape of your fresh meringue on it. You can make a shape of a large cake, or have a number of individual little muffin-size meringues, up to you. In my case, I made two thing cake-sized meringues.
- That needs to be baked slowly for 1 to 1.5 hours. Check every now and then, the Pavlova will be done when the top is hard when you touch it and even a bit golden-brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the door slightly open and let the Pavlova cool in the oven completely. At the end, you want a crunchy shell and soft interior.
Now comes the creative part: Decorating! Make sure you do that just before serving, otherwise the meringue will be soft and soggy.
I took one meringue and topped it with cold vanilla custard that I prepared beforehand. On top of the custard, I put a mix of berries and then the other meringue. This meringue-staple was covered completely in cream. (To prepare the cream I used around 250g fresh cream, whisked it and gradually added caster sugar to taste. Make sure that isn’t too sweet as the meringue is sweet already. But I still think the cream needs a little sugar as I hate plain cream….). I used the leftover berries to make a berry sauce (just mix the berries in a blender, no need to add anything else) and poured that on top over the cream!
The Pavlova looked super beautiful and we finished it the same night, although we already had a massive dinner and entree. But who can resist some really good desert – even Manuel, my partner, who in most cases prefers savory instead of sweet, couldn’t resist and went for a second piece.
Alternatively, you can cover in cream, garnish with kiwifruit, strawberries, mango, pineapple, whatever fruit you have available and like. Also, you can sprinkle with coconut chips or chocolate chips. If you top it with an apple sauce, I recommend you add a tablespoon of cinnamon to your meringue mix before you bake it.
Happy baking !
My sister in law in Finland makes something similar. Your cake looks fantastic and I love the way your give the history behind the cake…. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks a lot, I enjoyed writing it 🙂 Do you know what’s different in the finnish recipe?
I loved that post, Lene! When I was still in Chemnitz we had a Kiwi in the English Department, teaching about NZ history, culture and the like. And I missed the food session back then. I’ll definitely give your recipe a try! Thank you.
Good luck liebe Caro 🙂