The pavlova is a quintessential Aussie dessert that is said to have been inspired by the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova after a chef saw her perform on her world tour in 1926. A good pavlova has a beautiful, high, crisp crust and soft, pillowy marshmallow inside. It is probably my favourite summer dessert, especially when topped with seasonal fruit (I love mango, strawberry and passionfruit on mine), toasted coconut and sometimes, if I’m feeling very naughty, toffeed macadamias. I also love mixed berries on mine, their tartness works so well with the sweet pillowy pav.
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
1 large cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour
2 egg whites (at room temperature)
4 tablespoons boiling water
1 large mango
1 punnet of fresh strawberries
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a large tray with baking paper and trace a circle around the bottom of an 18cm cake tin (or other round object of the desired size). Turn the baking paper over (so it is pencil side down).
Add eggs whites to a large bowl. Put cornflour and caster sugar to one side of the bowl. Add boiling water to egg whites, pour in vanilla and white vinegar, and beat on high for 10-20 minutes until thick, glossy and the sugar has dissolved (you can test this by putting a small amount of mixture on your index finger and rubbing it with your thumb, if you can feel the sugar, keep beating). **It is hugely important that you have the sugar dissolved, otherwise the pavlova may crack and weep during cooking**
Using the circle on the baking paper as your guide, spoon the pavlova mixture onto the tray and shape.
Cook at 180°C for about 8 minutes and then reduce heat to 90°C and cook for another 45 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova to cool in the oven for at least an hour, to prevent collapsing.
When fully cool and you’re ready to serve it (keep the meringue free of toppings until right before serving), top with thickened cream and fruit.
Recipe from my lovely Grandmother, Margaret Payne.