The humble and iconic Pavlova: a staple dessert during the summer festive period in New Zealand and Australia. The ‘Pav’ is traditionally topped with whipped cream and slices of kiwifruit and strawberries – although pretty much any soft fruits will work well: raspberries, mango, passion fruit pulp, peaches and nectarines are all viable options. However, please don’t feel restricted to the cream and fruit topping. This dessert has appeared on the table au naturel with no topping and it was voraciously and enjoyably devoured. During the Autumnal months it has been served with gently poached pears and toasted walnuts – it was both delicious and in keeping with the season.
An electric stand mixer really makes light work of a Pavlova and I would recommend using it if you have one in your arsenal. Alternatively, an electric hand mixer can be used.
The bowl in which the egg whites will be whisked needs to be super clean. Any egg yolk, oil/fat, or detergent residue will become immediate enemies with the egg whites and their ability to foam properly and create the structure needed for a fabulous Pavlova.
The bowl will also need to accommodate an eight-fold expansion in the egg whites’ volume – once they get going, they will get big!
The whisking process will take about 10 minutes. I whisk mine on a moderate speed – my stand mixer ranges in speed from 1 through to 6 setting, I use the ‘3’ setting for making Pavlova. Keep an eye on the heat of your mixer’s motor – if it starts to get too warm then stop and let it cool down. Pavlova is not worth a broken mixer 🙂
There are three stages to whisked egg whites, when making Pavlova the second stage is the desired consistency at which the sugar is added:
- Soft Peaks: the whites will be glossy and the foam will have edges that retain some shape but droop. They will still cling to the sides of the bowl.
- Stiff peaks: the whites will be glossy and retain well-defined edges. In this stage the whites will cling to the bowl.
- Dry Peaks: the whites will have a dull, dry appearance with a crumbly consistency and will leak some liquid.
The final Pavlova mixture should be thick, glossy, and marshmallow like in consistency.
When forming the Pavlova on the parchment sheet, I plop about ¼ of the mixture in small spatula loads onto the sheet and smooth these round the 18cm diameter that I drew on the underside of the parchment paper. I then use this as a base to build up the Pavlova with the remaining mixture.
Once baked the Pavlova will be dry and crisp – but not sticky – to the touch. Once it is backed, turn the oven off and let it cool in the oven.
The dietary information is just for the Pavlova – add cream and the calories will increase!
Serves 6 – 8
4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Electric Stand Mixer or an electric hand mixer
- Prepare the parchment paper for the baking tray. Trace an 18cm diameter circle on one side of the parchment paper – I use a glass bowl. Turn the paper over and place it on the baking sheet – make sure you can see the outline of the circle from the underside. Dust the parchment paper with cornflour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 140*C.
- Using the electric stand mixer’s balloon whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with a moderate speed until it reaches the soft peaks stage.
- While you continue to whisk the egg whites, add about one third of the sugar and continue to whisk for 2 minutes to incorporate it into the mixture.
- Continue to whisk the mixture and add the remaining sugar one tablespoonful at a time. Whisk the mixture for one minute between each addition of sugar.
- By the time all the sugar has been whisked in, the mixture should be forming stiff, glossy peaks. If this isn’t the case then continue to whisk until these form.
- If necessary, stop the whisk and using a spatula fold any mixture that is on the walls of the bowl back into the mixture.
- Turn the whisk back on to a moderate speed and add the vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar. Whisk these in for 1 minute.
- Using a spatula, plop the Pavlova mixture onto the parchment paper, staying within the 18cm circle. Smooth the sides and top of the Pavlova.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 130*C and bake the Pavlova for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Once cooked, turn the oven off and leave the Pavlova to cool in the oven.
- Once cooled, serve with the decoration of choice – traditionally in New Zealand whipped cream is piled on top of the Pavlova and this is decorated with slices of strawberries and kiwifruit.
Nerd Notification: Etymology
Anna Pavlovna Pavlova (‘Anna Pavlova’) is the eponymous heroine of this dish. She was a Russian prima ballerina (born 12 February 1881 and died 23 January 1931) and the dish is believed to have been created in her honour either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.