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Published December 31st 2010
For a unique birthday cake, to celebrate Australia day, prepare a summer dessert, a Christmas dish or to welcome an overseas visitor Pavlova is the quintessential Australian dessert.
The Pavlova is believed to have been coined after a visiting Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926.
It was recently reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that the tutu was named after the dancer: "because the consistency was as light as air like the dancer and the meringue itself also resembled a tutu."
New Zealand claim the dish is their own. However one of Australia's most loved chefs Margaret Fulton disagrees and believes that Pavlova calls Australia home.
According to the online article by Daniella Miletic: "Many Australians believe the modern pavlova was created by Herbert Sachse, a chef at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth in 1935. He used whipped cream and passionfruit.
Fulton, who was taught to make pavlova by her mother, adds: ''The New Zealanders often cook it in a kind of a round tin and then release it but it's the shape of the pavlova … regardless of the recipe … the way the Australians do it that make it look like a tutu.''
If cherries are your preferred fruit try Margaret Fulton's Cherry Pavlova
You can prepare a sumptuous dessert for 12-14 people that takes less than two hours to make. The preparation time is 15 minutes and the cooking time 1.5 hours.
Ingredients 8 egg whites, room temperature
2 cups (440g) caster sugar
1½ tsp vinegar
1½ tsp vanilla essence
450ml thickened cream, whipped
1 kg fresh cherries (stones removed)
If cherries are unavailable, use peaches, mangoes, nectarines, mixed berries or bananas.
250g fresh cherries (stones removed)
⅓ cup of sugar
¼ cup of cold water
The method (according to the website):
1. Preheat oven to 190°C (normal not fan oven), line baking tray with baking paper and mark 24cm circle.
2. Use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until firm (A pinch of salt will help). Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly, until thick and glossy. Fold in vinegar and vanilla essence. Spoon large dollops of meringue inside circle on baking tray. Smooth into shape of pavlova with spatula. Mark decorative grooves around side and indent top to accommodate filling.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 150°C. Bake pavlova for 1½ hours. If pavlova browns too quickly, reduce heat. (Avoid opening door and losing heat as it will cause the oven element to turn on and risks browning the pavlova). Turn off oven and leave pavlova to cool in oven with door slighty ajar.
4. For the cherry syrup cook cherries with sugar and water on a medium heat for 5 minutes until cherries are soft. Puree in a blender, rub through a sieve. Return to a saucepan and cook on a high heat for another 5 minutes, until thick and syrupy.
5. Place pavlova on serving plate and cover with whipped cream.
6. Decorate with whole cherries and cherry syrup OR your favourite fruit in season drizzled with passionfruit pulp.
Margaret Fullton shares her cooking tips to create a pavlova masterpiece:
Caster sugar should always be used for making pavlova. Coarser granulated white sugar will not dissolve completely in the beating and usually leaves a gritty texture.
A too hot oven can cause syrup beads and a yellow crust.
If the weather is humid, bake Pavlovas as close to serving as possible.
It is best to check your oven with a portable thermometer.
The outside of the pavlova should be dry and crunchy, even a little cracked without browning, while the inside stays soft.
Avoid handling the pavlova once it is cooked.
Keep the pavlova in an airtight container or dry place away from draughts and moisture.
For a more traditional Pavlova try this recipe with passionfruit, starfruit, bananas and kiwifruit.
This smaller version serves up to six people. For tips on how to make the perfect pavlova click here.
6 (59g) eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups (270g) caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
300ml thickened cream
2 tbs icing sugar mixture, sifted
Finely shredded rind and juice of 2 limes
2 Lady finger bananas, thinly sliced diagonally
3 golden kiwifruit, peeled, thinly sliced
2 starfruit, thinly sliced
Pulp of 2-3 passionfruit
Method (according to the website):
Preheat oven to 120°C. Line an oven tray with foil. Brush with melted butter and dust with cornflour, shaking off excess. Mark a 24cm-diameter circle on foil.
Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar dissolved. Rub a little meringue between fingers. If still "gritty" with sugar, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until just combined. Spoon meringue onto the foil, using the marked circle as a guide. Smooth sides and top of pavlova. Use a small spatula to forms little peaks around edge of pavlova. Bake in oven for 11/2 hours or until pavlova is dry to the touch. Turn off oven. Leave pavlova in oven with the door ajar to cool completely. When completely cold, transfer to serving plate or store in an airtight container until required.
Use an electric mixer to whisk the cream and icing sugar in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spoon cream onto the top of pavlova. Pour lime juice into a ceramic or glass bowl. Add banana slices and toss to coat with juice. Drain. Decorate pavlova with banana, kiwifruit, starfruit, passionfruit and lime rind.
For a Masterchef recipe from Donna Hay follow the instructions below:
150ml egg white (approximately 4 eggs)
1 cup (220g) caster (superfine) sugar
2 tablespoons corn flour (corn starch), sifted
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
2. Place the eggwhite in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, whisking well, until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk until just combined. Shape the mixture into an 18cm round on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
3. Reduce oven to 120°C (250°F) and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.
4. Decorate with your desired topping
To simplify you can also buy a meringue Pavlova case if your pressed for time just make sure you buy fresh ripe fruit for the topping.