Apologies for the single blurry photo in this post. I made a pavlova for an Australia day potluck we attended on Saturday night, and were in a bit of a hurry to get there, so the pictures suffered a little. But take my word for it: if you’ve never had pavlova before, this is how it is supposed to be (unlike my first attempt, which was good, but sort of deflated). It’s essentially a meringue cake, shaped like a nest and baked slowly and carefully, so the outer crust is crunchy and the interior is gooey and almost marshmallowy in flavor. This one had a hint of meyer lemon, because I couldn’t resist, and got piled high with unsweetened whipped cream, kiwi and strawberry slices, and passionfruit syrup. It’s so good that I ate some for breakfast and dinner, even after having about 4 slices last night. What’s that you say? Yes, I am a glutton.
There were two pavlovas, you see, both delicious and inviting, as well as chocolate and coconut coated, jam-filled sponge cake squares known as lamingtons, which you absolutely must try if you are ever in Australia. Not to mention a proper roast with gravy and potatoes, and cabbage cooked until it tasted almost like roasted brussels sprouts. The other pavlova was topped with peaches and a raspberry puree, which I can definitely recommend as an alternative, but any summery fruit will do. This is a summer dessert, so if you make it now, make sure you live somewhere warm. Or want to imagine you’re living somewhere warm — sometimes that’s just as good.
This recipe is from Maggie Harvest, which is a beautiful, somewhat indulgent cookbook, full of all sorts of funny and delicious things. If you want to know how to cook kangaroo tail, for example, this is the book for you.
Recipe after the jump.
Difficulty: If your oven regulates its temperature properly, it’s simple. If not, I wish you luck.
Cost: Cheap! It’s basically egg whites and sugar. If you find cheap toppings, then you can probably serve 8 people for $3-4 total.
Time: ~15 minutes active time, if that, but you need 1 hr 40 minutes to bake it and then overnight to let it cool properly.
Playing with the baking time / cooling time will change your ratio of crust to marshmallowy center. Once I know the exact formula, I will let you know. Until then, experiment!
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature. I never plan ahead, so I just separated the eggs and put the bowl of egg whites in a larger bowl half-filled with warm water. It seemed to work.*
- 190 g. granulated sugar. This is a generous 3/4 cup.
- 1 t. cornstarch
- 1 t. meyer lemon juice (or any lemon juice, actually).
Preheat the oven to 265ºF / 130ºC. Line a springform pan or baking dish with parchment paper (get creative with this) — you want to keep the meringue from sticking.
Beat the egg whites until they form really stiff peaks (which you will see when you lift your mixer out of the bowl — you’ll see little triangular mountains, that shouldn’t collapse right away). This part is key, because if you don’t beat them enough, you will end up with a flat, gooey mess. You want the pavlova to keep its shape, so if in doubt, mix some more. Once you’re satisfied, add the sugar slowly, while you’re still mixing. The eggs will take on a slightly glossy appearance. Next, add the cornstarch, and finally the lemon. Stir everything together until you get a smooth, uniform mix.
Next, take a large spoon and spoon the egg white mixture into the center of the lined baking pan. Form a well in the center. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Turn the oven off, and leave the pavlova in there to cool overnight. This helps your pavlova develop that crunchy crust.
Top with cream and fruit (whatever kind you like) immediately before serving. The higher you pile it on, the more spectacular this dessert looks.
*You can apparently freeze the yolks for later use. I’m trying it — if it’s a disaster, well, I’m sure I’ll write about it.