Friday, 9 May 2008


“Cookery has become a noble art, a noble science; cooks are gentlemen.” - Robert Burton

The pavlova is a very popular dessert in both Australia and New Zealand. It is named after Anna Pavlova, the famous Russian ballerina who toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926 and Australia again in 1929. In 1934, the chef of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia, Herbert Sachse, created the pavlova. The dish is sweet, light, foamy white and delicious. A truly poetic interpretation of a great dancer’s angelic stage presence in sugar and egg-white.

There is some controversy over which country it originates from - both Australia and New Zealand claim the Pavlova as their national dish. The Meringue Cake was common in NZ in the early 1930s. In 1973, Sachse stated in a magazine interview that he sought to improve the Meringue Cake recipe that he found in the Women’s Mirror Magazine on April 2, 1935. That recipe was contributed by a New Zealander.

5 egg whites
pinch salt
250 g caster sugar/sugar (equal parts)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 level teaspoons cornflour
(Please note the following equivalents:
Caster sugar or fine/super fine sugar; corn flour or cornstarch)
Whipped cream
Fruit to decorate: Sliced kiwifruit, peaches, strawberries, blueberries and passionfruit pulp.

Preheat oven to 200˚C. Lightly grease oven tray, line with baking paper or use non-stick cooking spray. Beat the whites of eggs with a pinch of salt until stiff (until peaks form). Continue beating, gradually adding sugar, vinegar and vanilla, until of thick consistency. Lightly fold in cornflour.
 Pile mixture into circular shape, making hollow in centre for filling. (Mixture will swell during cooking).
Electric oven: Turn oven to 130˚C and bake undisturbed for 1.5 hours.
Gas oven: Bake at 200˚C for ten minutes, then turn oven to 130˚C and bake a further hour. Fan forced oven: temperature and time needs to be adjusted accordingly.
Turn oven off, leave pavlova in oven until cool.
Top with whipped cream and decorate with fruit.

When seeing the dessert, it is easy to understand why some people say it was inspired by one of Pavlova’s famous tutus, draped in green silk cabbage roses. The basic shape was provided by a meringue case, while the froth of the net was suggested by whipped cream with slices of kiwifruit for the green roses. I must say that while in Perth I enjoyed a delicious slice of pavlova, home made too! Thank you, Rosanne!

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