Saturday, 20 January 2018


Then dance must be its sweet dessert... 

“The silver swan, who, living had no note, When death approached unlocked her silent throat.” - Orlando Gibbons 

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (February 12 1881 – January 23, 1931). It is a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside, usually topped with fruit and whipped cream. The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years.

In 2008, Helen Leach published “The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History”, in which she argued that the earliest known recipe was published in New Zealand. Later research by Andrew Wood and Annabelle Utrecht suggested the dessert originated in the United States and was based on an earlier German dish. The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both Australia and New Zealand, and with its simple recipe, is frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals.

It is a dessert most identified with the summer time and popularly eaten during that period including at Christmas time, however it is also eaten all year round in many Australian and New Zealand homes.

Here is a recipe for Pavlova: 


Whites of 6 medium, very fresh eggs, separated
300 g caster Sugar
2 generous teaspoons cornflour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
300ml thickened cream
2 tablespoons CSR Pure Icing Sugar, sifted
Pulp of 3 passionfruit (if fresh not available use canned pulp 170g)
1 teaspoon gelatin powder
2 tablespoons boiling water
Other seasonal fruits (strawberries, kiwi fruit, raspberries, blackberries) or glace fruit or preserved fruit (peaches) if fresh fruit is unavailable. Passionfruit is a must!

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.
Boil the water in a cup in a microwave and dissolve the gelatin in it, adding the passionfruit pulp. Let this cool until it is just beginning to set.
Meanwhile, 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 the passionfruit jelly mixture on top and decorate pavlova with fruit.

And here is Anna Pavlova dancing the Dying Swan to music by Camille Saint Saëns. 

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