The pavlova is named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova and is regarded in New Zealand as the ultimate special occasion dessert. June’s pavlovas were her pride and joy. This will make a pav for 10 people. Pavlovas can be tricky and variations in individual ovens seem to be the biggest factor affecting the result. You may need to experiment to get the ideal temperature for your oven.
- 4 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 8 tablespoons castor sugar
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 3 heaped teaspoons cornflour
To make a successful pavlova you need an electric beater. Always have the eggs at room temperature. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Place the whites in the clean bowl (any grease on the bowl will spoil the result) of an electric beater. It is important not to get any of the yolk (even a speck) in with the whites. Add the salt to the egg whites and beat on medium speed until peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time and continue beating on high speed for about 10 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the meringue is thick and glossy. Any undissolved sugar will cause the pavlova to weep and collapse. Lastly whisk in the vinegar and cornflour and beat for a further minute.
Use a spoon and place dollops of the mixture on to a piece of dampened greaseproof paper on top of an oven tray. Shape the pavlova and then using sweeping movements bring up the knife towards the centre creating furrows. This will help prevent the sides from collapsing. Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C and as soon as the pavlova goes into the oven reduce the temperature to 240 F/125 C and cook for an hour (if you are using a fan-forced oven then you will need to lower the temperature by up to 10 degrees centigrade and/or adjust the time). Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova to cool in the oven. This can be left overnight. The pavlova will reduce in height during the cooling stage but if it’s successful it won’t collapse. Tip the pavlova upside down on to a serving plate. Peel the greaseproof paper away and put whipped cream on top and decorate with lots of colourful fruit such as a mix of strawberries and blueberries so you get the nice contrast in colours. For an authentic NZ look kiwifruit is also popular!