By Helen Lacey
For anyone who’s ever visited Australia or has a little knowledge about this wonderful country, you might think we’re all about kangaroos, golden beaches, whale watching and dangerous insects. And yes, we certainly do have all of those things. But we also have something else, my favourite dessert, that is deliciously decandent . . . the Pavlova.
Or do we?
There has always been a friendly (and not so friendly sometimes) rivalry between Aussie’s and our cousins across the ditch in New Zealand, particularly in the sporting arena. And as it turns out, in the kitchen.
Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. It has a crisp crust and is soft and light inside. 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 real source of the Pavlova has caused argument between the two nations for many years, but alas (as she weeps) research indicates that indeed New Zealand is the source of this wonderful dessert. It is a popular dish in both countries and is relatively easy to make. In my house, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a Pavlova.
Here’s my version -
castor sugar or fine/super fine sugar corn flour or cornstarch)
Preheat oven to 400F(200C).
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 250F (130C) and bake undisturbed for 1 1/2 hours.
Gas oven: bake at 400F (200C) for ten minutes, then turn oven to 250F (130C) 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 as desired.
Eat and enjoy!
If you have a favourite dessert recipe, I’d love to hear about it!