Well the first time this Indian tried it, I’d used a mere 250 W beater and the pavlova had not risen much.
Since then I’ve learnt that for a perfect pavlova, you need to really beat the egg whites and it helps if you have a heavy duty stand-mixer. But don’t be deterred if you don’t have one, a hand mixer works fine, it just takes longer. While my first pavlova had not risen much, it had still tasted fine and had been eaten (and enjoyed) by the family.
We had some friends over for dinner on the 10th and that’s when I made my second Pavlova. I am far from perfecting my pav -- the look needs lots of work -- but I enjoyed this attempt.
The recipe and technique below are taken from three different sources. The ingredients are from Joy of Baking and the tips and tricks are from Better Homes & Gardens (Jan 2011 issue, Pg 100) and Nanna’s Sweet Treats (by Jane Lawson, Murdoch Books, ISBN 978-1741964097)
1. Whip the egg whites 2. Cut out baking paper and place on baking sheet 3. Whip egg whites till stiff peaks form 4. Spoon meringue on to paper 5. BHG cover version with raspberries 6. BHG version with bananas and passion fruit pulp 7. My visually-challenged but tasty pavlova!
Olive oil, cooking spray for greasing4 egg whites
1 cup castor or superfine sugar (I take granulated sugar and powder it in my coffee grinder)
½ tsp vanilla extract (OR 2 tsp coconut essence for a different taste)
1 tsp white vinegar, or lemon juice
2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
1 cup whipping cream, normal cream does as well
1 ½ TBS sugar (or to taste)½ tsp vanilla extract
Seasonal fruit topping: I used seasonal raspberries ($8.99 per punnet!) and kiwi fruit (6 for $2, yay)
- Preheat oven for 200 C. Cut out a 18-23 cm wide circle of baking/butter paper. Spray a baking sheet (or big flat metal plate) and place the paper on it.
- In a clean glass or steel bowl – should be fat free – beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks.
- Add sugar, a tablespoon at a time and continue beating on high speed till stiff, shiny peaks form.
- Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the vinegar/lemon juice and cornflour beat in.
- Quickly spread the meringue inside the circle drawn – ensure the edges of the meringue are higher than the center; you want to make a depression in the centre to top with cream and fruit later.
- Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the outside is dry and is a very pale cream color. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN WHILE BAKING.
- Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar to let the meringue cool completely – I stick a wooden spoon in the door to hold it open. (It's okay if some cracks appear as the meringue cools).
- To serve, top with whipped cream and seasonal fruit or try one of the toppings given above.
TOPPINGSIndian summer topping (Jane Lawson): Flesh of two ripe, fresh mangoes, 300 ml cream, choice of ripe fruit – since it’s summer in India, go with the mangoes!
Finely dice the mango flesh. Whip cream to form firm peaks. Gently fold mango through cream until well combined but be careful not to flatten beaten cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Whisk again just before serving to thicken, if necessary. Spoon mango cream into the pav hollow and spread over the top of the pav with the back of a spoon. Arrange selection of ripe fruit on top and serve.
BHG topping: Chop 1 cup frozen raspberries and put in a heavy bottomed pan. Add ½ cup raspberry jam, ½ cup water and ¼ cup castor sugar. Stir over low heat till well combined. Simmer for three-four minutes, pour into bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold. Top pavlova with fresh mixed berries, spoon raspberry sauce and dust the top with icing sugar.
Courtesy BHG, Joy of Baking and Jane Lawson
- Eggs at room temperature give greater volume meringue, while eggs straight from the fridge give a more stable meringue: Both produce a good pav.
- Always use a clean glass or stainless steel bowl, free from any fat. Don’t use plastic as its porous and will retain fat and odours. When I was learning how to bake with my mother, we used a huge pateela!
- Always use castor sugar as it dissolves readily. Granulated sugar will result in syrup leaking from the pav when cooked: this is what happened when I tried a pav for the first time.
- To test if the sugar is fully dissolved, rub a little meringue between your thumb and index finger: If meringue feels gritty, the sugar hasn’t fully dissolved. Continue beating till the meringue feels smooth between your fingers.
- Separate eggs one by one, I a separate bowl and ensure theres no egg yol present/ any trace of egg yolk, which is a fat, will stop the whites from bating to a foam.
- Spoon pav mix onto baking tray, then shape and bake immediately: do not let it stand.
- Cooked pav should ideally be eaten on day of baking; it does not last long after you top it with fruit. Cooled meringue can be stored in a cool dry place, in an air tight container for a few days.
- Use the flat side of a spatula to make furrows around the outside edge of the meringue to make edges stand up as straight as possible, higher than the centre – this forms a natural hollow for the filling. This also helps to prevent the edges from cracking.