Amanda issued a Pavlova Bake-off challenge and I said “Game ON!”
Although I’d heard of Australia’s most famous dessert I’d not eaten or made it before. The pictures and origins made it a bit too fancy for me. But Amanda said it’s a family favorite for both Aussies and Kiwis alike. Since Christmas is in summer down-under, it’s also a traditional holiday treat … an antithetical version to our leaden Christmas fruit cake.
Pavlovas are meringue based desserts topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. It’s meringue based but not meringue. What’s the difference? Meringues are crisp all the way through while pavlovas are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
I had a good time researching recipes. One of the best is this piece in Sally’s Baking Addiction which explains the purpose of each ingredient.
- Egg white– is the basis of any meringue and works by whipping or foaming the proteins in eggs.
- Sugar – sweetens and stabilizes the whipped egg whites. Left to its own devices egg whites will deflate before cooking. Sugar prevents that. Sugar also caramelizes when heated, adding color and texture to baked goods.
- Acid – like sugar, acid adds stabilization. Some recipes call for lemon juice or vinegar, others for cream of tartar which is a powdered form of tartaric acid.
- Cornstarch – is a sometimes ingredient in pavlova recipes. I’ve seen it in some and not in others. According to Sally, it’s the source of the marshmallowy center.
For my bake I used Sally’s recipe, primarily because it used less sugar than the Woman’s Weekly version in Amanda’s post. Sorry Amanda but this will be my answer when I get heck on my blood sugar levels. “… but Doctor it could’ve been worse.”
For the same reason I also passed on Amanda’s suggestion for a chocolate bombe shell. Which meant that I had to fancy up my presentation. In my gear kit from cooking school, I have a piping bag and four tips. I’d purchased them because I had to and after the mandatory class on Italian meringues, I’d put them away. Here was a perfect opportunity to use them again.
For the filling I opted for pastry cream lightened with yogurt and whipped cream. Assembling the cake was a snap and after the required photo shoot, it was “Dessert time!”
I can see why this is a favorite. Light, sweet, crunchy, creamy and fruity. The cake looks spectacular, it tastes light as air and disappears just as quickly. Yummy.
Toronto, Canada. January 2021