For this week’s Blackboard Special, Andrew Sedmihradsky, the global mobility coordinator at UTM’s International Education Centre, has shared his wife’s recipe for a classic Australian dessert: the pavlova.
If you remember last week’s issue, you’ll recall that Sedmihradsky was the father who biked 600 km across the Trans-Canada Trail to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, along with his son Max, who has the disease. Max has a sweet tooth: he’s an avid fan of ice cream and enjoys pavlova greatly.
So what exactly is a pavlova? (Don’t lie—I know you’ve been scratching your head for the last few minutes.) A pavlova is a sweet dessert; its base consists of a meringue crust and is usually topped with whipped cream and various fruits, such as berries and kiwis. Within the baked shell lies a soft inside of egg whites and cream, and according to the recipes that I looked over, it’s as soft as a marshmallow.
Sedmihradsky says that the dessert is believed to have been created in honour of Anna Pavlova (1881–1931)—a Russian ballerina who came to Australia on tour in the 1920s. She is famed for her short ballet, The Dying Swan.
It seems that both Australia and New Zealand claim to be the inventors behind this dessert. Several sources indicate that the New Zealanders created the recipe, but the Australians renamed it the pavlova. The victor was decided by the discovery of a pavlova recipe in a 1927 New Zealander publication (Davis Dainty Dishes)—which, incidentally, is over 10 years before an equivalent recipe could be found in Australia. Thus, New Zealand has been awarded the honour of being recognized as the inventor of the pavlova.
And now, enough about the history—let’s take a look at the recipe.
- 4 egg whites at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 250 g castor sugar
- 2 tsp corn flour
- 1 tsp white-wine vinegar
- few drops of pure vanilla
- 1¼ cups cream, firmly whipped
- pulp of 10 passionfruits, or a mix of other fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, kiwi fruits, and bananas
- Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and draw a 20 cm circle on the paper.
- Beat egg whites and salt until satiny peaks form. Beat in sugar, a third at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
- Sprinkle corn flour, vinegar, and vanilla over the mixture and fold in lightly. Mound onto the paper-lined baking tray within the 20 cm circle, flattening the top and smoothing out the sides.
- Place in oven. Immediately reduce heat to 150 C and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce further to 120 C and cook for 45 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and leave the dish to cool completely. Invert onto a platter, pile on cream, and decorate with passionfruit pulp or other fruit.
- Serve immediately.