In recent days our oven has played host to a succession of failed pavlovas. Dry, cracked pavs, tinged creamy brown. Not the perfect, uncracked, pearly white pav I so longed for.
Clearly I am not on a detox at the moment. Or even a diet week. Last week I discovered Leslie Kenton’s eBook, Healthy and Lean for life, and a protein-based diet. Which means I can eat eggs and dairy. And berries. But not sugar. So this pavlova really isn’t on any diet menu. But I needed to know how to make one. And it’s weeks like this that begin to explain why I’m on diet weeks at other times.
I asked my pavolas – what am I doing wrong? They said, ask the Internet. And Bron answered the call.
Her post Pavolva – or how to lose friends and influence people told me it had all the answers. After all, it was Bron, and what North Canterbury girl worth her salt wouldn’t have a good pav recipe?
Bron has chronicled the story of the Pavlova recipe from its first publication in the Rangiora Mother’s Union Cookery Book in 1933. Isn’t it wonderful how women used to put together community cookbooks. I wonder if they still do that anywhere?
When Bron introduced her Kiwi Pavlova recipe as her Auntie Yvonne’s it was clear I has found the *right* recipe. I moved my cookbook aside to make way for my phone screen and I followed Bron’s recipe, making a note of the similarities to the recipe I’d been using – and where those critical differences lay.
Bron’s recipe calls for a pinch of salt to go in before the sugar, but only after the egg whites have become foamy. Adding caster sugar slowly and beating until the eggs are stiff and glossy was familiar. Good. I remember my mum telling me that about meringues.
And finally mix in the vinegar and cornflour until just combined. Also good. Also familiar. Then, the oven temperature. There it was. There was the huge difference. Bron’s recipe said the oven needed to be pre-heated to 190°, and then down to 80° for cooking – and then, to leave the pavlova in the oven overnight. Not just to cool. But to cool overnight.
Knowing my oven can roast a 2kg chicken in half an hour I elected to only heat the oven to 120° as per my cookbook recipe. But instead of the called-for 100°, I used Bron’s 80° for cooking, and I cooked it for 70 minutes, instead of my cookbook’s 60. The other difference in my recipe was that instead of using four regular eggs I just so happened to have four double yolkers from Daylesford that day, and I used those. Hazarding a guess, that might be the equivalent of six regular eggs.
The result was, yes, the perfect Kiwi Pavlova. With an unexpected surprise – sticky sugar sauce that oozed out the bottom as the pavlova cooled – perfect for drizzling.
Kiwi Pavlova with Cotswolds blackcurrants
Based on Bron Marshall’s recipe with slight adjustment to oven temperature for my super hot Rangemaster.
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 cup of castor sugar
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 300 ml cream, softly whipped
- 1/2 cup strawberries blended into puree
- Blackcurrants (or berry of choice)
- Preheat the oven to 120°C
- Beat the egg whites to a foam, add the salt and beat until soft peaks form (which fold over when beater is removed).
- Gradually beat in the caster sugar a little at a time.
- Beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy and the peaks stand strong when beater is removed.
- Sift the cornflour over the mixture (I use a tea strainer).
- Add the vinegar.
- Fold in, or mix until just combined.
- Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
- Spread the meringue into a 17cm circle.
- Smooth the top and sides to form a nice, even, smooth circle (don’t overwork it!).
- Lower the heat and bake in a cool 80°C oven for 60 to 90 minutes depending on how fast your oven is and whether you used giant eggs.
- Turn off the heat and leave in the oven overnight to cool completely.
- Just before serving top your pavlova with softly whipped cream. The top of mine always drops down a bit at this stage – just be gentle and pray it does it evenly.
- Gently pour over the blended strawberries in stripes to barely cover the cream.
- Decorate with blackcurrants (or your chosen berries).
Serves 4 – 8