It has been far too long since I took up a bit of a retro cooking challenge and on my Saturday morning walk with Baby Good I decided it was time to tackle one of those intimidating desserts on my list. My last attempt at one of these was the sponge cake – not exactly my finest hour in the kitchen and perhaps this has scared me off trying another. But my lovely mother-in-law was coming for a BBQ dinner so I decided what more Aussie way to complement the barbie than a pavlova.
I used the one and only recipe my Mum has had success with which originally came from a Woman’s Weekly from the 1970s. I quick detour to the greengrocer for some appropriate fruit for topping and the continental supermarket for cream and eggs (as well as the best pastrami around – not for the pav!) and I was ready to start. Sadly Baby Good was not in the mood to either play happily on her own or sleep so I had something of a delayed start.
I did eventually scrape a few minutes to get the egg whites whisked, the sugar added and then the cornflour and lemon juice. Following the instructions I drew a circle on the bake paper and then spooned the mixture into the circle, spreading it out to fit and attempted the build up the sides a little – not quite enough as it turned out.
Into a slow oven (though my dodgy thermostat struck again on this front) it went for an hour. As I watched it cook I noticed it browning a little more than I would have liked. I ended up turning the oven down further about half way through. The next step was to leave it to cool slowly in the oven – even overnight the recipe suggested. This is where my delayed start came back to bit me, I only had a fairly short time to leave it to cool before I had to top it with the whipped cream and fruit.
I finished it off just as Mr Good’s Mum arrived and even though it was darker than I wanted I thought it looked pretty great. However, as I was getting drinks for everyone a little while later I glanced over at the pav and noticed it didn’t quite look right. It seems that the topping was a little heavy, the pav not quite cool and hard enough and it was cracking and splitting apart – oh God how am I going to serve this, I thought. I tried pushing it back together, but it was no use, the centre had sunk irreparably. I opted to have a glass of wine and not think about the dessert.
This proved a wise move as it didn’t actually get any worse and once cut up and served on plates you couldn’t really tell what had happened. And it tasted fantastic, all crunchy on the outside and marshmallowy in the middle. Combine that with the whipped cream and fruit and it made the perfect end to a lovely alfesco barbecue on a warm late spring evening. I had even cleared off the outdoor table I had been using as my potting bench (Mr Good has promised to build me a new one – I’ll keep you updated on this little project), so we didn’t have to crowd around Miss Two’s little table for a change.
I’m sure every family has their own tried and true recipe for a pav, but here’s the one I used if you’re interested.
3 eggwhites ¼ cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt 1 tablespoon cornflour
¾ cup castor sugar 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Beat egg whites and salt until stiff and dry (about 10 minutes)
Add castor sugar, gradually, beating between each addition. Make sure sugar is completely dissolved.
Mix together granulated sugar and cornflour, lightly fold into meringue with the lemon juice.
Using a pavlova tray or oven tray covered with baking paper.
Spray with non-stick spray and dust with cornflour, shake off excess.
Make a circle a little larger than a bread and butter plate.
Spoon mixture into the desired circle, build up edge to be higher than the centre.
Bake in a slow oven (160) for 1 hour or until pavlova is dry to touch.
Cool in oven, if possible leave overnight.
Fill with whipped cream and decorated as desired.