Pavlova is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both Australia & New Zealand, and is frequently served during celebratory or holiday meals such as Christmas dinner.
"Pavlova is a light and fluffy meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. Both Wellington, New Zealand and Perth, Australia claim to be the home of the dish. The earliest record of the recipe is a cookbook published in New Zealand in 1933, two years before claims made in Perth."
(Russian: А́нна Па́влова). Colloquially referred to as "pav", it is a cake of meringue with a crispy crust and soft, light inner. The name is pronounced /pævˈloʊvə, pɑːv-/, unlike the name of the dancer which was pronounced /ˈpɑːvləvə, ˈpæv-/.
"The dessert is believed to have been created to honour the dancer during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Where it was created and the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but research indicates New Zealand as the source."
"Pavlova is traditionally decorated with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Factory-made pavlovas can be purchased at supermarkets in those countries and decorated as desired."
A popular tried and true recipe:
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons water
250g (9 oz.) caster sugar
pinch of salt
5 ml or 1 tsp vinegar
5 ml or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cornstarch (optional)
1. Beat the egg whites and salt to a very stiff consistency. Add water and beat again before folding in caster sugar, vanilla and vinegar. Beat until the mixture holds its shape and stands in sharp peaks.
2. Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Slow-bake the mixture at 150°C (300°F) to dry all the moisture and create the meringue, approximately 45 minutes. This leaves the outside of the pavlova a crisp crunchy shell, while the interior remains soft and moist.
3. A top tip (but not traditional) is to turn the pavlova upside down before decorating with cream and fruit because the bottom is less crispy than the top after cooking and unless you serve it immediately after decorating the "top" absorbs moisture from the cream. Another tip is to leave the pavlova in the oven after turning off the heat - this helps to prevent the middle of the pavlova from collapsing (although if it does collapse, generous application of cream can hide any mistakes!)
Preparation and consumption
"Pavlova is made by beating egg whites (and sometimes salt) to a very stiff consistency before folding in caster sugar, white vinegar, cornstarch, and sometimes vanilla, and slow-baking the mixture to create the meringue. This makes the outside of the pavlova a crisp crunchy shell, while the interior remains soft and moist. The pavlova's internal consistency is thus completely different from that normally associated with meringue, having more of a soft marshmallow texture."
"Pavlova is traditionally decorated with a topping of whipped cream and fresh fruit of sweet/tart flavours, such as strawberries and kiwifruit, or passionfruit and banana or berries and peach slices. Raspberry is a popular topping in the United Kingdom, with the tartness of raspberries contrasting with the sweetness of sugar. Factory-made pavlovas can be purchased at supermarkets and decorated as desired. A commercial product is available that includes pre-mixed ingredients for baking the meringue shell, requiring only the addition of water and sugar."
"All currently available research suggests the recipe originated in New Zealand, and as for the Anzac biscuit, the earliest known books containing the recipe were published in New Zealand."
"Keith Money, a biographer of Anna Pavlova, wrote that a New Zealand chef in a hotel in Wellington, New Zealand, created the dish when Pavlova visited there in 1926 on her world tour."
"Professor Helen Leach, a culinary anthropologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, has researched the pavlova, and has compiled a library of cookbooks containing 667 pavlova recipes from more than 300 sources. Her book, The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History, contains a timeline of pavlova history which gives 1935 for the first Australian pavlova recipe and 1929 for the recipe in the rural magazine NZ Dairy Exporter Annual."
"A "Pavlova Time Line" also appears on the Australian website "Australian Favour" and gives an even earlier date, 1926, when Home Cookery for New Zealand, by E Futter, contained a recipe for “Meringue with Fruit Filling.” It wasn't named but the recipe was similar to today's Pavlova."
"It has been claimed that Bert Sachse originated the dish at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth, Australia in 1935. A relative of Sachse's wrote to Leach suggesting that Sachse possibly got the year wrong when dating the recipe, but Leach replied they wouldn't find evidence for that, "simply because it's just not showing up in the cookbooks until really the 1940s in Australia." Of such arguments Matthew Evans, a restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald said it was unlikely a definitive answer about the pavlova's origins would ever be found. "People have been doing meringue with cream for a long time, I don't think Australia or New Zealand were the first to think of doing that," he said."
Holiday recipes deserve a dedicated section because of their variety and richness.