Ana Pavlovna Pavlova, was the most famous Russian prima ballerina. On her tour, in 1920s, to Australia and New Zealand she has inspired still unknown chef to make this dessert. Her classical tutu was immortalized in wavy crust. Absence of butter and yolks, what most of us assume, gives lightness to this pancontinental dessert.
Australia and New Zealand have long-running dispute over who invented Pavlova. There are some written papers that New Zealanders had printed more that 10 recipes prior to the first Aussie printed version in 1940. A ruling has been made, but the debate may well continue.
The lightness of Pavlova dessert always has caught my attention. True, there is no butter, yolk or flower, but sugar content is large enough to make more than few cakes. Pancreas is drained out of insulin, I can imagine the peak concentration surging well over expected values. I’m not saying that is no good, or that it tastes bad. Far from it! When spring arrives with all the berries available, or summer stone juicy fruit give Pavlova needed acidity and a bit of tartness as a contrast to all this sweetness.
Chocoholic like me (now it is a good time to explain that no single smear of chocolate spread was wasted from the cover page of our blog) is a huge fan of Pavlova.
One fact bothers me, was Ana Pavlova allowed this cake? I think ballerinas are not known to devour cakes, sweets or even what scientists consider to be prescribed amount of calories. Did Diaghilev allow her to eat sweets, or she thanked our Kiwi patissier and hid her bite into a napkin? Maybe she had two helpings, not even blinking, after hard practice and demanding performances. I have to think twice to drink mineral water instead natural, any addition (albeit minerals) will show on my behind. And believe you me, it’s not IG quality photo.
Once, after the piece of Pavlova, I went with our dog Rico for a walk. Our active fury friend is so happy for any kind of activity. After piece of Pavlova, we went into the nearby woods for a walk. He was pleasantly surprised to see me running on the narrow trail with him. This time, I was pulling him instead otherwise. After our morning exercise, and obligatory hydration, I thought, why not a piece of Pavlova after workout? Ballerina had it for sure after her performance in “Death of the swan”. Ant there it was…my poor pancreas.
It took sometime before I gained the courage to make this dessert. I thought the crust would be too soft, too rare, too dry.
Later in the era of dish deconstruction (now I strongly believe it is just a bunch of failed recipes plated beautifully just to cover up kitchen disaster), I thought, that if I got the crust wrong, I would serve it “deconstructed” with crust “shards” inside of glass topped with whipping cream and fresh fruit.
As for now it didn’t happen, I have found reliable recipe.
I use it for 26 cm diameter crust, if you want smaller but thicker than experiment with the time of baking/drying.
4 egg whites (room temperature)
250 g sugar (terrible amount!)
2 tsp of corn flour
1 tsp white vinegar (If you have only red vinegar prepare yourself to the pinkish shade of crust)
a pinch of salt
Raspberries (as much as you want, serve the rest in a bowl)
1tbs of orange liquor (I still have it after making duck ravioli)
Vanilla flavored sugar, or separately add vanilla and sugar to your liking (otherwise if you like extra tartness leave it sugarless, your body will appreciate it)
Berries, apricots, peaches, mint, add whatever you want
Preheat the oven to 130°C
Place 4 egg whites in a large, dry, clean bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Mix it slowly (I use electric beaters) until frothy foam forms, then add sugar gradually and increase the speed of mixing until the mixture is thick and glossy. Fold in sifted corn flour and vinegar (either with metal spoon or beaters at very slow speed).
On the baking paper draw a circle and spoon the mixture into a mound and lightly flatten the top and smooth the sides. Bake it around 1 hour, and than leave it inside the oven with the door open.
For the marinade, mix the raspberries and, if you want, liquor. Place the part of your chosen fruit inside. Lightly whip the cream until soft peaks form. You can add yogurt if it suits you (my sister always add it).
Just before serving, assemble Pavlova. Bright red marinade is perfect contrast to whiteness of the cream and lightness of the crust. When it drizzles over the crevasses of crust, your tasters will get estatic!