I knew about pavlova from the endless hours i spent lurking about in food blogs and baking books. The truth is, i have never seen a pav (short for pavlova, of course) with my own eyes, and needless to say, i have never tasted one.
I came across the recipe for this on a book titled Cheesecake, Pavlova and Trifle which was marked down for a Christmas sale. I grabbed the book mindlessly, almost certain that i would have a post purchase regret as a baking book that focused on so little items ( cheesecake, pavlova and trifle) would usually mean a base recipe repeated over and over again, with perhaps different toppings or different flavourings. I am sure many of you have experienced tweaking your cookies with chocolate chips, raisins or whatever you fancy with your very trusted basic cookie recipe.
This was fortunately, not the case with this book. I was browsing the book (pictures first of course) when i noticed that each of the pavlova recipe featured was different. All of them however, had the mandatory egg whites and sugar, but even so, the two ingredients were of varying ratio with respect to each other.
And being me, of course, i had to choose what in my opinion was the most controversial and possibly most challenging recipe of the lot. A pavlova recipe of egg whites and icing sugar and.. get this, boiling water.
Basically, the egg whites, icing sugar, and water were whipped together. I poured my boiling water gradually as i didnt want to scramble my egg whites, and got really worried when i got a wet batter that didn’t look like it would thicken up the way whipped egg whites do.
It took much longer, but eventually, the egg whites did turn voluminous and glossy with stiff peaks (PHEW!).
All that apprehension were not for naught though, for this recipe yielded a crusty meringue with a marshmallow-ey centre. It was like eating on a puff of clouds, sweet,soft, chewy, yet with a crusty exterior.
My pavlova was served with a dollop of whipped cream and a generous drizzle of berry sauce and a handful of fresh berries. All i can think of was WOW! That’s indeed summer goodness in a bowl!! It was fruity, zesty and very refreshing! The sweetness from the pav was able to offset the tartness from the berries, and the dollop of whipped cream, neutral and unsweetened, was the perfect middleman to bring the two together. 🙂
While this book is a thumb up with its multiple base recipe, it didn’t explain how each of the ingredients would affect on the overall texture or taste of the pavlova. I had recipes that called for cornstarch and vinegar, and some which only required the indispensable egg whites and sugar.
Besides the varying ingredients, the baking temperature and times were also different for each of the recipes.
Again, nothing was mentioned about how that would affect the overall result. HArruumpphh.
Well, whatever the case, i guess i just had to try each of the recipes and hopefully be able to spot the differences.
Pavlova & Berries
Adapted from Cheesecake, Pavlova & Trifle*
For the pavlova:
3 egg whites
320 icing sugar
125 boiling water
1. Place your baking rack on the lower third of your oven and preheat it to 375. Line your baking sheet with parchment.
2. Beat egg whites, sugar and water till stiff peaks.
3. With a large spoon, divide your beaten egg whites into 6 and drop them onto your baking sheet.
4. Bake with the lower heat on for 25 minutes or till the surface of the meringue and dry and crusty.
For the Berry sauce:
125 ml cranberry/ raspberry juice
1 TBS lemon juice
55 g caster sugar
1 TBS cornflour
1 TBS water
500 grams fresh berries
For the Whipped Cream, i used about 300ml.
1. Mix together the juice, lemon juice, sugar in a saucepan. Heat over the stove till sugar has dissolved, but take care not to let the mixture boil.
2. Dissolve cornflour in the water, add it into the mixture. Whisk while allowing the mixture to come to a boil.
3. Add the fresh berries.
*Note: The book is in Indonesian, please bear with my poor translating skills, but if you do have any questions, i will be more than happy to clarify.
I would also suggest making this close to serving time as the cream and berries would cause the pavlova to get soggy. A tip from the book also states that a pav made in advance might shrink a bit.