Pavlova, a meringue dessert covered in whipped cream and fresh fruit, was invented in
In my hopes to find an original pavlova recipe, something my mum always made for every party we held at our house in our big wooden house in Mt Victoria, I consulted two of the very few NZ cookbooks I have in my Cretan kitchen. One of the books is almost as old as myself. As I browsed through the yellow pages of the NZ Women’s Weekly Cookbook, I wondered what on earth made me carry this book to the other side of the earth when I left my birth country. I suppose it was the fact that it had the words ‘
Both cookbooks contain exactly the same recipe for pavlova, which is given below. Ivy recently made a pavlova using lemon juice, something a kiwi would never do. A teaspoon of vinegar is added to remove an over-eggy smell, while a tablespoon of cornflour is added to give the meringue a smoother appearance. I also have my mother’s old notebook in her own handwriting. Even though she never cooked
5 egg whites
3 tablespoons of cold water
1 ¼ cup of sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 teaspoon of vinegar
Whisk the egg whites till stiff. Add the water and beat again. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until the meringue is thick and glossy. Fold in salt, cornflour, vinegar and vanilla essence. Dollop the meringue into an 8-inch, preferably springform, tin (I used a tin with a removable bottom – another
When it has cooled down completely, peel away the papers and turn onto a plate dusted with icing sugar. If the bottom paper doesn’t come away easily, leave it, and remove the dessert from it as you slice it. Decorate the pavlova with whipped cream and sliced seasonal fruit, the most common being kiwifruit and strawberries. I decorated mine with strawberries from Crete and kiwifruit from
Pavlova needs to be cooked in the evening – a time when you are not going to use the oven for anything else afterwards – and allowed to dry out in the oven overnight. When cooked, it should have a thick crusty beige colour, with a soft lily white centre. It may sink a little after cooking, but this doesn’t matter so much, since it’s going to be covered in whipped cream. Neither does it matter if the crust breaks; the cream will help it to adhere to the meringue. My mother used to shape it into a ball so that when it sunk, it wouldn’t distort the shape of the cake. It keeps for up to a week (outside the fridge in an airtight container; in New Zealand, we had a special pavlova cake tray – now long gone – to keep it in); add the cream and fruit as nearest to the hour as when you are going to serve it – keep it in the fridge till then.
This post is dedicated to Will and Bella Parker, ex-patriate New Zealanders who were travelling with a group of other kiwis visiting my beautiful town just the other day. I noticed something very New Zealandish about the tour group’s T-shirts. They were all wearing name tags. I caught the name on one of them: Ngaire, a beautiful Aotearoan name. If I had another daughter, I'd name her Elina (the Greek word for flax linen is λινό, lino), just so I can call her Ngaire. There was no mistaking that group for anything other than kiwis, so I said hello. They all stopped and greeted me, tiki and koru gleaming emerald green round their necks: “What are you doing here?” they asked me, a funny thing to ask a Greek, most would think. Kiwi accents stay with you forever. “I should be asking you that question!” I replied, and we all laughed together. I bumped into them when their coach pulled up outside the Agora; I’ve already told you before, you never know who you might bump into there.
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