Pavlova is one of those cakes that leaves your mouth open. A nest of crunchy meringue covered with whipped cream and berries. The Pavlova cake may have a Russian name, but its origins take us to the Antipodes. Although there are still disputes between Australia and New Zealand about who can take the credit of the recipe, everything indicates that it was created in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.
And what is the story behind the Russian name? When the Russian dancer Anna Pavlova visited the country during her world tour in 1926, the chef of the hotel in which she was staying devised a light dessert for her and named it in her honour.
The only mystery of the Pavlova cake is its meringue, which should be crispy on the outside but soft in the centre. The meringue nest can be prepared well in advance, but the whipped cream and fresh berries should be added at the very last minute, as they could moisten it and make it lose its consistency.
- 3 egg whites
- 180 grams of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (or a few drops of lemon)
- 1 teaspoon of vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- 350 ml of liquid whipped cream
- fruit of choice (strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
- We start by preparing the French meringue: place the whites in a bowl, add cream of tartar or lemon and beat them at high speed. When the egg whites have started to appear firmer, add the sugar little by little. Add the vinegar and the cornstarch without stopping to beat. When the mixture doesn't lose its form when moved, it is ready.
- Put the mixture on a baking paper with a spatula, giving it a round shape and making a shallow hole in the center, as if it were a nest. Put the meringue in the oven at 140ºC (without air) or 120ºC (with air) for an hour and a half. Take it out and let it cool.
- Shortly before serving the pavlova, whip the cream until it appears firm, (but not too much!). Using a spoon, spread it on the top of the meringue.
- Finish the dessert by putting your fruit - strawberries, raspberries, red berries, passion fruit, pomegranate, or even caramelized apple - decoratively on top of the cream and serve immediately.
- To make a more voluminous Pavlova cake, bake two or three smaller meringue nests, placing them on top of each with a layer of cream between each meringue.