Sunday, 8 December 2013

Seven Top Tips to the Perfect Christmas Pavlova

Once upon a time when I wanted inspiration for what to cook I would open one of my cookbooks and look inside. Now I tend to turn to Pinterest where I found this amazing looking object and pinned it. I am, like many others I suppose, somewhat guilty of pinning and never making but this time I was committed to giving this a try.

Now where I'm from Pavlova is a traditional thing, usually made in a disk, I've never seen it with a hole in the middle. In our family one of our Christmas traditions is to have a small pudding, often a Legacy one, or from the local CWA shop (equivalent to the WI). Australian puddings are different a little to here, cooked in a calico cloth, and boiled rather than steamed. Alongside this we serve a cold dessert.

We had our extended famiy from my husband's side over this weekend and I decided to cook this amazing confection for dessert. Here are the step by step pictures.

Here are my additional tips for the perfect pavlova.

1. Know your oven. Pavlovas like a steady low heat, there are several methods my preferred one is the overnight method, heat your oven to 250 degrees whilst you make your pavlova, turn the oven off then leave it overnight.

2. Go electric. I am fortunate to have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, I used to have a Kenwood which was just as good. You can use a hand held electric beater with good effect, as long as you have a nice big bowl. Don't be tempted to try a handwhisk. I am sure it can be done, but its probably best to make something else!

3. Allow plenty of time. Whatever oven method you use the pavlova must cool in the oven, you will stress it out and make it cry if you move it when hot (seriously it will weep). If you need a dessert in a hurry, make something else.

4. Beat well after addition of sugar. You must add the sugar slowly and beat well after each addition. If you don't the crystals of sugar will remain large and will contribute to weeping, as they will melt as the pavlova cools.

5. Cracking is normal Some cracking is inevitable. That's why pavlovas are covered in cream and fruit!

6. Pavlovas are soft and marshmallowey in the middle A lot of cooks cook the pavlova so its like a French Meringue, but a soft squidgy interior is, in my opinion, the desired result.

7. Don't add flavouring to the pavlova mix With many things I experiment with Pavlova I am a purist. No greated chocolate, no nuts, no nothing in the actual meringue mix. Go crazy with toppings and the cream filling if you wish.

As its included in the original recipe I didn't include it as a tip, but it is essential your eggs are at room temperature. Fridge cold eggs will not get enough volume and your pavlova won't be successful. 

The pavlova following this recipe came out perfectly. I think the wreath formation encouraged more even cooking, and I was very impressed with the result, as were the guests. And everyone cleared their plates.

I hope this has encouraged you to try something different this Christmas. 

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