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Pavlova with Summer Fruit

Pavolva with Summer Fruit

Pavolva with Summer Fruit

When I think of a Russian ballet dancer do not think of my husband but I do think of a light lovely cake that would be perfect to serve on a summer evening.

Mixture of Summer Fruit

Mixture of Summer Fruit

This year for his birthday cake, I wanted to make something non chocolate. Why would I ever do such a thing? I want to leave chocolate cake with a bang… for a little while at least.  I have made two great chocolate cakes recently and have a feeling that the third will not be a charm.  For his birthday cake I didn’t want to make something that was not as good as what I made last year. First, because of my ego and secondly because he would be sure to tell me that it was not as good as last year.
Egg whites at soft peaks stage, ready for sugar addition.

Egg whites at soft peaks stage, ready for sugar addition.

It has been hot here and the berries and fruits have been plentiful. I thought maybe something lighter would be preferable after a hot day for the palate and also for the home. The oven and air conditioning battling it out was not something I wanted to referee. It was decided I was going to make a light pretty dessert in honor of my husbands
birthday.
Egg whites at stiff peaks stage

Egg whites at stiff peaks stage

After scouring the books and internet for a recipe that I could execute in the current condition, I came across one from The Joy of Baking that could work. I modified it a bit but it turned out lovely.
Vinegar with cornstarch

Vinegar with cornstarch

Some notes: The meringue is sweet. The whipped cream is sweet. To balance it a bit you could use tart fruits to top it. I added some kiwi to it but you could also add some pomegranate seeds or even the pulp from a passion fruit or two…if the season allows. I also added fruits that were macerated a bit which was well received but I think some fresh unmolested fruit would have made it better.  My sweet tooth has been on a bit of a hiatus and was not appreciating the sweetness.
7 inch circle on parchment

7 inch circle on parchment

This desert is meant not to have any left overs if made in one large Pavolova.  Instead you can make smaller individual cakes and serve them as needed but baking time would have to be changed.  Just cook on low heat and slowly until you see the meringue turn a slight cream color indicating it is finished.
 Starting transfer
Starting transfer
Another suggestion would be to use some lemon curd as the base or even mix it into the whip cream for added tartness.  Which can be made from the left over yolks from the eggs used in this recipe. That is for another blog. I am surprised I haven’t made lemon curd since I love it so much. What I love even more than lemon curd is when things come together like the left over yolk being used for the curd which can be placed on the Pavlova.
Transfer complete

Transfer complete

In learning about meringue I found there is so much science behind it. I am a nerd at heart so of course I wanted to share it with you.  I think if you know the science of what you are making then you can correct issues to fix problems or know why you are using what instead of blindly following recipes and being disappointing when they do not come out correctly. If you do not care about this part, skip the next paragraph.
Filling circle, making sure the edges are higher than center to hold the fruit

Filling circle, making sure the edges are higher than center to hold the fruit

Science of meringue in a nutshell: Egg whites are protein (think of a wadded ball) and you need to break them down so they become long chains. This is done physically or chemically. In making a meringue, we do it both ways beating it and using an acid.  Once we have the long chains we use sugar to bond with them and lend them water allowing for strength and elasticity so the bubbles don’t pop or your meringue deflates.
Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Then you want to slow the coagulation of these bubbles so you can add more air and also decrease the loss of water.  Acid helps do that (vinegar, lemon juice or cream of tartar) also those fancy copper pots aren’t just for looks they also allow for slower coagulation by allowing copper to bind to protein which in turn raises the temperature needed for the coagulation to occur.  That is why you either use a fancy copper bowl or you use an acid… but not both together. Fresher eggs also have more acid in them as well so they are recommended. Baking at a low temperature for a moderate amount of time allows for the air bubbles to grow, water evaporate and even coagulation through the whole meringue… allowing for a puffy light mesh inside.  Cooking too fast, too hot will cause the top to brown and the water no place to escape so you will have a wet mess.
Cooled pavolva base

Cooled pavolva base

Recipe: Summer Pavolva with Fruit

Ingredients

  • 4 large (120 grams) egg whites
  • 1 cup (200 grams) superfine or castor sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) granulated white sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Mixture of fresh fruit, pomegranate seeds or passion fruit pulp

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250, rack in center of oven.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch circle on the paper.
  3. Beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat, on high speed, until the meringue holds very stiff and shiny peaks.
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract mixed in with cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, gently fold in. Spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges.
  5. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the outside is dry and a very pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven.
  6. Just before serving gently place the meringue onto a serving plate. Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla and place on top of meringue Then top with fruit and serve immediately.

Preparation time: 1 hour(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Finished product

Finished product

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