Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Return of the Pavlova

Pavlova (food)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Colloquially referred to as "pav", it is a cake similar to meringue with a crispy crust and soft, light inner.
Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Ánna Pávlova.
The name is pronounced /pævˈloʊvə/ or /pɑːvˈloʊvə/, unlike the name of the dancer, which was /ˈpɑːvləvə/ 
or /ˈpævləvə/. The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after 
one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of its creator has been a source of 
argument between the two nations for many years, but formal research indicates New Zealand as the more 
probable source.
The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of 
the national cuisine of both countries, and is frequently 
served during celebratory and holiday meals.

It goes against all my instincts to post a cooking story that was not a smashing success, but I will anyway because I'm not a food blogger or a chef, just a glutton who happens to have a blog.
Besides, as you will see, this pavlova recipe is a problem wrapped in a riddle inside a conundrum, with just a little dash of cultural misunderstanding to boot.
As some of you may remember, the pavlova was supposed to be my Valentine's day sweet for my sweetie, but after several hours of egg white angst, Fahrenheit vs. Celsius confusion, and fatigue (all set against the backdrop of whiny baby), the cake went into the trashcan. It was hard on my ego because I am generally quite a good baker. My obsessive compulsive need to check and recheck proportions over and over again usually result in a fine baked product.
Not this time. The first time I attempted it I was baffled by the metric measurements of the Australian recipe, but I made do with a online conversion chart. The one thing I forgot to convert was Celsius to Fahrenheit. Disaster. Even if I hadn't made that fatal flaw the cake would have failed, because I put the cake on parchment paper, not waxed paper. So the whole thing stuck to the parchment like hard little Frisbees. There were other problems. Apparently letting egg whites sit while you puzzle out conversions and try to draw perfect circles is bad. Taking egg white cakes out of the oven for a while and then putting them back in, also bad. Drinking a few glasses of wine while you do all this- fun, but it doesn't make it any easier.
The cake I made last night is an amalgam of the original recipe, some tips from my Kiwi friend, and a Epicurious recipe.
Here is the result.

Hmmm. It doesn't really look like the beautiful Pavlova pictured above, does it? It might even look a little bit like a cow flop, no? It did look a little better sliced.

A little better, right? Or does it look like a cow flop that grew a mouth and is choking something up? It does, doesn't it?
It tasted delicious though, and that's what really matters. It was creamy meringuey chocolaty goodness. It was what a unicorn would eat at a unicorn tea party. 
If you decide to try it, Go with God my friend. Buy an extra carton of eggs.


  1. ...but one time you make me a plum cake that brought tears to my eyes. it might be the most delicious thing i've ever eaten. so there's that.

  2. I give you so much credit for trying to make it again. Really, if it tastes good that is all that matters.

  3. Yay, you did it! They usually look ok before you slice and then it all turns to mess. The beauty of the pav is that it's all yumminess and that is the whole point of it. Meringue, cream and fruit; who wouldn't love it. And in this case; meringue, cream and chocolate. Well done Emily. You got back on the horse. Now practice makes perfect.

  4. Um, I'd still eat it. All of it. I'm impressed that you tried again, because that first recipe lost me at something called "fan-bake" :) XOXO lovey!

  5. PS - can we get that plum cake recipe up in here PLEASE????


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