Is it weird that I made a Pavlova which is a typical Australian/New Zealand dessert for Canada day? Well in my defense, firstly, I did not know that (I just looked it up on Wikipedia). Its only a few months since I arrived in Canada, so I am still allowed to make such silly goofs. Finally, I only wanted to highlight the delicious summer fruits of this country and I innocently picked the Pavlova to be the white canvas on which to do so.
I hope those are good enough explanations to redeem myself!
That being said, I truly enjoyed my first Canada day weekend. We did not go to Ottawa for the fireworks, but in true Canadian fashion went away from the city for a chilled long weekend at the family cottage by the lake to spend our days lazily floating in the water, barbecuing on the sun-soaked deck, listening to hummingbirds flap their little wings and gazing at stars at midnight.
For a city girl like me, it is hard to pick between the stillness of nature and the buzz of the city that I am used to. I truly enjoy the slow paced rhythm in the woods and at the same time I miss listening to the sounds of people and machines. I am terrified of the pitch dark and yet there is something so mesmerizing about sun rays sparkling off the surface of the still waters. Can I live all my days at the cottage in the middle of nowhere? I don’t think so… But now that I know a bit of country life, it is hard to never return to it.
I made the Pavlova a day ahead and left it in the oven to cool completely. We learnt this at baking class – for a crack free meringue. It was beautiful and completely crack-free until I decided to cram it in with a ton of groceries and take it on a 4-hour drive! Honestly, I am lucky it was not completely destroyed and I we didn’t have to use the remains as icing sugar on top of the berries.
Pavlovas are deceptive in the sense that one may think that it is flourless, yolk-less and fat-less but it does have quite a lot of sugar. I don’t think that sugar can be substituted for honey or maple syrup because sugar gives form to the egg whites… but if anyone has experimented and successfully made a version with lesser sugar, do let me know.
Since it is so sweet, it pair well with tart fruits like berries or lemon curd. I used my roasted strawberry syrup, which I absolutely love! You can adjust the sugar in the syrup, if you want to make it more tart. Also I placed a bit of softly whipped cream in the centre. All in all a light summery-cottagey dessert.
Pavlova with Strawberry Syrup and Cream
Serves – 8 sugary portions
4 large egg whites
¾ cup superfine (castor) sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tbsp cornstarch (corn flour)
1/3 cup whipped cream
½ cup roasted strawberry syrup
1 cup mixed berries / cherries
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 – 8inch circle on the paper. Turn the parchment paper so you can only see a faint mark of the circle. This is so that the pencil mark does not stick on the meringue. Preheat oven to 250F.
- In a very clean / grease proof bowl, whisk the egg whites on medium high speed till soft peaks form. Start adding the sugar one tbsp. at a time. Whisk a few seconds after every addition. Beat till stiff and shiny peaks form. Feel the meringue between your forefinger and thumb. If still grainy from sugar, beat a bit more till smooth. However, we DO NOT want to over-beat the meringue.
- Add the maple syrup, cornflour and vinegar. Using a spatula gently fold until fully incorporated.
- Spread the meringue on the parchment paper within the circle. Make sure the edges are higher than the centre to form kind of a shallow well which we will later fill with cream.
- Bake for 60 – 75mins until it looks dry and has a pale cream colour. Mine took around 70mins
- Turn the oven off and leave the meringue inside with the door slightly open for several hours or overnight. This helps to avoid cracks.
- When ready to serve, place the whipped cream in the center well of the pavlova. Drizzle strawberry syrup generously and place the berries and cherries in heaps. Eat immediately and finish the whole damn thing while you are at it!
The meringue can be stored at room temperature in an air-tight container for 2-3 days. Once dressed with all the toppings, it will absorb moisture and start to become soft.
Adapted from Joy of Baking