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Pavlova Meringue Cake from Down Under

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When I was 19 years old, my family emigrated to Australia. I was in university so I didn’t move with them, but I spent my summers and Christmas holidays down under. My younger sister lamented that everything in Oz tasted a little “off”. Even Oreo cookies and Heinz ketchup were made using different recipes. She used to hoard ketchup packets from McDonalds because they were imported from North America. My parents would drool in the basement of the David Jones department store where they had an imported food section. I used to try and smuggle in Kraft Dinner for my Dad, but customs always seized them. Apparently those bright orange flavor packets actually contain some cheese. Who knew?

Some food was much tastier though. Especially the cheeses. If you ever find yourself in the land of Oz, definitely order yourself a cheese platter. It’s not only cheese that the Aussie’s specialize in though….there is also pavlova.

Pavlova is traditionally a single layer of meringue topped with whipped cream and lots of seasonal fruits. I was ambitious and decided to do a layered cake. Once you know how to make meringue it’s easy to make one or three layers depending on the occasion. I will explain in detail how to make the three layer cake and how to easily adjust the recipe to make a traditional pavlova.

To make three layers, you really need a double oven. Unless, of course, you have three hours to spend watching meringue baking and cooling. To start you’re going to preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Line a flat cookie tray with parchment paper. Trace out a 7-8 inch circle. (I traced a side plate.) Repeat with a second tray and try to fit in two more circles. (If you’re making a single layer, just trace out one 10-12 inch circle).

Sprinkle cornstarch over the circles to prevent the meringue from sticking.

In a large bowl separate out your egg whites. You cannot have even a single drop of yolk or grease in your bowl. If you do, start over. It won’t work.

Here’s the trickiest part…beat the eggs until they are stiff and forming small peaks, but are NOT DRY. You do not want to overbeat the eggs or they will collapse when folding in the final ingredients.

One tablespoon at a time, add the sugar and beat between each addition until fully incorporated. This will take some time. Be patient. You are making the meringue now. (If you have a stand mixer I would use it!) Continue to whip the egg whites while adding sugar until they are thick and glossy.

Fold in the vanilla, lemon juice and cornstarch until fully combined.

Equally divide the meringue mixture between the three circles.

Using the back of a spoon or spatula work the mixture, from the center out, to the edges of the circle, forming a disc. (This is actually quite easy). Smooth the top of the disc as best you can. Ensure that your discs are flat so that you can stack them. (If making a single layer build up the rim slightly so that it will hold in your whipped cream and fruit).

Bake for one hour. After one hour turn off the oven, but leave your meringues inside to cool for another 30 minutes. This will prevent further cracking.

 

After completely cooled, carefully peel the parchment paper off the meringue. Place your first layer on a flat plate or cake platter.

Whip up your filling ingredients until stiff. Spoon into a ziplock plastic bag and cut one bottom corner off to allow you to pipe out the cream.

On your bottom layer, pipe cream from the center out, in lines. Top with fruit. (If making a single layer, you’re done!)

Repeat for second layer.

Add top layer. Evenly spread cream on top and add more sliced fruit. Garnish with more fruit.

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Refrigerate until ready to serve and plate with extra sliced fruit.

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Pavlova Cake
Ingredients
  • 8 egg whites room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
Filling:
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extra
  • 5-6 kiwis peeled and sliced
  • 5-6 strawberries sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees

  2. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper

  3. Trace out 3, 7-8 inch circles. Sprinkle with cornstarch

  4. In a large bowl, separate out your egg whites. Ensure that no yolks or grease enters the bowl. If it does, start over

  5. Beat egg whites until stiff and forming small peaks, but NOT DRY.

  6. Slowly add sugar, one tbsp at a time, beating well in between each addition. This will take time. Be patient. Beat until mixture becomes thick and glossy.

  7. Fold in vanilla, lemon juice and cornstarch until well combined

  8. Divide mixture evenly among the three circles

  9. Using the back of a spoon or a spatula, spread,(from the center out), towards the edges of the circle. Make a flat disc and smooth out best as possible 

  10. Bake for 1 hr. After one hour turn off the oven, but leave the meringues inside to cool for 30 minutes. This prevents further cracking

  11. Once completely cooled, carefully peel off parchment paper

  12. Place bottom meringue on a flat plate or cake platter

  13. In a large bowl, beat together heavy cream, vanilla and powdered sugar until stiff

  14. Spoon whipped cream into a Ziploc bag. Seal and cut one bottom corner off to allow you to pipe out the cream

  15. Starting from the center of the meringue disc, pipe cream to the edges in lines

  16. Top with kiwi and strawberries.

  17. Repeat for second layer

  18. Add top meringue. Spread whipped cream evenly over the top and garnish with more fruit

  19. Store in fridge and serve with more sliced fruit

Recipe Notes

To make a single layer traditional Pavlova, divide the recipe in half. Make one 10-12 inch meringue. Build up rim of disc slightly to hold your whipped cream and fruit in.