Summer Strawberry Pavlova

Canadian summer dessertThere’s a debate at to the real origin of Pavlova…New Zealanders claim it but it was a fabulous Australian cook, June Pearson, who shared this recipe with me a few years ago.  In Australia baking must be fast and easy, particularly in the summer when the thermometer soars but when fresh fruit is at its best.   For this picture, I garnished it with some bergamot blossoms.

This Pavlova is what its creator would have wished.  Crisp and snowy on the outside and marshmallow-like on the inside.   It can be stored for a few days in an airtight container but may have to be crisped again in a slow oven. The topping is lightly sweetened whipped cream and seasonal fruits…one of which must be somewhat tart.  Strawberries and kiwi are a common topping down under but here you can use a mixture of fresh berries, some sliced peaches, nectarines or apricots.   When it is inverted and the parchment is removed, the Pavlova will fall a bit and it becomes easier to fill and to serve.

  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 mL) superfine sugar
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
  • 2 tsps (10 mL) white vinegar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream 35%
  • 2 tsps (10 mL) superfine sugar
  • Fresh fruit, as needed
  • Bergamot blossoms as garnish (optional)

Lightly oil or butter a baking sheet and line with parchment.  Beat the egg whites till stiff enough to hold soft peaks.  Slowly beat in the sugar a few spoonfuls at a time.  This will take 2 to 3 minutes.  The resulting meringue will be shiny and soft.  Sift the cornstarch over it and lightly fold it in with the vinegar.

Drop the meringue onto the centre of the prepared pan.  With a spatula spread it to an 8” (20 cm) circle, smoothing the top and the sides.  Bake in a preheated 250 ‘F (120’C) oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan.  Store in an airtight container or use immediately.

To fill, whip the cream with the sugar until stiff.  Invert the Pavlova onto a serving dish.  The smooth bottom becomes the top of the dessert.  Spoon the whipped cream over the entire surface.  Arrange the fresh fruit on top.  Serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Recipe from Anita Stewart’s CANADA: the Food, the Recipes, the Stories (Harper Collins Canada 2008) 

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