Birthday Pavlova

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Every year on my birthday, my family would have my favorite dessert, Pavlova. Inspired by the famous prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia in the 1920s, this meringue, whipped cream and fruit concoction is an Australian institution. I’ve since heard that it has been also claimed by New Zealand, which Pavlova also visited on her 1926 tour. This is, of course, just one in a long line of disputed cultural icons ranging from film actors to politicians. Difficulties in Australian/NZ relations aside, it’s a pretty delicious dessert.

Being a busy working woman, my mother purchased my birthday pavlovas from Pavlova Pantry — yes, the dessert was so popular in Sydney through the 1970s and 80s that a chain of these popped up serving huge and quite good pavlovas. I don’t know if they still exist. Much later, after moving to the US, I found that it is really easy to make yourself, and quite a bit nicer than the store-bought variety.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees

Beat the following until stiff peaks form:
4 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
¼ salt

Add:
1 cup sugar, ¼ cup at a time until incorporated and mixture is stiff and glossy

Then add:
4 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence

Put mixture into a lightly greased and floured 8” springform pan, heaping so slightly higher at sides than center (don’t worry about what the top looks like, as this will be completely covered at the end)

Bake for 1 hour until firm and lightly browned. The pavlova will have a crisp meringue crust but stay moist on the inside

Cool slightly and unmold. When completely cool, top with 1 cup heavy cream whipped stiff. Top this with berries tossed in Grand Marnier. You can also use other fruits (e.g. passionfruit, kiwi fruit). Refrigerate uncovered until ready to serve.

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  • I had no idea how easy – and so elegant! The edible flowers really add a lovely touch.

  • Your pavlova looks lovely. How did you find violets at this time of year?

  • kat

    I’ve only had Pavlova once & it was for a Scottish friend’s birthday. I don’t think they were ever as big in the US though I’m not sure why as they taste so good!

  • Ivy

    You are right, Pavlova is very easy to make and I love the way you have decorated it.

  • Lisl,
    Happy Birthday!
    I have never had pavlova, I have only heard of the ballerina!
    Beautifully done!
    Stacey

  • You know, I’ve never had Pavlova! It looks delicious and you’ve so beautifully decorated it!

  • I hope you had a great birthday.

    I love pavlova. It’s a really simple combination of flavors and textures that is just uncommonly good. I have heard about the whole Australia/NZ fight over it and I think it’s just hilarious.

  • This was such an amazing dessert! And it kept really well the second day too. Great memories!