If you have been following our Ice ice Baby series and making any of our egg-based ice creams, you will probably have a lot of egg whites left. So what should you do with leftover egg whites? Make pavlova.
What is pavlova?
Pavlova is an iconic Australian dessert. If it wasn’t for the debate over whether it was invented in New Zealand or Australia, it probably would be Australia’s national dish.
Pavlova is named after Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia in 1926. It is a meringue-based cake that has a crisp crust and is ‘as light as air’ inside, just like Anna Pavlova when she danced.
I had never made it from scratch
I’m Australian and I bake regularly. It is therefore perhaps a surprise that I have never made pavlova before. At least, I have never made it from scratch. I have always cheated and either used a mix or purchased one from the supermarket.
Even using a mix, I have not always had success. I tried to make one memorable pavlova while I was studying in Germany. I say tried as it remained runny, no matter how long it was in the oven. And it was in the oven for a looooong time.
So it was with some trepidation that I decided to make pavlova from the egg whites that were leftover from making Baileys Irish ice cream.
Top your pavlova with cream and fruit. The great thing is that you can use the cream and fruit to hide any of the inevitable cracks in your pavlova. Can you tell that I have had to do this on more than one occasion?
There is some debate about what traditionally goes on top of a pavlova. Some people prefer to use mascarpone instead of whipped cream, but whipped cream is traditional. It’s a question of personal taste.
As far as fruit is concerned, it really is anything goes. Traditionally, it would be strawberries, kiwi fruit and passionfruit. Personally, I like raspberries and strawberries. Today, I used nectarine and raspberries, because that is what I had on hand.
Some people prefer to have chocolate on their pavlova. Strawberries with chocolate shavings are common. I have even seen After Eight chocolate mints on pavlova before.
What do you do with your leftover pavlova?
Any leftover pavlova can be used for Eton mess. It was one of Mum’s favourite desserts – she would order Eton mess regularly when we went out for dinner.
Eton mess: A mixture of strawberries or red berries, whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream and broken meringue. Mess refers either to its appearance or because it was ‘eaten in company,’ originally in college mess halls.
Pavlova is as ‘light as air’ and a great way to use leftover egg whites. The classic Australian/New Zealand dish is actually quite easy to make, as long as you follow some easy tips.
4 egg whites
1 cup of fine castor sugar
3 tsp. cornflour (corn starch)
1 tsp. normal vinegar
Fruit or topping of your choice
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Continue whisking the egg whites and add the sugar, little by little, until they become glossy.
Sift the cornflour over the egg mixture and mix it in.
Fold in the vinegar.
Heap the egg white mixture onto a lined baking tray. The ‘heap’ should have an approximate circumference of 18 cm.
Place the tray in the middle of the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 120°c. If your oven runs hot, turn it down to 100°c.
Bake for one hour, then turn off the heat, keep the door closed and leave the pavlova in the oven until the oven completely cools. This will normally take about an hour.
Spread with whipped cream and top with fruit of your choice.
Pavlova is surprisingly easy, as long as you adhere to a few rules.
Make sure your bowl and whisk attachment are super clean. Even a little bit of fat will stop your egg whites from turning white and fluffy. Give the bowl and risk attachment an extra wash in warm water with soap before using them to make the pavlova and dry them well.
Use superfine caster sugar, not just what sugar. Regular white sugar is too heavy and won’t give you that ‘light as air’ consistency.
Use regular vinegar in the pavlova. Flavoured vinegar will just make the pavlova taste funny. However, strawberries and balsamic vinegar and basil glaze can be fantastic as a topping.
Do NOT open the oven door until the oven is completely cool. This will normally be about one hour after turning off the heat but might vary depending on your oven. If you open it too early, your pavlova with sink.