FLAVOURS: PIROUETTES AND PAVLOVAS

PIROUETTES AND PAVLOVAS

Written by Samantha Molnar
Photography by Madeline Gill

Edited by Mateo Jarrín Cuvi

Sometimes I can’t talk. When I can’t talk, I dance.

Sure, some people may see my graceful movements as erratic, uncontrolled gesticulating, but to the trained eye, I am conveying a complex range of emotions in a unique style of interpretive dance. Over time, instead of developing my vocabulary in an attempt to verbally express myself, I have become a very impressive dancer: though not impressive enough to inspire true art…yet.

Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova did however do just that on her tour of Australia and New Zealand during the 1920s. She inspired not music, sculpture or painting, but baking: Anna’s astounding arabesques became the muse for what is affectionately known Down Under as “the Pav.” She may not have been flattered by the thought of inspiring cake, but she has been honoured for generations with the fluffy meringue-based dessert that hides a gooey marshmallow belly protected by a crunchy outer shell, all contrasted with a vibrant topping of assorted fruit.

The first time I made a Pavlova was in Bangkok’s humidity working alongside the one-and-only Chef Jess Barnes who guided me with language as colourful as the Pavlova’s topping. The second time I made a Pavlova I had had a glass of wine and ended up chopping the end of my index finger. Regardless of the weather, the scolding or even the number of fingers you have, each Pavlova you prepare will express itself in its own unique way like an inspired piece of interpretive dance. The meringue may crack all over, it may brown, or it may even inexplicably miss a piece from where someone may have sneaked a taste before serving. No matter the circumstances or the final delivery, the Pav is such a delectable desert and so perfect for sharing with an audience that your performance will be undoubtedly received with thunderous applause.

So come and grand jeté with me into the kitchen as I share my recipe for an Australian dessert classic.

 

Photo 1 Pavlova Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

THE MERINGUE

• 500g Caster Sugar

• 250g Egg whites at room temperature (Note: If you get these ready a few days

before you make the Pavlova and store them in an airtight container in the fridge,

they actually work better being that little bit older. Then just take them out of the

fridge to come to room temperature on baking day.)

• 50g Caster Sugar

• 20g Corn Flour

• 15ml White Vinegar (Note: The addition of an acid contributes to the irresistible

marshmallow texture inside the crisp crust.)

• 4g Vanilla Essence

THE COMPOTE

• 200ml Water

• 50g Sugar

• 1 Vanilla Bean

• 8 Sprigs Lemon Thyme Tied Together

• 200g Strawberries

THE CREAM

• 200ml Cream

• 10g Icing Sugar

• 15ml Vanilla Essence

• Rose Water to Taste

THE TOPPING

• Go wild! Be as creative as you like and pick a selection of colourful seasonal fruits.

METHOD

Preheat your oven to 150 ̊C.

Note: For easy removal of your Pavlova once it is baked I like to prepare my baking tray slightly different. Prepare a flat tray by turning it upside down, slightly grease it and place a sheet of baking paper down. This way you can easily slide your Pavlova from the tray once baked rather then have it get stuck on the lips of the tray.

Photo 2 Pavlova Mixing

Before we start there is one simple rule in this Pavlova club that may not be broken! You MUST have extremely clean equipment! Whichever tools you choose to whip your meringue with (I recommend an electric mixer) they must be free of any grime, fat and water or your egg whites will fail to become beautiful and fluffy!
Photo 3 Pavlova Egg Whites

Place the egg whites into your sparkling clean bowl and begin whisking until they form soft peaks. Slowly start to add the caster sugar (and by slow I mean one heaped tablespoon at a time) until all 500g have been incorporated.
Photo 4 Pavlova  Adding Sugar

Once stiff peaks form, add the 50g caster sugar, corn flour, vinegar and vanilla essence. Mix for an additional 2 minutes to stabilize the mixture.

Photo 5 Pavlova  Mixture

There is no right or wrong way to shape your meringue. You can be as creative as you like. You can simply spoon the mixture onto the prepared baking tray and shape it or, to get a nice round shape, I like to oil a small hoop and pipe the mixture into the center. You can then lift the hoop leaving an almost perfectly round meringue.

Photo 6 Pavlova Piping Mixture

Photo 7 Pavlova Before Oven

Place your meringue in the oven and turn the temperature down to 120 ̊C and bake until it is just lifting off of the paper, roughly 25 minutes.

Photo 8 Pavlova Cooked

While the meringue is baking away, place all the ingredients for your compote into a small saucepan on your stovetop. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the fruit is tender.

Photo 9 Pavlova Compote

In a clean bowl whisk the cream, icing sugar, vanilla essence and rose water until soft peaks form. I love rose water but add as much as you like or leave it out entirely if you wish. I also like to pipe my cream on top of the Pavlova for a neat finish but this is entirely optional. Again, be as creative as you like! Pop your cream in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

 

Photo 10 Pavlova Cream Piping

Once your Pavlova is baked, turn off the oven and let it cool inside with the oven’s door slightly ajar. Once cooled, gently slide your Pavlova onto your serving plate.
Spread the compote over the top, pipe the cream on top of the compote and then arrange your colourful fruits to finish.

Photo 11 Pavlova Final

We may never exactly know what about Miss Pavlova’s dancing inspired this cloud-like dessert but I do hope your unique Pavlova gets you up and dancing in the most inspirational way!

pablova

 


IMG_5807Samantha Molnar

I was brought up in South Australia by a pair of quirky Hungarians; chocolate was never far from reach and neither were many other delicious temptations.
Despite growing up around some dubious eating habits, it was while studying Nutrition that I realised my true love was creating dishes. It was not so much the health benefits of modern nutrition that inspired me to start cooking but rather the shear blandness of studying that awakened my creative side. That’s when I began to experiment with cooking, a lot. When an opportunity arose to work in the kitchen of a popular Bangkok restaurant making desserts, I couldn’t resist. You could say my baptism of fire was in that tiny kitchen. Working long days, in 100% humidity, in a foreign country had it’s challenges, but I loved it and I knew it was where I belonged. Returning to Australia I studied patisserie in Melbourne, which led to landing work in a high profile dessert kitchen. I continue to learn, work and experiment with chocolate, desserts and raw foods, whether for family, friends, fun or for work. It’s my life. Not everything works out the way you plan it (no matter how good your recipe is) but what I’ve found in cooking is that it is not simply the creation but the journey that I love.
In sharing my journeys I hope I can share the same love too.


 

Would you like to contribute to Flavours? Fluster Magazine is always on the prowl for culturally sensitive, animal friendly, highly creative and somewhat humorous writing that covers a specific country’s culinary riches or other more random food-themed topics. If you don’t write but revel in all-things edible, we urge you to let us know what you would like to read and see on these pages.  Flavours is a collaborative effort and we are all quite good listeners. For info or suggestions write to mateo@flustermagazine.com

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