Recipe, photography and styling by Tanya Zouev.
This weekend is Australia Day long-weekend. It’s been a weekend of celebrating with the quintessential Aussie barbie (BBQ), wearing the Australian flag printed on one’s t-shirt or bikini, screaming out “Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi” (unfortunately) and eating lamingtons (very fortunately). For some however it’s eating pavlova, and I’ve seen a fair few of them proudly shown off on Facebook and the usual social media sites this weekend.
Now I know there’s some debate (actually, a lot of debate) around the exact origin of the pav, I’ve even discussed this in a recent post. Yes I know it hails originally from New Zealand but for many it is still a major part of Australia Day celebrations. Since we don’t actually have very many dishes we can call upon as being authentically Australian cuisine, it’s understandable why.
During the few days leading up to Australia Day I was having some thoughts as to what makes up authentic Australian food, and there actually isn’t much. We have beautiful indigenous Australian bush foods but they’re really more ingredients rather than actual dishes. Just about everything other than “bush tucker” as it’s colloquially known, including a large percentage of our population is from someplace else. This I very much believe to be one of the many things which makes Australia so incredible. Our multiculturalism, and in turn our food.
For example, may parents were migrants who came to this country in the late 1950’s (I am a first generation Australian). I grew up eating a lot of Eastern European and Chinese food as well as many Anglo-Saxon favourites. I loved piroshki as much as a finger bun (for overseas readers this is a soft wheat flour bun with icing on it), yum cha as much as a meat pie with sauce. My Polish-Russian father enjoyed Vegemite sandwiches, my Chinese-born Russian mother loved (and still loves) a passionfruit and cream-filled sponge.
So in honour of Australia Day and multiculturism I created this Pavlova. I hope you enjoy her. She’s an adaptation of an Aussie/Kiwi classic merged with European flavours, and she’s a bit like this country: big, beautiful, diverse in flavour, and she speaks with a slight accent. That’s what makes her so special.
Prep time 1 hour, cooking time approximately 2 hours.
For the meringue
8 egg whites
2 cups granulated raw sugar
2 tablespoons dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
For the topping
2 cups thickened (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons strong espresso coffee
a 680 gram (24 ounce) jar of morello cherries
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup dark chocolate curls *
½ cup dark chocolate shavings **
* To make chocolate curls run a potato peeler down the edge of a block of chocolate. ** To make chocolate shavings use an ordinary fine grater or a Micro-Plane.
1. Preheat oven to 220ºC (approx 420˚F). Place a sheet of baking paper on two large baking tray and draw 20cm (8″) rounds.
2. Separate your eggs making utmost care not to contaminate the egg whites with any egg yolk. Any fat in the egg whites will prevent them from beating properly and will weigh them down.
3. Beat your egg whites until they are stiff and add your sugar slowly along with the vanilla essence, one tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff peaks form. Turn your bowl upside down to make sure the whites are stiff enough. If not, beat another minute or so then check again.
4. Sift the cocoa powder into the raw meringue and fold through carefully ensuring you leave streaks of cocoa rather than fully incorporating it.
5. Shape the meringue into the two rounds on the baking paper/trays. Place meringues into oven and immediately turn temperature down to 120 degrees celcius. Bake for 90 minutes then turn off oven, do not remove meringues until oven is cool.
1. Drain the morello cherries into a colander with a bowl underneath it to catch the syrup. Give the cherries a shake to make sure the syrup drains out of them. You will want the cherries quite dry so give them a bit of time to drain.
2. Pour the cherry syrup into a saucepan and over medium heat reduce it down to a honey-like consistency (about 5-10 minutes). If you over-reduce you can add a little bit of water and whisk through to make it more liquid again. Set aside.
3. Beat the cream with the coffee until stiff peaks form. With a silicone spatula spread half of the cream over the bottom meringue, place cherries on the cream along with half of the chopped walnuts. Sprinkle half of the chocolate shavings over the meringue.
4. Place the top meringue layer over the bottom. Spread the remaining cream over it along with the cherries, nuts and chocolate shavings. Top with the chocolate curls. Drizzle the cherry syrup over the entire pavlova.
Photography & styling notes:
I wanted this grand lady to shine so I chose to have a fairly simple background. I used a vintage milk glass cake stand purchased at the Salvo’s, and the vintage doily and the antique silverware jug in the background which were purchased for a few dollars at Vinnie’s. The surface is a rescued old weathered timber coffee table-top pulled out of a council hard rubbish clean-up. The only light used in this image is window light.