Forget dueling over Russell Crowe, Crowded House or Jane Campion, it’s the origins of the Pavlova that really piques the interest of Aussies and Kiwis feuding over stolen cultural treasure.” – Effigy, The Foods of the World Forums
The genesis of this sweet confection is the subject of passionate debate
Anna Pavlova was a ballet superstar in the early days of the 20th century. During a tour of Australia and New Zealand, a dessert was reportedly created to honor her. The nationality of the creator has been a source of disagreement between the two nations for almost a century. In 2008, Helen Leach’s research found the earliest known published recipe was in New Zealand. Later research found it was actually American by way of an old German dish.
Regardless of genesis, it’s a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, served with celebratory and holiday meals. It’s a meringue-based dessert, topped with whipped cream and fruit, usually berries, kiwi, peaches or a combination.
This recipe by Sandra Pollock was originally published in the Galveston County Master Gardener Association cookbook, “Spade to Spoon.”
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
3⁄4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar
Choice of fruit
Line a pan with parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray. Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Add sugar gradually, a tablespoon at a time until sugar is dissolved completely. Gently fold in sifted cornstarch and lemon juice. Mound in a circle on the pan.
Bake 1 hour at 250 F until Pavlova is dry to the touch. Finish cooling in the oven.
To serve, top with whipped cream and fruit, using one or a combination. Garnish with a mint spring.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.