Israelis say ‘Pavlova’ with stress on the second syllable (unlike Russians for whom the first syllable is important). This cake does not belong to the Russian cooking tradition. It was invented in New Zealand or Australia in 1926 to celebrate Anna Pavlova’s Australian tour. Meringue with whipped cream should look exactly like the white skirt of a classical ballet dancer. Strawberries with cream make a real Russian dish, although real Russian ballet dancers are unlikely to eat this food.
Ingredients for the Cake
For the meringues
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
½ tbsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
For the filling
1 cup cream
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Strawberries (and/or other berries and fruit)
Preheat the oven to 140. Lay a piece of baking paper (slightly oiled) on a baking tray, put a mid-sized plate on top (bottom up) and circle the plate with a fork to draw a border. Put egg whites into a clean dish and whisk them with a hand mixer. Whisk on medium speed. When egg whites stand in peaks (that is, when you can see white peaks, small but stiff, on the hand mixer and on the surface of the whisked mixture) add sugar mixed with cornflour, still whisking. Increase the speed of the hand whisker until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Add the vinegar and vanilla and whisk for 1-2 seconds. Vanilla can be very different: vanilla sugar, vanilla extract, or vanilla pods. Spread the whisked mixture (smooth and lush) onto the prepared baking tray. Try and make waves and nests on the edges. Leave a dimple for the cream in the centre. Put it into the oven for about an hour. If the meringue gets too golden while baking, reduce the heat. Leave the meringue in the oven until cold (for an hour), let the oven door open.
Move it carefully onto a flat plate. Pavlova’s meringue is quite specific, its surface is delicate and with cracks, it is soft (soufflé) inside.
Whisk double cream with the sugar and vanilla. Spoon the mixture into the dimple in the meringue’s centre. Place the berries and fruit on top, you may wish to add the cooked and cold syrup made of the same berries.