Monday, July 12, 2010

Have the Cake: Pavlova

It's my first HtC Challenge, and I'm excited! Although it's pretty hot outside, I've had the AC running full tilt for a day now, so I'm hopeful that it won't be too humid in my apartment.

My original plan was to do something fun (maybe even...creative??) with the shape of the Pavlova. My list of brilliant ideas went something like this:

Maybe a ballet tutu?
Or a ballet slipper? (both inspired by the original inspiration for the dessert)
What about a simple square? (inspired by my lack of inspiration)

and to fill it with a strawberry/rhubarb mixture. The first two ideas were nixed because a skirt or a shoe filled with a red gooey mixture screams 'murder scene' to me, and that didn't seem appropriate. And a square is, well, just plain boring. Besides, I only just finished washing and freezing the strawberries and rhubarb. It seems like such a pity to use them up right away.

So I was at a bit of a standstill...until I made Rose Levy Beranbaum's Blueberry Lemon Tart yesterday. The Lemon Curd is simplicity itself, and I have these wonderful eggs (from a real farm) that have fabulously yellow need for dollops of food colouring!

The decision made, the die cast: the Pavlova (Pavlovas, actually) will be egg-shaped, with a lemon curd 'yolk' centre.

For all of you die-hard Pavlova-purists out there, I know a Pavlova should have fresh fruit on it. If it bothers you that much, copy the picture to your own computer and photoshop a strawberry or two onto it. I just wanted to have a little fun with it, you know?

One last challenge: now that school's out, I needed to find eaters for my dessert. Luckily, a former colleague agreed to 'take one for the team' (her words, not mine) and help out in that department. Thanks, Anny!

Therefore and heretofore, without further ado:

Mise en place for the Pavlova (recipe is found in the Have the Cake July Challenge)

Stiff. Very stiff.
Piping egg-shaped shapes

Mise en place for curd (recipe can be found in both Rose's Pie and Pastry Bible and in her new book, Heavenly Cakes)

Do you have any idea how hard it was not to slurp this stuff straight from the bowl?

The finished Pavlova egg

Recipe: Eggy Pavlova

For the Meringue (adapted from the Challenge recipe)

4 large egg whites
1 cup berry sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tbsp cornstarch


1) Preheat oven to 250 degrees Farenheit. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Trace egg shapes onto parchment paper (approximately 3"x2").

2) Beat egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Add sugar in small amounts, beating each addition until dissolved. Continue beating until egg whites hold very stiff peaks.

3) Sprinkle vinegar and cornstarch onto egg mixture and fold in.

4) Using spatula, fill decorating bag with mixture. Pipe shapes onto parchment paper. Build up the edges of the shape by piping overlaying 'rims' onto your shape. Finally, smooth the edges and tops a little with the back of a wet spoon. Space yours a little farther apart than I did...they will expand a titch in the oven.

5) Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn oven off and let meringue cool completely in oven.

For the Lemon Curd (adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible)

*Because meringue is quite sweet, I've reduced the sugar in this recipe, so be extra careful when heating the egg yolk mixture! I've also eliminated the lemon zest. Normally, I adore lemon zest, but egg yolks (or representations thereof) shouldn't have little strings in them.


4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch salt


1) In heavy saucepan, whisk yolks, sugar, and butter until well blended. Whisk in lemon juice and salt.

2) Cook over medium-low heat until thickened. Do NOT allow it to come to a boil or you'll have scrambled lemony eggs on your hands

3) Optional: strain the mixture to remove any lumpy bits.

4) Cool before using.

To assemble
Spoon dollops of lemon curd into indentations of egg-shaped meringue bases. Garnish, if desired, with sliced strawberries, fresh whole blueberries, or sprigs of mint. Enjoy!

Notes for next time:
Allow the curd to cool completely before assembly.
Shape the meringue more precisely.
It really could use a fresh strawberry or two, if only for the pop of red. Oh, and the taste.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I've got two of MS's cookbooks; this one, and the cupcake one. For someone who finds the whole MSEmpire thing a bit disconcerting, I have to say, this lady knows her cookies. At least, her staff do. I've made several recipes from both books, and they've all been deeee-licious!

This time around, I just wanted to make a simple but tasty cookie. The plan was to take them to school for the staff, but I ended up devouring most of them myself. The texture was perfect! I've had Snickerdoodles before that tasted a bit bitter, but not these ones!

Having an oven that actually works and doesn't leak most of the heat it produces is suddenly transforming me into a marvelous baker! Plus, the light inside works, so I can check on things without opening the door. It's marvelous!

Would you believe it? I didn't get any pictures of the finished product. So here's another shot of the 'Doodles mid-sugaring:

Thursday, July 1, 2010


(This picture is from the fabulous Good Mood Food Blog. Just looking at the photographs is a natural mood booster, never mind actually following the recipes and eating the results!)

I know, 'revivication' is not a word. But I teach German. And in German it's ok to create new words by combining shorter ones. That's how you get "Oberdonaudampfschifffahrtgesellschaft". That's 6 in 1, right there.

I've joined an online baking group. You can see the group blog, Have the Cake, here. Every month, a recipe or challenge is posted, and the members have one month to put their own spin on it, blog about it, and enjoy every one else's posts.
This month's challenge is Pavlova. I did some quick internet research, and learned that...

  • originally, there were many different desserts named Pavlova and/or created in the great Russian ballerina's honor. (Check her out on Youtube. She's stunning.)
  • New Zealand and Australia like to squabble about the exact origin of the dessert. Since some definitions say that it should include kiwi in the fruit topping, it seems that NZ might be gaining the upper hand.
  • It turns out that the base is NOT a straight meringue; there's cornstarch in there, which changes the texture.

I've got some ideas percolated in my little brain...nothing too outrageously creative, but I'm excited to try it out.