Pav. Although it sounds like a Russian psychology experiment it is actually:

  • 100% Antipodean (we’ll let the Aussies share the glory here)
  • and has nothing to do with dogs.

It’s awesome. Believe me, once you’ve had a good pav, you’ll salivate at the thought.

Betty decorating the pav.

Pavlova is perhaps the most traditional of Kiwi foods. It’s the kind of thing that every Kiwi who claims to know there way around the kitchen knows how to make. And moreover, has their own secret techniques for. As such there are many tricks that you hear (some of which contradictory). But in any case here are some secrets to Pav-making. Some I can vouch for and others I do out of habit but to be honest, can’t be completely sure if they make much of a difference.

Don’t use a plastic bowl

I have no idea where this came from or how it would make a difference. I think this one is bunk. I’ve made perfect pavs from a plastic bowl before. Verdict: False.

Use an absolutely clean bowl and avoid getting any yoke mixed in

The theory goes that the grease from a not clean bowl or the fat contained in even a small amount of yoke is enough to stop the whites from coming to full whipped-ness, so that you end up with a flat, limp pav. Verdict: True.

Use rather a bit older eggs rather than completely fresh

No idea if there’s anything to this. Should probably do a scientific test one day (and that would be the old nerd part of me coming to the fore) …

Leave it in the oven overnight

This I can kinda believe. As the sudden heat change of oven to room temp can easily crack the crisp shell (I’ve seen that happen in front of my eyes before). And also the pav probably benefits from having some time to dry out. Verdict: Probably true

Don’t open the door while it’s cooking

This one I can believe too. See above. Verdict: True

Ready for the oven


Serves about 6 people (scales pretty easily just by doubling or tripling the ingredients):

  • 4 egg-whites
  • 2 1/2 dl sugar
  • 1t white wine vinegar
  • 2t cornflour
  • 1t vanilla sugar

You can top the pav with whatever you like. I would stay away from anything excessively sweet as the pav is pretty sweet itself. Which is why I suppose all the traditional toppings are quite tart. The most traditional of which being sliced Kiwifruit. Though passionfruit pulp is also excellent and up in Scandy, fresh berries, I’m sure would also be awesome. And whipping cream is obviously essential.

  • 250ml whipping cream
  • Fruit of your choice to top. Kiwifruit or passionfruit are great.
  1. Preheat your oven to 100C.
  2. Measure out the sugar and wash a large bowl in hot water and dishwashing liquid.
  3. To be safe, it’s better to split the eggs one-by-one into two bowls. After every successful split (i.e. no yoke in the white), tipping the white into your mixing bowl. That way, if you happen to get a bit of yoke from one split, you only lose one egg not 4.
  4. Place a teatowel under your mixing bowl to help keep it in place (otherwise it’ll likely start to turn once the mixture gets thicker and you’ll have both hands full, one with beater and one reigning in sugar, so a little on the tricky side). Beat the eggs to a stiff foam i.e. until they hold there shape and cannot get any stiffer.
  5. Little by little add the sugar whilst whipping continuously – a teaspoon at a time at the very beginning and then in gradually braver quantities.
  6. When all the sugar is added and the mixture is stiff and shiny, add the vinegar, vanilla-sugar and cornflour (through a sieve).
  7. Form it into whatever shape you like. I normally just make a big, high cake shape (emphasis on tall) but you can also make a cup-shape if you plan to load the cake up with fruit.
  8. Place the pavlova in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes – the pav should be ready when the outside is crisp and meringue-y and the centre, soft and marshmellowy but not leaking any fluid.
  9. Turn the oven off and leave the pav in there overnight to gradually cool down and dry out. Once that is done the pav should keep for at least a couple of days (you needn’t store it in the fresh, just in some cool spot in the kitchen).
  10. A few hours before you’re ready to serve, whip the cream until fairly stiff – you don’t want butter, but neither do you want the cream to run off the pav when you put the fruit on top of it.

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