Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas to all and to all a happy pavlova

It's most certainly that wonderful time of the year: Christmas is almost here and even closer for the lucky ones who don't have to be at work these next two days.

Christmas in Sydney is synonymous with summer, cold prawns, mango and pavlova for me, and I'm planning to have all this on the lunch table in two days' time for Christmas.

Pavlova, made with ingredients courtesy of Aldi Australia
I've had all sorts of pavlovas: completely store bought and dressed; store-bought bases and self-dressed; ones made from those little plastic egg things; and this year, one made from scratch by yours truly.

Aldi ingredients (eggs excluded) mise en place
Earlier this month I was sent a package of Christmas goodies from Aldi Australia supermarkets, with thanks to PPR.

Aside from a huge range of Aldi's Christmas products like fruit cake, panettone, fruit mince pies and German specialties like marzipan stollen, glazed lebkuchen (so addictive) and pfeffernüsse, I also received most of the ingredients to make a pavlova - that iconic Australasian fluffy meringue cake, topped with cream and fresh fruit.

Whipped meringue
Having had some disastrous experiences previously with various types of meringues, there was trepidation and fairly exact measuring of caster sugar, corn flour and white vinegar into the stiffly beaten egg whites.

In the end, I think I beat the egg whites on higher speed and for longer than the Aldi recipe suggested, but I felt safer for it.

Meringue tower
The very stiff, glossy peaks meant that I could pile the meringue high without it foaming and collapsing on me - and for me, that's an achievement.

Shaped meringue in oven
In any case it needed to be shaped as a round cake to fit into a new cake carrier I have, and so it was flattened and gingerly rounded before entering a low heat oven for an hour and a half.

I seem to have issues following recipes but despite a slight hiccup in the cooking timing, upon removing the meringue after overnight cooling in the turned-off oven, it looked like a proper pavlova with a crisp outer shell, and soft, marshmallow-y insides.

Finished pavlova
However, it would need to be decorated and served up at a gathering before I could really know what the insides would be like - much more nerve-racking than normal cakes where you can just stick in a skewer.

I was supplied with thickened cream for whipping, and punnets of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and white peaches for decorating my pavlova - that skill of which needs a little work yet.

And to the all-important fluffy centre and taste test?

Pavlova innards (all that was left at the picnic!)
Success. It was perfectly soft and fluffy within, and even a little densely so which is how I like my pav. There was a decent thickness to the crisp outside shell, which had gained just a little colour in the oven.

The soft meringue itself was sweet, but not overly so while some commented that there was no minerally flavour that sometimes comes from the eggs.

In all, a win - a great, simple recipe that with a bit of refining on my behalf will be perfect for Christmas Day.

I'd like to wish everyone a very happy, merry and stress-free Christmas - I hope it's filled with great food and booze, presents, laughter and the love of family, friends and the jolly man in red.

Food, booze and shoes received pavlova ingredients and Christmas products from Aldi Australia, with thanks to PPR.


Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

such a fitting dessert for christmas in summer - love that innard shot. looks awesome. Merry Christmas, fellow Tina! Eat drink and be merry x

chocolatesuze said...

that looks like one delish pav! merry christmas!

Joanne T Ferguson said...

G'day! One word? YUM!
Wish could come through the screen and try some...great photo!
Cheers! Joanne

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It was pavlova time here too today and it all disappeared but I think everyone loves pavlova! Merry Christmas Tina.

Chris @ MAB vs Food said...

Merry Xmas Tina! Nothing beats a pav on Xmas day!

Tina said...

Hi Tina - It's was very exciting to cut it open and see the inside :) Hope you had a great day too.

Hi Suze - It wasn't too bad, if I might say so myself :)

Hi Joanne - It was easier to make than I expected :)

Hi Lorraine - Agreed. The pav was the first dessert on the table to finish :D

Hi Chris - Well, the weather could have been better but can't complain too much :)

Alana said...

Your pav looks so deliciously spongey and all round excellent. Happy belted Christmas + new year :)

Tina said...

Thanks Alana - here's to a fab 2014 all round!

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