KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: The Pavlova
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
A New Kind of Barfly
Toasts, Tastes & Tapas
Engaging Food: Do you remember?
Fortune Cookies and Starving Cyborgs: Sweetness on...
Brenda's French Soul Food
Smoothie A Go Go
Delicious Art at STUDIO Gallery
Green Garlic: A Sign of Spring
World Snack Series: Books for Young Palates
Ma Petite Chou: For the Love of Cabbage
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
Friday, March 21, 2008
The Pavlova

Oh, it's Spring. What joy.

In honor of this turning of the seasons, I bring you a light little piece of fluff-- the Pavlova.

When I was cooking at a little restaurant in the Mission called the Moa Room, my favorite Kiwi and boss, Chef Jan Gardner often let me run off and do my own thing with our desserts, which was rather brave of her. But not so when she felt the call to make her Pavlova-- the most famous dessert to ever come out of New Zealand. I would stand back to watch her work, asking her to say things like "milk" and "bottle" so that I might be better able to imitate her accent as well as her dessert-making technique. She was a very patient woman who only occasionally would ask a co-worker if he or she wouldn't mind punching me in the neck.

This pleasant breath of fresh air is rarely seen on San Francisco dessert menus, which I think is a pity. It is as light and airy as the dancing of its namesake, the most famous of all ballerinas, Anna Pavlova.

There is some argument as to the origin of this dessert. Australians claim it was birthed by Herbert Sachse of the Hotel Esplanade, Perth, Australia, citing in 1935 that the dish was "as light as Pavlova." She stayed at the hotel while on tour in 1929. It just took him six years to come up with something clever to say about it.

New Zealand has an earlier, similar claim coming out of Wellington in 1926, when a hotel chef created a dish inspired by the shape of the touring dancer's white tutu with green cabbage roses and frothy netting. I'm no social archaeologist, but I'll just bet the farm he was gay.

Well, I love Australians, but I am siding with my friends from New Zealand on this one.


Jan Gardner shied away from kiwifruit, most likely because they are not echt New Zealand. To her, a kiwi is the smaller, non-extinct cousin of the moa. The Chinese Gooseberry arrived in the land of the dead moa from, unsurprisingly, China in 1904. The name "kiwifruit" was originally a marketing ploy. One that has worked all too well. Though this meringue happily supports a wide variety of fruit, I have used the kiwi because the original dish, as far as I can tell, contained them. Remember those green cabbage roses.

This is not Jan's recipe. I never got it. I could just punch myself in the neck for not asking for
it. The recipe listed below is a culling of several.

For a great run down on how to approach a meringue, read Shuna's take on the Pavlova.


For the Pavlova:

4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup of superfine sugar (you can make this out of table sugar by whizzing it in your Cuisinart.)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Tradition does not call for this, I just like it in my meringue.

For the Topping:

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup buttermilk. Again, this is not traditional. I just prefer a bit of tang to compliment the
├╝ber-sweetness of the meringue.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh fruit. Tart is good. Things like kiwifruit, strawberries, raspberries, beri beri. I don't care.
Passion fruit is really amazing with it, too.


1. Pre-heat oven to 300 F.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Create and cut out a separate circle of parchment paper about 7 inches in diameter. Cut out a matching circle of cardboard. Attach the parchment circle to cardboard with a smear of corn syrup or whatever you've got handy to adhere. I'll bet even Elmer's glue would work, though I would not recommend it. (Note: this cut out circle business isn't absolutely necessary, but I find it helps me get a cleaner edge on the meringue.)

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg whites at slow speed (Thanks for the tip, Shuna), gradually increasing the speed as the volume of the whites increase. When the whites begin to hold a soft peak, add the sugar a little at a time to dissolve. Increase the speed and whip until the mixture is silken and holds stiff peaks.

4. Having made a slurry of your vinegar and cornstarch, stir to discourage any lumps. Sprinkle the slurry over the meringue and fold in.

5. Gently heap meringue onto your parchment disk, making certain to leave a shallow bowl in the center for eventual cream-and fruit-filling. Smooth the edges of the meringue for a clean look or make any sort of design you wish. Please email me if you've come up with anything interesting or vaguely obscene.

6. Place your meringue-topped cardboard parchment onto the lined baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 15 minutes, turn off the heat and walk away. Baking should take about one hour, but it is best to peek in every once in a while to see how your creation is doing. The Pavlova should not brown, but take on a slight cream color. Leaving it in the oven to dry out a bit is a good thing.

The now-baked Pavlova will keep for up to a week when stored in non-humid conditions in an air-tight container.

7. For the topping, whip cream and buttermilk until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and vanilla, then whip a little more. You make chose to remove half the cream at this stage for spreading, whipping up the remainder for piping those tutu-like frills around the edge that I somehow failed to achieve.

8. Spread the whipped cream over the meringue. Top with the fruit of your choice, and serve immediately in the fifth position, thereby impressing your friends and family with your limberness of both lower body and culinary expertise.

Eat immediately.

Serves 6

Labels: , , , ,



Anonymous Kat@Meadowood.com said...

I was just in New Zealand where I had my first Pavlova experience. I don't care if it was AUS or NZ that came up with it first, the light meringue and perfectly balanced sweetness won this American over right away. I doubt I'll ever go through all the steps to make it at home, but would love to find a place that serves it in the Bay Area.

3/23/2008 9:51 PM

Blogger shuna fish lydon said...


I would have to disagree with you that superfu=ine sugar can be made by pouring granulated sugar in a food processor, or even a mortar & pestle. (Any) meringue can indeed be made with granulated sugar although it's true that superfine (also known as Baker's or bartender's sugar) works best.

Also it's important to note that egg whites should start as room temperature and the middle of a true Pavlova is soft.

3/24/2008 5:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is on the menu, of course, at the New Zealander in Alameda....the passion fruit sauce/syrup that finishes it off may not be traditional, but is quite good.

3/25/2008 1:13 PM

Blogger Michael Procopio said...

Kat-- Please read Anonymous's suggestion of the New Zealander in Alameda. Of course, I'd love to go to NZ like you did but, for now, Alameda will have to do.

Shuna-- Oh, you're so technical! I think it works just fine if one is in a pinch. If one is prepared, as I'm sure you are at all times, then yes, of course, superfine is superfine.

And, yes, I should have mentioned the marshmallowy centre of the true Pavlova I made.

Anonymous-- Thanks for the head's up on where to get a Pav. It is much appreciated...

3/29/2008 2:01 PM


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
Tasty Food Sites
Chowhound SF
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
Leite's Culinaria
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Eater SF
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
The Amateur Gourmet
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
Food Books
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
by Lisa Yockelson
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
by Thomas Keller
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.