The Great Aussie Pav

Well it’s that time of year… public holiday time! Don’t you just love the start of the year, we have only just come back from a glorious Christmas/New Year break and they are already giving us more time off work. Nice.

So the first of the public holidays is of course, Australia Day. A day rich in history and pride, yeah, yeah, all that, but really its about the Australia Day party, drinking too much beer, the Hottest 100, dressing in blue and red or green and gold, it’s about Sam Kekovich lamb propaganda, BBQs, backyard slip and slides, Aussie trivia and getting sunburnt. It’s a day we celebrate this great nation, a day we let our hair down and show the world just how uncouth, I mean fun loving, we really are.

Now while Australia is the greatest country on earth and we have produced lots of great things, Hugh Jackman, the wine cask and the ute. There are a few things that are still a bone of contention with our neighbours across the ditch. Who coined the term ‘ugg’ boot, who can claim Crowded House and who invented the Pavlova. I will have to say, no idea, New Zealand, and… New Zealand. While I think of myself as a true blue aussie, born and raised here, my parents were both born in New Zealand and I have to say, the Kiwi’s have it on the pavlova front, oh and the Crowded House thing, well, that’s a no brainer. As for the uggs, well I’m not sure and maybe we should just let the Kiwi’s have that one.

So pavlova is a meringue dessert, crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallowy on the inside. The dessert was created and named by a hotel chef in Wellington after a Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, during her visit to New Zealand in 1926. Now Australia likes to think it was all them, apparently Bert Sachse claimed he created the dish in a Perth hotel in 1935, 9 years after. It was later claimed by a relative that Sachse may have accidentally dated the recipe incorrectly. Hmm, I’m not convinced and it has been said that it is unlikely for a definitive answer to ever be found. So while New Zealand may be the humble pavlovas origin, this dessert is still ‘Aussie as’.

Serves 8

4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
2 tbs cornflour
2 tsp white vinegar
1 cup pouring cream
1 jar wild hibiscus flowers in syrup
2 tbs wild bush honey

Preheat oven at 150°C (300°F). Place egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, whisking well, until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk until just combined.

Shape the mixture into a 18cm round on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. Reduce oven to 120°C (250°F) and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the pav to cool completely, in the oven.

Drain the hibiscus, reserving the syrup. Place in a saucepan and reduce to half, set aside to cool.

Whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Spread cream over the pavlova, top with wild hibiscus flowers and drizzle with hibiscus syrup and wild honey. Serve immediately.

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