A pavlova is a meringue based dessert that is refreshing and delightfully moreish. The outer crust has the texture of a thin wafer, and the inside is similar to marshmallow. It’s topped with whipping cream and usually fresh fruit and berries. It was named “Pavlova” after a Russian ballerina because it is “light as a ballerina.” There is a lot of speculation about where it originated, how, and by whom. But today, there are many recipe versions on the internet – with varied ingredients and techniques. This is a family recipe that was passed down to me by my mom, who got the recipe from her friend from New Zealand (thank you, Odette!)
The key to the success of this delicious recipe is in the technique. That being said, I am just going to have a moment of silence for all of my failed Pavlova attempts that never made it past the kitchen.
Even today when I am making a pav for a special event, I make a second batch while the first one is baking as a backup. So if you decide to try this out, be patient with the process.
Allergen warning: This recipe is not strictly gluten free, as it contains a small amount of malt vinegar. But in the entirety of this recipe, there is only a trace amount of gluten. I have experimented with different types of vinegar that are gluten free and get really delicious results. However, it very slightly changes the texture of the crust to be a bit more grainy.
The ingredients for the Pav:
- 3 egg whites
- 1 ¼ cups of sugar
- 3 tablespoons of cold water
- Pinch of salt
- 3 teaspoons of cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon malt vinegar
For the topping:
- Fresh whipping cream
- Fresh fruit (berries are most popular, but can be expensive. So, I recommend using strawberries that are in season, and slicing them thinly)
- The possibilities are endless
ze pav recipe
In the end you should have a white meringue that holds its shape.
6. Scoop the meringue onto the parchment paper (NEVER ADD OIL) on a baking tray. Because the meringue will hold its shape, you can use a spoon or rubber spatula to create the desired shape. Traditionally, you shape it in a circle, keeping its height so it’s more like a cake rather than a cookie. Then, you create a dip in the center where you will eventually fill with your cream and toppings.
7. Put the pav in the oven and watch it bake! I recommend putting it on the shelf so that you can see it through the oven window with the light on. This way you can monitor its cooking without opening the oven (opening the oven during the baking process can influence the result).
8. The pav will be in the oven for about one hour. You will know it’s done when the crust starts to crack, and the inside isn’t too soggy or wet. Usually, you don’t want it to get brown, but sometimes mine come out a little darker.
9. When you pull it out of the oven, let it sit on the side to cool.
If you end up with leftovers, it is best to put it in the refrigerator, especially because of the cream. However, it MUST be placed in an airtight container, otherwise the moisture from the refrigerator will make the pav crust become soggy and like a sponge.
Once you have the basic meringue down, the opportunities are truly endless! You can switch out the vanilla extract for any kind of extract. In the past, I have done rose, guava, and coconut. If I want a stronger flavor, I will put in one teaspoon of extract instead of just ½. Also, instead of just one large cake, you can make mini pavs. You can use a spoon and scoop like the larger version, but I also like to use piping bags for more control and a finished look.
If your pav comes out soggy, or oozes sugar juice, or collapses and becomes a sad cookie, do not fear! Even though I have had many failed attempts, they don’t go to waste. The flavor doesn’t really change despite the appearance so you can still enjoy your varied pav.
This is very much a parable to shepherding life. In the beginning I had the expectation that if I simply followed the recipe (fish, teach, repeat), I would have a wonderful, sweet and fruitful ministry! But, just like making a pavlova, I have learned that shepherding requires real training and practice. Sometimes I thought things were going very well, and sheep were growing. But when the moment came, they collapsed like a broken cookie. Or other times, I thought I was doing well, only to find that inside I was completely undercooked.
But even though maybe I or sheep don’t turn out as expected, God never lets any of the effort go to waste. Maybe we can’t revive a failed pav, but God can revive, restore, and resurrect us completely. Then, through each failure, we grow, learn, and become refined until eventually we are experts in the word of God, shepherding, and bakin’ a pav! Then, we will enjoy an abundant feast and sweet dessert with our Chief Baker in the kingdom of heaven.
Have hope in the process & blessed baking!
YumYumYum! I could not help but notice that the date on one of those pictures was in April, around Easter, and it reminded me that this year’s Easter is coming up, which means there will probably be a potluck… which means we’ll need a pavlova, right?! **wink, wink** By the way, the fluffy-looking white pavlovas remind me of resurrection, heaven, bright light, that sort of thing 🙂 And the sad brown pavlova looks like a tomb 🙁 I’ll have to try out this recipe until I get fluffy white resurrection pavlovas!
Haha! I love that title: resurrection pavlovas! If we have a potluck I will seriously consider bringing some. Let me know how it goes when you try them! 🙂
Nice, cant wait until it is your turn Shep. Johnny to cook this up for the veteranos on Tuesday. 😊
I hope that that your hope for pavlova this Easter comes true! It would be exciting to find that there is a potluck and pavlova this Easter at church.
Resurrection pavlovas!!!! What a name hahahaha xD
moment of silence 🤣🤣 I mean… 😶
Silence is good after a failed attempt to reflect and learn from the mistake.
Wow!!! I actually remember eating those. But I don’t remember how they tasted. I just remember the colorful Russian desert puffs on Fourth of July. They do look like an Easter treat though. Maybe we will see a resurrection of the Pav this year.
The Aussies and Kiwis would be in hot debate about saying these are “Russian”! Nevertheless, if there is a potluck this Easter, then maybe these will resurrect after all!
I hope we see some this year! I’ll think about the spiritual meaning as I eat one. Then not only my tastebuds will be happy but also my soul because of Jesus’ resurrection power.
As I read this post I was so intrigued! Then at the end, nearly brought to tears as I was reminded of God’s goodness, power, mercy and wisdom. He makes all things beautiful; even our failures are not actually failures, but opportunities to learn from the Chief Baker.
This is a hopeful perspective!
So encouraging indeed!
I love that part you mentioned about collapsing and becoming a sad cookie. I have definitely felt that way before! So I guess even if we get to sad cookie level, do not fear – it’s great to think how God can use us and do something great with our lives, even resurrect it altogether 🙂
It’s helpful how you broke things down in the recipe – it really looks doable despite the apparently high chance of failure LOL. Have hope in the process…that’s very encouraging both spiritually and in baking.
Now about actually trying this out…I’d have to look into getting a stand mixer. Can it be done by hand, do you think? I did that before and the result was…um. Gross. To say the least xD (I was trying to make cauliflower alfredo pasta. Key word: “TRYING”)
I saw the recipe but unfortunately I have to two left hands, so it will be sad cookies all the way. But sometimes the best deserts are the ones that failed, lol, at least to me. And cauliflower alfredo past sounds good, I volunteer to be the official taster. I know it will be a sacrifice but someone has to do it. 😁
Sad cookies all the way! New motto 🙌 hahahaha you may regret your decision to volunteer, but you have now officially been selected as the royal taste tester of Sabaaa’s world-famous, one-of-a-kind cauliflower Alfredo pasta! Coming soon to a potluck near you. You have been warned!! 😀
Lol, was the cauliflower alfredo pasta still eaten and enjoyed?
Well…I vaguely remember that I kinda enjoyed it. My parents, not so much. Wait on second thought, I think it went straight in the trash actually ahahaha
noooooooo, now it is my turn to say it. lol
Lol, there is still hope for growth. Have you tried making it again?
Lol no, that failure was enough to make me abandon cauliflower for life! Although if I did try, I would make sure to actually have a mixer or blender handy haha
🤣 haha , there is hope that it could come out delicious next time by Jesus’ grace.
“God can use us and do something great with our lives, even resurrect it altogether” Amen !
This looks and sounds good! The Resurrection Pavs in the first picture even came with lights ! (Like the angels at the tomb whose clothes gleamed like lightning)
Sure does, and I can not wait until we have some more of these special Pavs, very very soon. Hint hint.
Yeah the first pic looks fancy and expensive, like made from a professional chef.
I miss eating these so much! It is so light and fluffy. Wow and there is even spiritual meaning behind it, a whole parable! 🤩. I am so encouraged through it, praise God who revives and resurrects us to keep going, have strength and a real living hope.
A modern day parable indeed! Praise God for such insight through pavlovs!
This looks delicious 😋 . Thanks for the recipe 😃 . Perhaps I could try to make it for my family for a special event this year. I like how you said that if it does not come out as expected, it still can be eaten. So even if it it does not come out beautiful like the picture, then I can still enjoy it. I also like what you said about Jesus using our failures to help us learn and grow. I have failed many times: spiritually, academically, etc but I’ve learned from those mistakes. There have also been times when God healed my perspective about certain matters through His Word, which helped me to respond appropriately to his will for my life. There is hope for growth even when we fail. This is possible because of God’s Grace through Jesus Christ. He is so wonderful!
Amen, and even if you have some sad cookies, please bring then over, we will enjoy it together sister.
Wow wow, we are forgetting the most important thing, how many calories do these bad boys have? Just kidding. Thank you for sharing and comparing this to shepherding life. It is really true that sometimes things will not go well, but it does not mean that one should give up. Instead I can see that one must go back to the kitchen, aka bible study notes, and prayer, whip it up into a fluffy delicious desert filled with manna, and then go out again. Thank you for posting this spiritual desert.
Ahhhhh I love when you make these!!! So delicious! And I love the spiritual message too. I remember when I started living as a shepherd, I was so scared of making mistakes. I asked God’s servant “What if I make a mistake?!?” And he said, “Make mistakes, even boldly!” That was so encouraging, because it helped me to understand that the work of God is really a work of God. And God is sovereign even over my mistakes. Cool that we can learn about God’s work through delicious deserts. Maybe today, if Jesus were here, he would give the Parable of the Pavlova!