Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Doin' the Donna Hay - Whip It Good

I couldn't resist attempting a Donna Hay pav from scratch after seeing the Masterchef contestants give it a go. Considering many of them failed, I figured it might be within my cooking prowess to achieve - plus, I've never ever cooked a pav before, not even from one of those Pavolova Eggs.

A word of warning - whip it, whip it good. I thought my peaks were stiff enough, carefully added in the caster sugar, and the whole thing just turned into a glossy goo. Into the bin. A few naughty words pass my lips. Take #2 - egg whites beaten to within an inch of their lives. Caster sugar added gradually. Arm holding electric beater about to fall off (Mum's promised to buy me one of those nifty Kitchenaid mixmasters for my birthday. I'll hold her to that). Finally, it looks perfect. Whacked it in the oven for an hpour and twenty, then got slightly confused by the "let cool in oven" instruction. Surely it will overcook? I should've known better then to distrust Donna hay. I left the oven door open a bit, and while it was orginally high and hollow-sounding on the outside, half the top collapses due to my eagerness. Simply have to be arty with the whipped cream and strawberries to cover it up. Mmmm.

Donna Hay Pavlova

150ml eggwhite (approximately 4 eggs)

1 cup (220g) caster (superfine) sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch), sifted
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 cup (250ml) single (pouring) cream
½ cup passionfruit pulp (approximately 4 passionfruit)
250g strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Place the eggwhite in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until stiff 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 an 18cm round on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Reduce oven to 120°C (250°F) and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Spread over the pavlova, top with passionfruit and strawberries and serve immediately. Serves 8–10.

* You’ll know when the meringue is stiff and glossy because the mixture will have tripled in volume and stands up when the beaters are lifted.

* The low heat puffs up the meringue while the long cooking time dries it out to give you a lovely crisp shell.

Happy to say, aside from the small collapse, ours turned out pretty much perfectly. Light and fluffy and sweet on the inside, cruncy on the outside. I'd recommend giving it a go - if I can do it, truly anyone can!
And all those egg yolks? Turn them into a delicious custard which makes an easy dessert served warm with fruit.

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