Author Notes: Most of the stories around Pavlova dessert debate about its origin, but nobody actually talks about the beautiful ballerina, who inspired millions of people around the world and secretly helped Russian children during and after the Russian revolution. Anna Pavlova was an unearthly, young lady, constantly looking for an opportunity to make a difference in life and on stage. Her skills and attitude brought ballet to a completely new level and helped reconsider the value of the roles, that she used to perform. Pavlova was an icon and a national hero; perfumers, fashion designer, chocolatiers - everyone wanted to have her name on their products.
But the Russian revolutionists had no place in their great plan of "soviet machine building" for people like Anna Pavlova and she had to escape to the UK. Pavlova continued travelling and performing. She was the prima-ballerina in French and British theatres, Hollywood actress, and just one of the most beloved artists of the XX century all over the world. But behind this successful public life, Pavlova was hiding a deep sorrow and devastation from what was going on in her own country. Leaving Russia was not a sign of betrayal (as most of the soviet papers would say), it was an extremely courageous act of self-sacrifice. She knew, she would never be able to come back, but being abroad, she could help Russia people much more, than when being in Russia. Most of her money was spent on multiple charity organisation to help Russian orphans both at home and abroad. She organised special performances to support the Red Cross during the First World War and sent thousands of ballet kits to her own ballet school in St.Petersburg. She was hard-working, persistent and exceptionally unbreakable for such a brittle, little girl.
I do not think, that Pavlova would care if you are following the original recipe or not. In fact, I think, she would reject anything standard. She would encourage you to do something new and joyful; something that could make a difference to other people and bring warmth and sweetness into their lives and hearts. —AnastasiasKitchen
Serves: 5-6 people
egg whites (1 egg white per layer)
teaspoon vanilla extract
teaspoon starch or cornflour
- The success of the Pavlova dessert lies in the texture of the meringue. Just for this time, you will have to say "no" to the classic French hard meringue. If you squash Pavlova meringue lightly with your fingers, it will melt, not break. Ivory colour on the outside and white candy cotton texture inside. See below. To achieve this, you need to whip the eggs to total death and then be super patient and let the meringue cook very slowly in the oven.
- Put together egg whites with starch, vanilla, and half of your sugar. Whip for 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining sugar. I use my favourite kitchen robot (max. speed) and the whole process takes only 4 minutes. If you are using a hand mixer, it might take unto 8 minutes. When ready, your mixture will be so thick and silky, that you can make whatever shape you want and it will not deform.
- Now spit your mixture into three parts and put them on to the baking paper.
- Meringue does not grow in size in really - just a bit. So, you can leave little space between the three portion. Take a table spoon and form these three parts into similar circles, creating a small groove in the middle to fit in all your berries in the end. Preheat the oven 70-90C/158-194F/fan and cook for 1.5-2 hours. If you are baking the meringue for the fir time, just keep on opening the door of the oven and checking the substance with your finger. It should be crispy on the outside, but very fragile and squashy inside. Meringue should always stay soft and moist. You should be able to lift if from the baking paper quite easily; but be carful, do not break it. It can also catch some ivory tan :). When ready, switch off the oven and keep it inside for another hour. I kept it there overnight - it does not dry easily.
- Now take out the layers and create! Just remember: your meringue is so soft and delicate, that fruit and berries can damage it or even make it soggy; so, leave all the decorations for the last minute - right before serving. I used all fruit and berries, that I could find in my local supermarket.. some glossy powder and hard, decorative candies.
- My Pavlova does not contain cream, because ballerinas do not eat whipped cream (even on holidays, they do not have the right to be weak). I also do not think, that this dessert needs cream. The true pleasure of the Pavlova comes from the surprisingly soft and airy meringue; while ripe, juicy fruit and berries help to cut off its bitter sweetness.