I thought this was a bit of a folly at first. Pavlova is Australian royalty, sitting there perfectly crisp, crowned with fruit. Why would you interfere? Why would you flatten and roll it?
I presume this recipe came from a time when dessert logs were in vogue, possibly the 1960s. This version, I’ve appropriated from Karen Martini.
The thing I like about it – or what attracted me – was that when I tried one recently at a friend’s house, the ratio of meringue to cream, and the associated texture, was more pleasing than the conventional version. The positive outcome of rolling a pavlova with its filling is about the change in texture. The crust breaks down and becomes lovely and chewy.
It’s all too easy to forget how delicious pavlova is. Often a dessert this old would be thought of as retro, but pavlova doesn’t have that reputation because it has been a constant. It’s a dessert from the 1920s that still has relevance. It transcends all trends and fads because it is super delicious.
This is a dessert I have to eat every six to 12 months, or the withdrawal becomes too intense. For me, it’s a dessert up there with tiramisu.
When making a pavlova, I like to add yoghurt to my cream to lighten it. The acid makes the whole thing a little more interesting.
Because this recipe doesn’t need to stand up, it doesn’t require cornflour. In a conventional pavlova, I would add a little for insurance, to guarantee a pert finish.
The topping is also important. I’m a traditionalist, which is to say that as long as it has passionfruit on it I don’t mind what else is there.
– 5 egg whites
– 210g castor sugar
– 1 tsp cream of tartar
– 1 tsp white vinegar
– 300ml whipping cream
– 200ml thick Greek yoghurt
– 2 tbsp castor sugar
– ½ tsp vanilla paste
– 1/3 cup icing sugar
– 1 mango
– 3 passionfruit
– 3 sprigs of mint
Preheat your oven to 160ºC.
Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper about 22 centimetres by 28 centimetres.
Whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer with a pinch of salt. As the whites develop volume, slowly add the 210 grams of castor sugar. When all the sugar is incorporated and has dissolved, add the cream of tartar and vinegar and whisk for a further minute.
Using a spatula, transfer the whipped egg whites onto the baking paper. Carefully spread the mixture evenly across the paper. Place the pavlova sheet in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yoghurt, two tablespoons of castor sugar and vanilla paste together. Continue to whisk until stiff. Store the cream in the fridge until ready to use.
When cooked, remove the pavlova crust from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature.
Lay a clean napkin or tea towel on the bench. Dust the towel with the icing sugar and turn the pavlova sheet onto the towel. Working quickly, peel the paper from the pavlova sheet and cover the surface with all but two tablespoons of the whipped cream.
Using the towel it is lying on, roll the pavlova up over itself to form a log. Roll the log onto a clean piece of baking paper and transfer it to a serving platter. Place in the fridge for a minimum of three hours to set.
To serve, smother the remaining cream over the pavlova roll. Peel and dice the mango and place pieces over the pav, then drizzle the passionfruit pulp on top and garnish with some fresh mint.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 3, 2018 as "Roll with the crunches". Subscribe here.