Saturday, January 27, 2007
Ice-Cream Sunday 5: Happy Australia Day!
If you are in the habit of making custards and ice-creams, it is inevitable that you will amass a great deal of egg-whites. I didn't realise quite how many egg whites I'd collected over the past year, all neatly glad-bagged and stashed in random locations around our freezer, until my mother and I cleaned it out a few weeks ago.
Ahem. This weekend, being the Australia Day weekend, presented me with a good opportunity to work my way through these egg whites. I volunteered to make a couple of pavlovas for my friend Jordy's barbecue on Sunday, a gooseberry ice-cream meringue stack, and some mini-pavlovas for my family to eat on Australia Day itself (Friday).
The full-sized pavlovas are now all baked and sitting on the kitchen bench, ready to be transported to Jordy's house on Sunday for some cream-and-fruit action.
The pavlova recipe I use is, as always, Nigella's pav from How to Eat, which I think is actually Stephanie Alexander's recipe. I think that most basic pav recipes will work just as well as each other, you just need to remember the meringue rules.
- have the whites at room temperature
- have all bowls and whisks clean and dry
- be gentle when transferring the delicate mixture from bowl to lined tray
- do NOT open the oven until the pavs are cooked and slightly cooled.
In her recipe, Nigella also says to preheat the oven to 180C, but to turn it down to 150C as soon as you put the pavs in. She says this helps the pav to keep its shape. I'm not sure how much this helps, because despite this, all my full-size pavs tend to collapse a bit and crack anyway. But I'm sure that following the rules can't hurt. But at any rate, you don't need to fear the cracks - the more cracked a pavlova is, the more cream you can use! Mmm... cream.
As you can see from the first photo, I topped the mini pavlovas with cream and various fruits, most retrieved from the icy-depths of my freezer - stewed rhubarb, gooseberries, redcurrants, blackberries and raspberries. I suppose it seems a bit incongruous to have expensive northern hemisphere fruits on Australia Day, but I just love them too much not to have them with a pavlova. In fact, my German friend who ate with us said that she had almost all of those fruits growing in her garden back in Germany! Lucky girl.
Just out of interest, I made an ice-cream meringue stack as well. In How to be a Domestic Goddess, Nigella says you can make any ice-cream meringue cake by layering thin discs of meringue with softened ice-cream and refreezing till firm. I thought this would be a good way of salvaging the too-sour gooseberry ice-cream which I made a few weeks back.
Here's a close-up of the layers. It's not actually as big or decadent as it looks - this was a mini-stack, as you can see from the size of the lone gooseberry adorning it. We cut it into even smaller pieces to share. It's quite difficult to cut, even once it's been out of the freezer for a little while, so a sharp knife and a sturdy plate are essential. It was still a bit sour, but the contrast of textures between meringue and ice-cream layers was very nice.
Mmm... sugar high!
Happy Australia Day!