I once tried to make a pavlova.
Instead of stiff peaks, they fell ova’.
I tried to make do,
But it didn’t bake through,
And a dinosaur shell’s what’s left over.
So here’s what really happened. A meringue is whipped egg whites and sugar. You bake it until completely dried through and crispy. A pavlova is egg whites, sugar, vinegar, and cornstarch, which stabilize the meringue, allowing you to bake it until the outside is crispy but leaving the inside fluffy and tender with a texture that melts in your mouth.
My test run with small meringues got a good meringue volume and stiffness, but this time I tried a slightly different recipe. Also, my eggs got a couple tiny strands of yolk in them. Now, I’ve whipped egg whites with a drop of yolk in them, and they were fine. However, egg yolk or other fats can keep them from stabilizing enough to get the volume and strength to form stiff peaks, which seems to be especially pronounced when you add sugar. So, my meringue never got stiff peaks.
I decided to do some kitchen experimenting. Right? I’m crazy. But I hate wasting so much especially after I put too much time into it. Well, sponge cakes are meringues with some flour added. And angel food cake is a whole bunch of meringue with a little flour added. So I did what any normal person would do…
I decided to whip my meringue over a pot of simmering water to further strengthen it, like a Swiss meringue … kind of. I mean, it’s not technically correct to whip meringue over heat after it’s already been whipped, but I was experimenting here. Anyways, they acquired my desired stiffness.
I then sifted in just 50 grams of flour, which is just under a half cup. I folded it together and poured it into my springform, because it wouldn’t keep it’s shape to just dump it onto a baking sheet, like a regular meringue, without something giving it shape. I popped it into my preheated oven, set the timer for an hour, watched it puff a bit and look beautiful, then turned off the oven and left it in there for a good two hours.
Well, as you can see, the outside certainly became perfectly crispy and delightfully smooth, but through a slight hole, I could see that all was not well inside. I went ahead and popped open the springform, causing the meringue top to crack like a dinosaur egg, and the inside was just a pile of collapsed goo.
I most certainly didn’t bake it long enough. However, around the edges was some slightly set cake, which had a wonderfully soft and silky texture. I’m encouraged in my pursuits to make pavlova and possibly experiment again, but with a stiffer meringue base and nothing funky in the egg whites to begin with.
If you’d like to try your hand at the original pavlova recipe that I attempted, check it out at Azelia’s Kitchen, HERE.
Azelia’s Kitchen also has a fantastic video tutorial about what makes meringue’s work and also the difference between meringue and pavlova. I found these quite helpful, especially the video which is straightforward and most informative.
Stay tuned for more Kitchen Fail Limericks and stories in the future.
With love and no pavlova,