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Most people love a Pavlova and we have baked them and decorated them for all sorts of celebrations throughout our lives.  I have spent many hours arguing with my Australian relatives as to who invented it, them or us.

Keith Money, a biographer of Anna Pavlova , wrote that a hotel chef in Wellington, New Zealand, created the dish when Pavlova visited there in 1926 on her world tour.

Professor Helen Leach , a culinary anthropologist  at the University of Otago  in New Zealand, has compiled a library of cookbooks containing 667 pavlova recipes from more than 300 sources.  Her book, The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History, states that the first Australian pavlova recipe was created in 1935 while an earlier version was penned in 1929 in a rural magazine.

The Australian website “Australian Flavour” gives the earlier date of 1926 for its creation, suggesting that Home Cookery for New Zealand, by Australian writer Emily Futter, contained a recipe for “Meringue with Fruit Filling”. This recipe was similar to today’s version of the dessert. It has been claimed that Bert Sachse created the dish at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth, Australia in 1935.  In defence of his claim as inventor of the dish, a relative of Sachse’s wrote to Leach suggesting that Sachse may have accidentally dated the recipe incorrectly. Leach replied they would not find evidence for that “because it’s just not showing up in the cookbooks until really the 1940s in Australia.” (However, a 1937 issue of the Australian Women’s Weekly  contains a “pavlova sweet cake” recipe. Of such arguments, Matthew Evans, a restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald, said that it was unlikely that a definitive answer about the pavlova’s origins would ever be found. “People have been doing meringue with cream for a long time, I don’t think Australia or New Zealand were the first to think of doing that.” The first known recorded recipe named “pavlova” was published in the fifth Australian edition of Davis Dainty Dishes in 1926.  However this “pavlova” recipe was not meringue based, but was instead a multi-coloured gelatine  dish.

Well lets agree to disagree then and just enjoy the finished product.  My younger brother Paul is renowned for his Pavlova making and always has requests for different colours and shapes.  He lives in Melbourne but was recently at a family function in New Zealand and made this spectacular Pavlova for 25 people.  Suffice to say there was none left over.!! The “M” shape was for my sister Michelle who was also over from Australia and celebrated a birthday while she was in New Zealand. Her favourite colour is pink so Paul added a pink food colouring to the mixture and also to the cream.  I can definitely recommend this one!!  but I have to say mine didn’t turn out like Pauls……this recipe is for 6.


4 egg whites

1 & 1/4 cups caster sugar

1 teaspoon DYC white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 tablespoon Edmonds Fielder’s cornflour



Preheat oven to 180°C.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and sugar for 10 minutes or until thick and glossy

Mix vinegar, vanilla and cornflour together

Add to meringue

Beat on high speed for a further 5 minutes

Line an oven tray with baking paper

Draw a 22 cm circle on the baking paper

Spread the pavlova mixture to within 2 cm of the edge of the circle, keeping the shape as round and even as possible

Smooth top surface over

Place pavlova in oven then turn oven temperature down to 100°C

Bake pavlova for 1 hour

Turn oven off

Open oven door slightly and leave pavlova in oven until cold

Carefully lift pavlova onto a serving plate

Decorate with whipped cream and fresh fruit


Serves  6




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