The country show cookbook, 256pp.
from the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW
New Holland Publishers, Sydney, 2010
Cooking on page 132
This goldmine of award-winning recipes from country shows across Australia belongs to my friends, Denise and Tony. They loaned it to me after Denise made a sensational apricot yogurt cake for the monthly morning teas we have after our gym classes.
The book has six chapters covering the sorts of delicacies one sees on display at country shows (or country fairs as they are called in the USA). There are scones, cakes, pies and tarts, biscuit (cookies) and slices, pickles and relishes, and jams and spreads.
Page 32 has pictures only so I moved on to 132 and Australia’s iconic pavlova, by Wilma Bott of the Barellan Show.
4 egg whites
1 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
Beat eggwhites until soft peaks form. Gradually add castor sugar, beating until dissolved and mixture is thick.
Add the lemon juice, sugar and cornflour and beat on low into the meringue. Place sheet of baking paper on tray and make a circle with mixture to approximately 23cm (9 in). With a spatula work around the circle lifting as you go to make ridge around the pavlova. Bake in oven for 50 minutes. Leave in oven to go cold. When ready to serve, fill with cream and fruit of your choice.
When finished baking, leave the meringue in the oven, with door ajar, to cool completely. If you remove the meringue when it’s still warm it will cool too quickly and may crack or collapse.
How it played out
True confession. I’ve lived in Australia for most of the last 35 years and this is the first time I’ve ever made a pavlova. While Australia and New Zealand disagree on which country came up with this dessert first, everyone seems to agree that it was named after the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova.
Earlier this week, I made this as our dessert for company on Australia Day and, yes, I followed the recipe. The mixture didn’t get quite as thick/stiff as I’d hoped, but I didn’t realise that until I was spreading it on the baking pan. I’ll learn.
As suggested, I left the pav to cool in the oven, but it cracked anyway. My friend, Barb, who can make pavlovas in her sleep, says she uses vinegar instead of lemon juice. I don’t know if that makes a difference. They’re both a shot of acid.
Topped it all with whipped cream and thawed mixed berries that were rather juicier than I expected.
For a first effort, it was pretty good. The dinner guests were most complimentary, but I’ve had better and prettier pavs in the past—Barb’s are especially fine.
Most of all, I was stunned to discover just how quick and easy it is to make a pavlova. Why haven’t I been making them before? I’ll fine-tune this in time.
P.S. Hope you like my retro, pink sugar container. I have a matching set for flour, sugar, rice, tea and coffee. Each one is a different colour. I love them.
Unlike Anna Pavlova, we haven’t spent a lot of time in Russia on our travels. But we have had some memorable experiences from our brief time there—including this one.
Feel free to check out the post I added to my travel blog on Australia Day.