Australia Day is coming up very soon on January 26th and a pavlova would arguably be the national dessert of Australia. The idea for a pavlova in the shape of Australia came to me while I was daydreaming about cake (what else is there to daydream about?). I dreamt of one topped with a range of Australian fruit sectioned off by state along with a blanket of whipped cream and passionfruit! Would it be possible? #pavlovaparty anyone?
This year we're celebrating Australia Day with my usual squad and I am bringing a lamb dish and a pavlova. I knew I wanted to make a pavlova and a small part of me thought that one shaped like Australia might be easily achievable. While my dreams often fall short in reality I realised before starting it that meringue spreads when you bake it and that I might not actually end up with a pavlova in the shape of Australia, but rather one in the shape of a cat's head. And that would be funny and crazy (and then I started thinking of a cat pavlova).
Then I remembered something that I was given called a Bake Snake in March last year (not sponsored but you can bet that I was glad that I had it in my cupboard). It's a series of silicon pieces that interlock and you can create shapes like numbers or letters using it. Or in my case Australia! I didn't think it would work for a very liquid batter but a pavlova would be perfect for it. Mr NQN and I shaped the pavlova and the bake snake wouldn't hold the Australia shape quite in the way that we wanted it so we added ramekins and then...we had Australia! I made the pavlova, spread it out in the mold, made a video, slid it in the oven for one and a half hours too scared to open it, and crossed my fingers.
Well blow me over with a feather. It actually worked! The rest was just fun decorating. I added a topping of lightly sweetened whipped cream, a layer of fresh passionfruit pulp and then like the OCD bunny that I am, I decorated each state/territory with its own fruit (Please forgive me ACT? I ran out of fruit and the ability to count :( x). I know banana as NSW is tenuous but I sort of ran out of fruit to assign to each state and raw apples seemed unsuitable for a pavlova. Also Queensland pretty much grows everything really so it couldn't get all the fruit.
Can I just say that I am now convinced that pavlova needs to be baked in a ring mold because when it isn't bound, it spreads and loses height. Whereas this baby is tall and proud with a beautifully crispy outer and the lightest, highest layer inside. There's the sweet spot from where the crunch hits the airy filling and the cream and the tart passionfruit and fruit hits the sugary sweetness of the meringue. We had no choice but to have a pavlova party with all of the pavlova that we made. Doesn't that sound like the sweetest kind of party?
I also just wanted to check, are we still all eating sugar after Christmas? We are of course although the other day Mr NQN emerged from the bathroom in the hotel we were staying at and practically shrieked. Now if you know him, he has a deep voice that utters few words so a high shriek is most uncommon.
"Mon cheri!! I am FAT!" he said wringing his hands worriedly. He explained that he got on the hotel room's scale (ours is broken, almost deliberately so as I refuse to put batteries in ours and/or get on it) and he actually saw his weight.
"I put on four kilos in the last two years!" he exclaimed.
I was a little distracted as I was writing so I turned to him and said, "In how long? Two weeks?" thinking that it was all the Christmas food.
"No, two years," he said.
"Amateur," I responded drily. Honestly I could do that in two days. And he's worried about two years? And when I prompted him about it, it turned out that his 6 foot 2 frame is just 80 kilos now. He occasionally frets about it but my response is that pavlova contains a lot of fruit and so it must be terribly good for you ;) And besides which, Australia Day is the perfect day for a Pavlova Party!
So tell me Dear Reader, a cheeky question but how long would it take you to put on 4 kilos? And are you still eating healthily? Do you take "time off" from healthy eating for holidays or celebrations? And which fruit section would you pick?