Lawrence announced that he’d like a pavlova for his birthday. Rather than scurry to the supermarket and buy one, I determined – especially as there were 8 frozen egg whites in the freezer – to make one. A step into the unknown. Which had me turning to a variety of cookery books for guidance. The NZ Women’s Institutes Home Cookery Book from 1941 looked a likely source, but they called it a pavlova cake, baked in a tin … that didn’t coincide with childhood memories of pavlova mix being placed on a cut-out circle of baking paper on a baking tray and put into a cooling (wood-fired) oven after a roast dinner. So, in the end, I put my faith in S. Reynolds’ recipe from the Eastern Southland Women’s Hockey Association Cook Book, from 1971. A recipe that S. Reynolds says never fails.
4 egg whites 1 cup (castor) sugar
1 tspn vanilla 2 tspn cornflour
2 tspn (white) vinegar
Beat egg whites and cornflour well. Add vinegar and vanilla. Beat well and add sugar gradually. Butter (greaseproof or baking) paper then wet. Place mix on paper on baking tray. Place in oven heated to 300 F/150 C. Switch off oven and bake 1 ½ hours.
I have to admit that, although it didn’t rise particularly and looked a little like a cream-smothered, strawberry-decorated frisbee when it came to the table, it was soft in the centre, with a satisfying meringue exterior. I was relieved. And I hope S. Reynolds would have approved.