Pavlovas are really sweet," Reshma Mane warns us about the Australia-New Zealand dessert which requires five ingredients — egg whites, castor sugar, a teaspoon of corn flour, vanilla essence and a cap of vinegar — and a lot of beating. Named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, the pavlova is a dessert consisting of a meringue base or shell filled with whipped cream and fruit.
And, in the few months that the homebaker has been experimenting with it, she says, it has seen great success.
Classic pavlova cake with fresh cream and strawberries
The 30-year-old Vakola resident, who runs Every Aroma Caterers and Classes, sold out at the Dessert Garden, a pop-up for desserts held in November last year, and did fairly well at the Farmer’s Market last week.
"A friend staying in the US suggested I try a hand at pavlovas. The classic pavlova is served with fresh cream and strawberries.
I also do tiramisu, banana and caramel, chocolate-strawberry and a Turkish delight with rose, cream, pomegranate seeds and pistachios," says Mane, adding, that "following the recipe is the key. The Pavlova, has a crunchy outer crust and a marshmallow-like filling."
To help us understand how it is made, Mane breaks an egg and separates the egg white in a mixer, and switches the beater on. Between the drumming of the machine, and the rising of peaks, she tells us that it is not possible to reduce the amount of sugar, as it is the catalyst for the meringue.
Once the eggs and sugar are blended, she adds vinegar and corn flour and repeats the process. She takes a whisk on her finger.
"Check the peaks, they are smooth. Now we can prepare for baking," says Mane, placing butter paper on a baking tray. She puts dollops of batter and pokes a spoon in the centre. "I want a slight crater at the centre, for the filling," Mane explains.
Once she sets the oven at 150°C, she pushes the tray into the middle tier. "We don’t want to burn them," says Mane, turning the time knob to 30 minutes.
Mane, who got into baking "for the love of it", followed up a course in management with a course at Dadar’s Institute of Hotel Management. While she has been baking mini pavlovas, she baked her first pavlova cake last month, which she sold for R1,000 a kg.
"I don’t do fondant cakes as it is a sheer waste. People never eat the sugary coating, and it only adds to the weight of the cake. The sweetness of pavlovas are cut with the citrusy fruits and fresh cream," says Mane.