Laura's pavlova with fruit and cream
( SERVES 8 )
This family pavlova is one of the dishes in my repertoire with royal connections. My grandmother, Laura Skudder, was born into a Tongan/German family in Nuku‘alofa in the Kingdom of Tonga, and lived most of her life there. She became a great friend of Queen Salote, and I have fond memories of visiting the Auckland residence of the Tongan royal family when my grandmother’s and Salote’s visits coincided. When Queen Elizabeth visited Tonga during her tour of Commonwealth countries in 1953, Queen Salote asked my grandmother to make her famous pavlova for a celebratory luncheon. My grandfather grew the strawberries for the top of the pavlova, and today we always think of Laura and the Queen when we make this favourite dessert. I don’t know whether Her Majesty enjoyed my nana’s pav.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Prepare the baking tray by drawing a 22cm circle on a sheet of baking paper. Cut a long strip of paper about 10cm wide and form a paper case that will fit around the circle. Fix the ends together with a pin or paper clip to make a paper case.
- Beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar, a third at a time, and continue to whisk until the mixture is shiny and very thick. Gently sprinkle in the cornflour, scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod and add the vinegar. Mix gently.
- Place the mixture in the paper case and spread it out evenly, smoothing the top. Put the pavlova into the pre-heated oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 140C. Cook slowly for about an hour or more until the interior sets.
- When cool, prepare the decoration. Whip the cream to firm peaks and spread over the pavlova with a palette knife. You can pipe rosettes around the edge for extra effect. Scatter the fruit over the top.