I’m staying at the most beautiful hostel in Durango, Colorado. It is so chilled and homely that I don’t want to leave it to see anything.
It is more like a b & b that’s how nice it is. Super clean, quality utensils in the kitchen, a cosy lounge, a deck looking out onto the bush, shelves for those sleeping on the top bunk, fluffy towels, soft sheets and an even softer blanket. A five out of five on my TripAdvisor review.
The kitchen inspired me to bake brownies, from a packet, but still my first bit of baking since I left LA. But I don’t want to think about baking for too long though as I miss my KitchenAid beaters and my pav plate from Goodwill. I’d love to just whip up a pavlova for the hell of it, but it is a finicky business that requires all the right equipment, and most hostels don’t have it. Needless to say when I’m camping there definitely aren’t the facilities for pav making.
Our two-day short film/teaser trailer shoot this weekend was amazing, but it couldn’t have been achieved without the massive efforts of everyone in the team.
To say thank you, I made a pavlova. I just whipped one up. It was a little Aussie treat for our American crew, and also a treat for the Australians who know how awesome they are.
I’m pleased to say that both the thank you gesture and the pavlova went down well with everyone. However, to be brutally honest I think the reception of the pav is going to be eclipsed by the reception of the short film. It is going to be AMAZING!
We had a little gathering of people at our new apartment today, so I decided to whip up a pavlova.
One of the first priorities after I moved to LA was to get all the equipment and ingredients for a making a pavlova. I brought with me my kitchen scales, some measuring spoons, baking trays and a spatula. High on the list of new items to purchase was a good quality hand-mixer, something better than my overheating, screaming one at home. One of my favourite stores in the US, Bed, Bath & Beyond, stocks a 9 speed KitchenAid electric beater with four different attachments. I was attracted to both the brand name and the sparkly mocha colour, so one of those babies came home with me after shopping for essentials like pillows and coathangers.
I realised last night that the glass mixing bowl we got as part of a Pyrex set at Walmart was too small for making a double mixture pavlova, so after picking up yet another desk for the office this morning, J and I stopped by Kmart, which Karen-the-GPS pronounces kuh-mart. Kmart USA is not as good as Kmart Australia, and I could only find a relatively shallow 3.8L glass mixing bowl, which I mumbled something about how it would do the job for now. I also picked up a sieve to sift the cornflour.
I had looked around Ralph’s supermarket for all the ingredients and was again surprised at the lack of options and their not-quite-the-sameness to Australia:
Caster sugar (called Superfine Baking Sugar here) only had one option which came in a 1.89L milk carton
Cornflour is called cornstarch here
Whipping cream comes in milk cartons and when whipped still manages to have somewhat of a foam cream from a can texture and taste
Vanilla extract here is far more thick and syrupy than our vanilla essence
Thanks to the ConvertPad app on my phone, I found out that the equivalent temperature for cooking my pavlova was 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
So with all this brought, bought and figured out, I set up the beaters with the whisk attachment and started the process. I was down to the last bit of sugar to mix in and dissolve when I had a phone call, so I put down the beaters for awhile. When I got back to the kitchen, my previously perky pavlova peaks had morphed into a flat, runny mixture. I tried to beat some life back into it, but it just wasn’t quite the usual consistency, so I spooned it onto the baking tray and hoped for the best.
I don’t know whether it was the new consistency or my hoping for the best, but the best looking pavlova I’ve ever made came out of the oven. Whilst there were cracks in it, as is the norm, the top hadn’t sunken. It really threw me. I didn’t know what to do. I peeked in between the cracks to see if there was any of the marshmallowy meringue in there and saw that under the top crust was a big huge gap of air. So after some hemming and hawing, I chose to pick up the pav, put it on a presentation platter and then break the crust in order to make a hollow for the cream. I was so surprised when I could pick it up in two hands without it falling apart, as is usually the case.
After adding the cream and then decorating with strawberries, kiwi and a few blueberries, it was ready for enjoyment and compliment. Both of which were heaped on and thrown about in generous sizes.
To my discerning pavlova palate, there were a few things I need to try and fix. I think the marshmallowy bit was a bit eggy and the cream not quite dense enough. But they were only small observations (made by me) and give me something to work on as I set out to become the Pavlova Queen of LA.
One of the recent themes on my Facebook and Twitter updates is that of making pavlova.
I have taken on the humble pav as my dessert specialty. I take them to barbecues, dinner parties, family gatherings and am about to start making them for friends just because they love them and heap praise upon my abilities to make a great pav.
Pavlova is an antipodean cultural phenomenon that was created in honour of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova whilst she toured the region.
There is much conjecture as to whether it is an Australian or New Zealand invention, so I don’t want to turn up the oven heat on this and will say that both countries regard the pav as a cultural icon. Read more about the fascinating history of the pavlova on one of my favourite educative sites, Wikipedia.
I believe the pavlova is making a comeback. Once alongside the old Savoy biscuits with kabana and cheddar cheese or the coloured pickled onion on a toothpick in the party food category, it is making a retro comeback – a well deserved retro comeback that I’m helping along.
Take last Sunday for example. I rocked up to a party at a friends house with a guest list oozing with foodies and my pav decorated with blackberries and kiwifruit. I had no less than five people remark on the pavlova and how it rocked their world in that moment.
About three years ago, I had never made a pav. My aunt had given me her mother-in-law’s recipe in a book years before, but I’d always put it in the too hard category. I was afraid of failing. Until one day, I was so desperate for a pav, that I opened it up and made my very first pavlova. It wasn’t a bad effort, but it was mostly crusty meringue and not the marshmallowy inside that makes a truly great pav. So the next time I adjusted it slightly, and I’ve been making them ever since. They are super easy to make but just require some intensive output from the beaters.
So I’m making a pav today for the family Christmas lunch, making it with love and sitting back to watch the pavlova’s resurgence to the dinner table.