New Zealand Fruit Cake Recipe – Aside from ice cream, I can’t think of a more perfect summer dessert than pavlova. It’s cool, fresh, light and sweet… A humble version of the traditional American strawberry shortcake. The main difference is in the cake. If you’re looking for a refreshing new meal, you can’t go wrong with this recipe by Australian and New Zealand Paul. This has become my new favorite summer candy. But really, it’s good for any season, depending on the addition of toppings and fruit!
Close your eyes (well, open one eye while you’re reading 😉 ) and imagine…sweet, fresh summer fruit in light, fluffy, sweetened whipped cream on top of la piece de resistance…wrapped in a cloud of sweet, soft, marshmallow and meringue. A beautiful, delicious, elegant dessert fit for royalty, but cheap and simple enough for the rest of us.
New Zealand Fruit Cake Recipe
They love this dessert so much that it became the subject of a dispute between Australia and New Zealand. If two countries fight against each other, this cake. Each country has its own story that describes the origin of the cake. BOTH claim to have created it. However, there is evidence that meringue cakes like Pavlova were being baked and eaten from Europe to America before the Dole people became famous for it. But honestly, who cares…dessert exists and we love our friends Down Under for it. “Down under Pavlova”… that’s what it should be called.
This Fruitcake Is Over 100 Years Old
The name Pavlova is less controversial. This dessert is named Pavlova in honor of the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who visited Down Under in the early 20th century.
Century. Like the simplest story, the meringue cake layer is so light and airy that it resembles Paul’s tutu with his grace and ethereal movements on stage. We don’t know if the tutu inspired the cake, or if someone thought of Paul’s tutu immediately after the cake was made because it was world famous at the time. Regardless, they are clearly similar to each other.
NO! This meringue cake is actually quite easy to make. However, whipping the egg whites well along with the baking temperature and having patience are the key elements to make or break this cake. After a lot of trial and error tweaking the recipe, I’m sharing the recipe with the tips that work best for me as a home baker.
The ingredients for this recipe are simple, a few more for the meringue layer than a true French macaron recipe, but very little.
Down Under Christmas Cake
For the toppings you need heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and any fresh fruit you like like strawberries, kiwis and blueberries. Depending on the season, I use fresh strawberries, blueberries and kiwi. The kiwi is of course an homage to Australia and New Zealand, but you can use any fruit in season depending on the time of year you make it. See my notes at the end of seasonal recipe options. Passion fruit, although hard to find in many places, is a favorite Down Under.
Pavlova Toppings: Heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and any fresh fruit you like like strawberries, kiwis and blueberries
At least 30 minutes until the night before you want to make the meringue, separate the whites from the yolks; it’s easier to separate them while they’re cool. You will need 4 large egg whites weighing about 130 grams. Leave the egg whites in a covered, clean glass container on the counter until you are ready to use them. Refrigerate the egg yolks to use in another recipe.
TIP: Egg whites at room temperature dissolve the sugar faster and are easier to beat due to the looser/relaxed protein. While cold egg whites have stronger proteins that make the eggs take longer to fold, meringue will hold its shape. An acidic ingredient such as vinegar, lemon juice, or cream of tartar can help with whisking if the eggs are too hot or too old. I find that room temperature egg whites work best in this recipe.
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Because this recipe comes together so quickly, preheat the oven to 235˚F/113˚C before you start beating the eggs. Place the rack in the bottom, third position of your oven. I’ve made several pavlovas at different baking temperatures and settled on 235˚F/113˚C. That temperature for me produces a very bright, colorful exterior while still crisp, with a soft but perfectly cooked marshmallow center. Some recipes call for cooking at a higher temperature which often causes more cracking and caramelization of the crust. I find that a lighter crust is a better option.
Pavlovas are known to have a round shape. What works best for me is marked parchment paper on a round cookie sheet. You can also use foil, but I prefer paper. If using paper, draw a circle 9 inches in diameter with a Pavlova outline pencil. I just used a 9 inch round pan as a guide. Place the paper with the pencil mark next to the baking sheet to prevent the lead from absorbing into your food.
TIP: Some recipes online suggest making a 7- or 8-inch circle. I tried an 8 inch circle and found that my Pavlova didn’t cook at all. I don’t want to raise the temperature, because I don’t want to have more cracks or brown outside. So the 9 inch circle works great for me.
Since beating the eggs is an important step in this recipe, we need to get it right. I find that a stand mixer is the easiest and fastest way to beat eggs; however, a hand mixer can also be used. You will need a clean glass or metal container. Use the whisk attachment and whip the egg whites until soft peaks form; I find medium speed #4 on my KitchenAid mixer does the job. Gradually add 214 grams of sugar ~ 1 cup. Add 1 tablespoon at a time in ~30 second intervals until everything is added. Continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. You can check by rubbing the mixture between your fingers. If the mixture is grainy, the sugar is not dissolved.
Best Ever New Zealand Pavlova Recipe
TIP: To make a successful pavlova, there is an appropriate ratio of egg whites and sugar. For every egg white (~32.5 grams) you need to use 1.65 times (~53.6 grams) of sugar. For this recipe, I actually weigh the eggs each time I make them. Whenever 4 eggs weigh between 129-132 grams, I always add 214-215 grams of sugar. In a simpler way, add 1/4 cup of sugar to each egg you use. I don’t have a problem with sugar not completely dissolving. If you do this, you can use less sugar.
TIP: Superfine sugar dissolves more easily than the large grains of regular granulated sugar. It can be difficult to dissolve regular sugar during the whipping process, resulting in a grainy, heavier meringue.
Sugar, in general, stabilizes the eggs, gives them a nice sheen after they are scrambled, and creates the crispy (and caramelized, if you like) exterior needed to hold the topping.
When the sugar is almost dissolved and the peaks start to stiffen, it’s time to add the rest. You know this when you lift the whisk and the mixture comes together with the mixture in the bowl. At this point, while the machine is still beating the eggs, slowly add 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Then add ¼ teaspoon of SIFTED salt slowly while stirring. Shortly after that, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla a few drops at a time until well combined.
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TIP: Vinegar acid (or any acid like tartar or lemon juice) hardens egg whites by denature them. The acid neutralizes the alkaline acids found in aged/aged eggs. Finally, the acid helps the egg whites achieve the desired fullness and stiffness, while also preventing over-whipping.
TIP: All for the aroma! They do not improve shape or texture. However, it should be added when the egg whites are whipped. Salt, if too much, prevents the binding of egg proteins which creates whipped foam. Both of these components are technically optional and can be omitted.
Continue mixing until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form. Gradually add 1 tablespoon of SIFTED cornstarch. You can beat between medium and high speed (#6-#8) on the KitchenAid mixer just enough to disperse the cornstarch throughout the mixture. The mixture is ready when it holds its shape and the peaks stand without floppy peaks.
TIP: Cornstarch helps reduce the moisture that causes meringues to weep. It also softens the egg whites creating a soft and chewy marshmallow center.
Recipe: Alice Law’s Fruit Cake
Roll the meringue into a circle on the parchment paper. Don’t forget to put parchment paper on the side of the baking sheet. Spread the meringue to fill the circle. The outer edge of the meringue should be 2 1/2-3 inches long with a shallow indentation in the center to hold the top. I don’t see the need for a well, but you can do it if you want.
For a decorative meringue with specific edges, use