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Old 03-22-2006, 05:20 AM   #1
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Pavlova/Meringue Question

Hi-

I've been trying to perfect the New Zealand/Australia pavlova, which for me has involved learning how to properly beat eggs and what exactly the difference between 'soft peaks' and 'hard peaks' is. I think I've got that down finally...

After four flat pavlovas I switched to a metal bowl for beating the eggs and parchment paper instead of butter underneath the pav.

I thought #5 was perfect! It held its shape for the first time. Until I cut it. Instead of moist and airy throughout, there was a 3mm crunchy crust and a large air pocket, with moist and airy pav collapsed inside. It's close, but not close enough, and since I really don't know what do do differently this time, I ask you.

Here's the recipe I've used the last 3 times: http://www.pavlova.co.nz/recipe.htm

I don't have an electric beater so I use a whisk and a metal bowl (not copper). I start the eggs off slowly to prevent large air cells from forming. When I get hard peaks I just barely whisk in the cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract. I try not to beat too much at that point.
What do you think? Any advice? Thanks a lot!

-Sean

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Old 03-27-2006, 04:42 AM   #2
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bump


anyone got any ideas? i could use a hint
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Old 03-27-2006, 05:22 AM   #3
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Hmmm I would say that it is not your egg beating skills that are in question since it is evident that you have worked on perfecting them. Although...when are you incorporating the sugar into the egg whites?

Anyhow I'm tempted to think that it might be during the actual cooking process that things are going askew. It is vitally important when cooking meringue (and hence, pavlova) that they are not disturbed by opening the oven door too early. Ideally you should not open the oven door until the pavlova has has completely cooled.

Those are my thoughts, if I can think of anything more I will divulge.
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Old 03-27-2006, 11:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggis
Hmmm I would say that it is not your egg beating skills that are in question since it is evident that you have worked on perfecting them. Although...when are you incorporating the sugar into the egg whites?

Anyhow I'm tempted to think that it might be during the actual cooking process that things are going askew. It is vitally important when cooking meringue (and hence, pavlova) that they are not disturbed by opening the oven door too early. Ideally you should not open the oven door until the pavlova has has completely cooled.

Those are my thoughts, if I can think of anything more I will divulge.

Actually I've been very careful about opening the door early. I always feel the glass to ensure it's at room temperature.

As far as the sugar, I have been beating it in when I get soft peaks, about 2 tbsp. at a time. I beat the whites until I can no longer feel the grains of the sugar rubbing between the bowl and the whisk, then I add more sugar.

hmm...
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Old 03-28-2006, 07:29 PM   #5
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I think what you need to do is increase drying time as long as meringue does not start to brown I have have dried meringues as long as 2 hours in a low heat oven then let sit over night in oven with the heat from the pilot light.If it's a humid day it will take longer.
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Old 03-28-2006, 07:44 PM   #6
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Hmm the only other possible thing I can think of is to try dropping the vinegar content to 1/2 a teaspoon.

Books that take a scientific approach to cooking (such as the useful Cookwise) recommend that you use 1/8 of a teaspoon of vinegar (or cream of tartar) for each egg white when making a meringue.

Also you may want to cut out the salt from the recipe all together. I know it is their for flavour but salt also reduces the stability of meringues. It should not make a real difference to the final flavour, and if it makes a good pavlova the trade off is worth it.

Just out of interest, are you beating the eggwhites from room temperature? Or are they straight out of the fridge? No idea if this could have an effect on their stability or just the ease of whipping. If you do beat them straight out of the fridge, try letting them come to room temperature first, it will make them easier to whip (and who knows, it may solve your problem as well).

Apart from that, I'm all out of ideas.
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Old 03-28-2006, 08:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpmcgrew
I think what you need to do is increase drying time as long as meringue does not start to brown I have have dried meringues as long as 2 hours in a low heat oven then let sit over night in oven with the heat from the pilot light.If it's a humid day it will take longer.
OK, next time I'll cook it in the evening so I can leave it over night. I am curious about the science of leaving it in the oven to cool ever so slowly. Is it setting? Why does humidity affect cooling time? Thanks for your reply!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggis
Hmm the only other possible thing I can think of is to try dropping the vinegar content to 1/2 a teaspoon.

Books that take a scientific approach to cooking (such as the useful Cookwise) recommend that you use 1/8 of a teaspoon of vinegar (or cream of tartar) for each egg white when making a meringue.

Also you may want to cut out the salt from the recipe all together. I know it is their for flavour but salt also reduces the stability of meringues. It should not make a real difference to the final flavour, and if it makes a good pavlova the trade off is worth it.

Just out of interest, are you beating the eggwhites from room temperature? Or are they straight out of the fridge? No idea if this could have an effect on their stability or just the ease of whipping. If you do beat them straight out of the fridge, try letting them come to room temperature first, it will make them easier to whip (and who knows, it may solve your problem as well).

Apart from that, I'm all out of ideas.
Vinegar: I will certainly try reducing to 1/2 tsp.
Salt: I'll try this as well.
Temp. of eggs: Room temperature. Actually, the time I almost succeeded in getting the perfect pavlova I seperated the eggs at fridge temp then let the whites sit for 1/2 hour. Every other time I had seperated them at room temp. I wonder if this contributed to the partial success. Of course, I had also used parchment paper for the first time and used the full amount of sugar for the first time.

Cookwise looks like just the book I've been unconsciously longing for. I'm on Amazon right now...


Thanks for all your input.
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Old 03-28-2006, 08:20 PM   #8
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Cornwells Pavolva

I have that recipe but I have three alternative instructions:

Beat egg whites and salt to soft peak. Gradually add the castor sugar. Beat to stiff peak. Beat in vanilla , vinegar and cornflour. 9" circle Preheat 150C. Reduce to 140C for 15 minutes, then reduce to 120C for 1 1/4 hours. Cool completely in the oven.

Beat egg whites and salt until stiff and glossy, then gradually add the sugar, beating to dissolve sugar. Beat until thick. Last of all, quickly beat in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Cover a baking tray with greased paper or baking paper, pile PAVLOVA mixture in centre of tray, spreading out slightly. Bake at 120C 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave PAVLOVA in oven for another hour.

Beat egg whites and salt until stiff and glossy, then gradually add the sugar, beating to dissolve sugar. Beat until thick. Last of all, quickly beat in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Cover a baking tray with greased paper or baking paper, pile PAVLOVA mixture in centre of tray, spreading out slightly. Bake at 125C 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Turn off oven and leave PAVLOVA in oven for another hour.

NOTES:
While finer sugars may dissolve more readily and more quickly and will produce a smoother, glossier meringue than coarser sugars, they will also produce one of less volume. Finer sugars must still be added slowly and the meringue mixture beaten to the proper stage.


When the whites turn glossy and their tips curl over slightly, gradually add the sugar, 1 to 2 tb at a time. Ideally, the sugar should be dissolved before the next lot is added. Beat until the peaks stand tall without bending, and the mixture is smooth with no grittiness. Test to see that the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a bit of the meringue between your fingers.


Pavlova should have a crisp outer and a soft, marshmallow type interior. It is because of this difference in texture between inside and outside that it is prone to sinking and cracking. Once the pavlova is filled with cream and fruit these are hardly noticeable.

I hope this helps:
.


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Old 03-29-2006, 01:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auzzi
I have that recipe but I have three alternative instructions:

Beat egg whites and salt to soft peak. Gradually add the castor sugar. Beat to stiff peak. Beat in vanilla , vinegar and cornflour. 9" circle Preheat 150C. Reduce to 140C for 15 minutes, then reduce to 120C for 1 1/4 hours. Cool completely in the oven.

Beat egg whites and salt until stiff and glossy, then gradually add the sugar, beating to dissolve sugar. Beat until thick. Last of all, quickly beat in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Cover a baking tray with greased paper or baking paper, pile PAVLOVA mixture in centre of tray, spreading out slightly. Bake at 120C 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave PAVLOVA in oven for another hour.

Beat egg whites and salt until stiff and glossy, then gradually add the sugar, beating to dissolve sugar. Beat until thick. Last of all, quickly beat in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Cover a baking tray with greased paper or baking paper, pile PAVLOVA mixture in centre of tray, spreading out slightly. Bake at 125C 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Turn off oven and leave PAVLOVA in oven for another hour.

NOTES:
While finer sugars may dissolve more readily and more quickly and will produce a smoother, glossier meringue than coarser sugars, they will also produce one of less volume. Finer sugars must still be added slowly and the meringue mixture beaten to the proper stage.


When the whites turn glossy and their tips curl over slightly, gradually add the sugar, 1 to 2 tb at a time. Ideally, the sugar should be dissolved before the next lot is added. Beat until the peaks stand tall without bending, and the mixture is smooth with no grittiness. Test to see that the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a bit of the meringue between your fingers.


Pavlova should have a crisp outer and a soft, marshmallow type interior. It is because of this difference in texture between inside and outside that it is prone to sinking and cracking. Once the pavlova is filled with cream and fruit these are hardly noticeable.

I hope this helps:
.

OK, thanks for giving me a lot to think about. As you suggested, I've been careful to add the vinegar, vanilla, and cornflour quickly at the end. But I'm not sure what you mean by "once the pavlova is filled with cream and fruit..." do you mean covered with cream and fruit? or do you physically lift the crunchy exterior and fill it, then replace it? thanks for your input... i'm going to give it another try tomorrow night.
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Old 03-29-2006, 02:28 AM   #10
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Cream etc

Once the pavlova is removed from the oven, the crunchy outer skin seems to like to sink in the centre, towards the marshmallow interior. Some "authorities" advise running a knife around the outer edge of the pavlova - about 1/2" in from the edge. This is supposed to cause an "even" collapse.

Whipped cream, Chantilly cream, light whipped custard etc fills this depression - then you can layer on the fruit: kiwi fruit, sliced peaches[pat dry], sliced bananas[dipped in lemon], etc and covered it with a liberal dose of passionfruit pulp[with or without seeds]....
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