Saturday, July 3, 2010
With three contestants from earlier episodes back in play for another shot at the MasterChef title, I thought I'd revisit one of the very first challenges set by Donna Hay. Can you guess what it is? Why it's the pavlova challenge of course!
We all know what pavlova is: crisp and crunchy on the outside with soft, pillowy meringue on the inside and all as white as a cloud on a bright, sunny day. Where most people tend to go wrong in the pav-making process is hmm let's see.. The stage when the egg whites are whisking and the recipe calls to add sugar to create a meringue. If you've read books by the likes of Shirley O'Corriher, Harold McGee or Hervé This, you'll be aware that adding sugar early in the mixing process inhibits the ability of egg white to become light and fluffy with loads of volume.
If you add sugar at the beginning, you'll end up with the perfect paste to pour into a soup bowl. What you should do instead, is beat the whites until they are aerated enough to form soft peaks and only then begin adding sugar (a little at a time mind you). If you dump it all in at once, the egg whites will collapse. If you add it gradually, the sugar will bind with the whites to create a more stable platform to hold up under the weight of the additional sugar and you'll have a meringue with maximum volume!