I just finished reading a fabulous book about Colonial Australia. I was worried when I started that the author would write with a bias either in the way of the aboriginals or the colonialist, but neither existed. It was so good that I wanted to blog about a Native Australian food in honor of The Secret River (by Kate Grenville) The problem arose when I was searching for a “native” food because the aboriginals were hunter/gathers and that doesn’t make for very interesting food blogging. The one food they keep discussing in the book was damper and after a quick search on google I discovered that it was just soda bread cooked on an open fire which was disappointing because I’m none too fond of soda bread.  *sigh*

So I searched for “Australian recipes” and they are few and far between let me tell you. One “native” recipe is a kangaroo pie, which means I’ll need kangaroo, and while they sell that in Australian grocery stores I’m on the other side of the world from our down under friends. Which left me with Pavlova . The story is that the dessert was created in honor of the dancer Anna Pavlova either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s and while deeper research will show you that the likely nationality of its creator is New Zealander I’m calling it good enough.

Strawberry Pavlova Cake

3/4 cup egg whites, from about 5-6 large eggs, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 lbs. strawberries, sliced
2 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Lightly butter 3 (8-inch) round cake pans, then dust sides of pans with confectioners sugar, knocking out excess. Line bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper. Set aside. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together, rubbing any lumps between your fingers.  Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar/cornstarch by tablespoonfuls and beat well.  Add the vanilla and vinegar.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Divide the meringue between the pans and spread evenly.

Bake for one hour.  Turn off oven and prop open the oven door and allow to cool completely.  Remove from oven and store at room temperature until ready to assemble.

To assemble:
Beat the whipping cream with the sour cream until it holds soft peaks. Sprinkle the sugar over the sliced strawberries and toss.  Place one layer of the meringue on a serving platter. Gently spread 1/3 of the cream mixture over the top of the meringue.  Spoon 1/3 of the strawberries on the whipped cream. Repeat with remaining meringue, cream and fruit.
Makes enough for 6-8.  Serve immediately.

Source: Café Johnsonia who adapted it from Gourmet magazine