I’m afraid this is going to be a very brief post, as I’ve been sick since the weekend. However I couldn’t let the final episode of the Great Australian Bake Off (which airs tonight) go past without at least providing an update on my quest to bake each weekly technical challenge. Week 6 of The Great Australian Bake Off (GABO) saw the bakers attempting a Layered Pavlova Torte with Fondant Strawberry decorations. Now I had every intention of making the decorations as I enjoy making models and decorations out of fondant. However, after waking up sick on Saturday, by the time I had finished baking the meringue I have to admit I just didn’t feel well enough to make them and I went back to bed instead. I will give them a go when I am feeling better and will update the post with them. If you are familiar with cooking pavlovas/meringues then this recipe is quite simple. I really liked the addition of the toasted almond meal to the meringue, it helped cut through the inherent sweetness of a meringue and also provided a nice depth of flavour. The simple filling of whipped cream, strawberries and passionfruit was lovely and balanced well with the crisp/chewy meringue. I did pipe my layers a bit thinner than I should have, however I was still happy with the final result. If I was going to make this again, I’d use the leftover egg yolks to make some lemon/passionfruit curd to ripple through the cream filling. I’d also make smaller individual ones if I was entertaining, as it is quite messy once you cut into it! Two more challenges to go. Next up, Breakfast Croissants. But for now, it is time for a nap to try and get over this virus before setting myself up on the couch later with a cup of tea later for the GABO final!
GABO Layered Pavlova Torte Ingredients You will need two flat baking trays Meringue
- 6 egg whites
- 1 ½ cups caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornflour (sifted)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 150g almond meal (ground almond) – toasted (I toasted mine in a fry pan over a low heat, but you could also toast it in the oven)
- 250ml thickened cream (I actually used whipping cream which wasn’t quite thick enough) – whipped
- 250g strawberries, hulled and sliced or chopped
- 2 tablespoons of passionfruit pulp (or maybe lemon/passionfruit curd if it is unavailable)
Fondant strawberries, flowers and leaves to decorate (optional) Method
- Preheat the oven to 140C fan forced (160C). Prepare two baking trays by drawing 3 rectangles on baking paper, 24cm by 12cm, to use as a template for piping/spreading the meringue. Make sure to leave at least a few centimetres between each rectangle (mine were a bit close). Place the paper, with the ink side down (you don’t want the ink getting into your meringue), onto the baking trays.
- To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl (either using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or an electric hand whisk), until they form stiff peaks. This is the point on TV where people test it by holding the bowl over their heads…or you can just check by lifting up the whisk, and if it holds its shape, its ready. Then gradually add and whisk in the sugar, a little at a time. Whisk until all the sugar has been added and the mixture is thick and glossy and all the sugar has dissolved (you can test this by rubbing a little of the mixture between your fingers, if it is grainy, keep whisking for a bit more).
- Add the cornflour, vanilla and white vinegar and whisk briefly to combine. Then add the almond meal and fold in gently (don’t whisk this in).
- Spread or pipe the mix evenly over the baking paper, using the templates as a guide. You want the rectangles to be even so that you can layer the meringues at the end.
- Bake in the oven for 45 – 60 minutes. Mine were a bit thinner than they should be (I didn’t use all the mixture), so they only took about 45 minutes, however the original recipes states 50 – 60 minutes. If you make them thicker than I did, they will need longer. You are looking for a crisp, baked outside.
- Turn off the oven but leave the meringue in the oven to dry for a further 30 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to continue to cool.
- Once cool, spread the top of one of the meringues with some of the cream and top with half the fruit. Place another meringue on top of this, spread more cream and the remaining fruit and then top with the final layer. I didn’t use quite as much cream as was in the picture of the original recipe, which is why mine looks a bit sparse, but I personally didn’t want too much cream.
- Decorate the top layer however you want. The recipe says to add more cream and then top with fondant decorations. You could use fresh fruit instead, or for a simple finish, just dust with icing sugar as I did.