Up until about a week ago, I wasn't feeling festive at all. Christmas not only felt a while away, but the previous one still felt so recent. So recent, I wasn't feeling in any way inspired to create or bake something new for Christmas. All I could think of was the gingerbread cake I made last year, which I really liked and the many pavlovas I made made in the years previous to that (the most recent Christmas Pav being this one). So, after mulling this over for a little bit, and starting to slightly freak out that Christmas would come and go without me posting any Christmas related recipe here, it suddenly dawned on me that the perfect Christmas dessert this year would be a combination of my favourites from previous years. And thus this Gingerbread Pavlova was born.
I am so happy with it, and have almost single handedly eaten most of it myself (calories don’t count at Christmas, right?). I know I have a few Pavlova recipes floating around on the blog, but the base of this recipe (my Grandma’s) is very special to me, and I seem to never cease to come up with new adaptations of it. Pavlova was something my Grandma often made at Christmas, and was her go to Summer time dessert. For me, despite not having too many family Christmas traditions, Pavlova is definitely a dessert that must be on the table for it to be actually Christmas for me.
My only other Christmas food traditions (or requirements) are a ham, some gingerbread biscuits and a rather large quantity of white cherries. The only other traditions we have that I can think of are that whether the presents are from Santa or not, and whether we are actually adults now or not, the ‘Santa’ presents can only go under the tree after we go to bed on Christmas Eve. None of this being very organised and putting them out early. Like the time, a decade ago Mum and I were away for Christmas and Dad put the presents out a day early. My brother was extraordinarily unimpressed and still to this day mentions how Dad did it all wrong. It’s funny how the things we grow up with still mean so much later in life and have become a family tradition, whether it makes sense or not!
I really enjoyed hearing about the Christmas traditions of others on the most recent My Open Kitchen podcast (series 2 episode 2). I listened whilst baking and it definitely got me thinking about my family’s traditions and got me feeling much more festive. If you have some time before the big day, I definitely recommend giving it a listen. I also really enjoyed Nigella Lawson’s ‘Seasonal Sound Bites’ Christmas podcast series. I never tire of listening or watching Nigella talk about food, and her eloquent musings on Christmas were definitely no exception.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and a great new year! Thanks for following along with my kulinary adventures this year, see you in 2017 - happy baking!
4 egg whites
250g golden caster sugar (or caster sugar)
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp maple essence
300 ml pouring cream
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 punnet red currants
4 small star shaped gingerbread biscuits, optional. I used this recipe, which will make about 70-80 small star shaped biscuits.
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, and trace a circle approx. 26 cm in diameter (I used a dinner plate).
In a clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites for 5-6 minutes, whilst gradually adding the sugar. Add the vinegar, vanilla and maple essence and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
Sift cornflour and spices over the mixture, and gently fold to combine.
Place mixture onto the tray in the middle of the drawn circle. Push the mixture around to form a circle, leaving a small border around the edges. Try to keep the edges a little higher than the middle so any filling can sit comfortably in the middle later.
Turn the oven down to 125 degrees Celsius, and cook undisturbed for 1.5 hours.
After 1.5 hours, turn the oven off and leave the pavlova to cool completely in the oven (or overnight).
If decorating as pictured you will need to create a gingerbread man stencil. Do so by tracing a medium/large gingerbread man biscuit cutter on to a piece of baking paper (big enough to cover the surface of the pavlova). Cut out the inside of the gingerbread man, so you are left with the piece of baking paper with a gingerbread man shaped hole in the middle.
Just before you are ready to serve the pavlova, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Fill the centre of the pavlova with the cream, and smooth the middle a little. Place the gingerbread stencil over the cream, with the gingerbread man centred in the middle of the pavlova. Carefully sift the cinnamon over the cut out, then carefully remove the stencil. Use three red currants to give the gingerbread man some buttons, then use the remaining red currants to decorate the rim on the pavlova (where the edge of the cream and pavlova meet). Add the gingerbread biscuits and serve.