Happy Australia Day

This weekend on the 26 January is Australia Day, the national public holiday day in Australia. It commemorates and celebrates the arrival of the first fleet when eleven ships from Great Britain first landed in Sydney Cove (now Circular Quay).

There are lots of activities you can do Australia-wide but the funniest activity I think is the Australia Day Thong Challenge in Bondi Beach. Australian summers are hot and the most versatile “shoe” is the thong (in other countries known as flip flop). They haven’t been invented here, in fact the most popular ones are Hawaianas but it’s safe to say that almost every Australian owns at least a pair.

A picnic at the beach or the local park is also a favourite pastime on this important day and usually everyone will bring a plate and just enjoy summer. A true blue dish to have would be a pavlova. A meringue base topped with fluffy cream and fresh fruits. Absolutely delicious and very popular.

This dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the Russian ballet dancer during one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. However the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years. But let’s not get caught up in this.

This recipe makes you small individual pavlovas which are easier to carry around. Make sure to keep the cream as cold as possible.

6 eggwhites
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
300 ml cream
2 punnets raspberries
4 passionfruits

Preheat the oven to 150°C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Use an electric mixer to whisk the eggwhites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar is dissolved. Rub a little meringue between your fingers, if it’s still gritty, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add the vinegar and cornflour and fold until just combined.

Place 4 dollops of meringue on each baking tray, making a shallow indent in the centre of each with the back of a spoon.

Place in oven, reduce heat to 120°C and bake for 1 hour. Leave in the switched-off oven for 2-3 hours until meringues are dry and oven is completely cool. (They’ll keep for up to 2 days in an airtight container.)

Whisk cream until soft peaks form. Dollop cream on top of meringue nest and top with raspberries and passionfruit. Serve immediately.

Australia Day Pavlova - s'more