Anastasia Zolotarev's Pavlova With Crème Fraiche, Plums and Almond Flakes
Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, food writer, recipe developer and Masterchef Australia contestant Anastasia Zolotarev, shares her beautiful pavlova recipe.
Pavlovas are synonymous with celebrations in Australia and New Zealand. The traditional dessert is a festive delight, usually devoured messily at backyard get togethers, family barbecues and birthday parties, and a good one can stay in your mind for years to come.
The fragile crunch of meringue and its fluffy insides, layered with soft cream and juicy fruit, is really an experience all of its own. Treat your guests to a beautifully assembled pavlova and they'll savour the memory forever. Here, Anastasia Zolotarev shares her rendition of the classic sweet, topped with crème fraiche, plums, and almond flakes.
"Plums produce the most incredible sweet and sour rich flavour when cooked," Zolotarev says. "This pavlova base is a regular in my house as I normally cook it the day before having guests over. All I need to do then is top it with the delicious plum sauce in this recipe and a few other tasty ingredients."
As always, opt for what's in season or readily available in your region. You can use the same base recipe as below, and then swap the topping for blueberries, kiwi fruit and strawberries, or honey and figs. The choice is yours.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes in the oven, 2 hours cooling down time
For the base:
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 5 egg whites
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch of salt
- 200ml Crème fraiche
- 200ml double cream
For the topping:
- 6 x fresh ripe plums (3 for sauce and 3 for topping)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼-1/2 cup raw or brown sugar (use how much you prefer for sweetness)
- Small handful of Almond flakes
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Place the eggs whites and cream of tartar into a mixing bowl. Start mixing slowly, then increase the speed to medium until the mixture is light, fluffy and has increased a bit in size.
Continue to mix and add the sugar to the mixture 1 tbsp at a time, then add vanilla extract and salt. Increase the speed in increments until high.
The meringue is ready when it’s shiny, slightly glossy, silky, forms stiff peaks, and doesn’t feel grainy. If it’s still grainy then the sugar hasn’t dissolved yet, so keep whisking the mixture.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread the meringue mixture using a spatula or spoon into a round form that is approximately 3 cm in height with room for spreading.
Reduce the oven to 120 degrees and place the baking tray into the oven. Cook the pavlova at 120 degrees for 90 minutes.
Turn off the oven and, without opening the oven door, let the pavlova continue cooking for 60 minutes. Then open the oven door slightly and keep it open with the pavlova inside until it comes to room temperature. Then remove the pavlova and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the plum sauce. Slice 3 plums into quarters, removing the seed. Place into a pot along with the sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, on medium-high heat until the plums have completely softened, approx. 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool then place into fridge until using.
Combine the crème fraiche and double cream together, folding with a spatula or mixing through with a fork. Add the vanilla extract. Slice the other 3 plums into thin wedges, discarding the seeds.
When you're ready to serve, assemble the pavlova. Spread the cream on top of the cooled pavlova base, followed by the sauce, the fresh plums, and the almond flakes.
It’s a good idea to prepare the pavlova base in the morning or the day before so that all you have to do when your guests arrive is layer it with the toppings!
For more from Anastasia, follow her at @anastasiazolotarev.