Over the years we have seen the humble birthday sponge grow and transform into all kinds of creative, sometimes elegant, sometimes whacky, designs. Now with social media these designs can go viral, trends are so quickly created and people will go wild for them. I don’t mind buying these cakes. Any kind of cake really and I do, I certainly do! But when it comes to special occasions, for a loved one, I especially love making the cake myself. I am a DIY type. I really enjoy having something creative to work on and you can’t beat the taste of a homemade cake, especially one made with love (a dash of sweat & perhaps a few tears!). So when that right occasion comes around, I pull out my cake tins, I’ll sit and watch cake-making video after video and with conviction I think to myself, ‘I can do that!’ So I delve knee deep into cake making and baking one of the latest in cake ‘trends’ and I have to admit even though I start to regret it sometimes (just because it’s usually not as easy as I thought!), more often than not, seeing the look on the face of the recipient…just that end result, makes it all worth it.
All these ‘trendy’ cakes aside, what I love baking most are the classics. Sponge, carrot, eclairs, lamingtons, pavlova…especially pavlova! If there’s ever an array of desserts on offer and pavlova is one of the options, hands down, I’ll go for the pav first! I love the crispy shell, the soft marshmallow-y inside and when it’s topped with freshly whipped cream and fresh fruits, it’s just perfect.
In Aus the pavlova is an iconic and very popular dessert. In fact, we love it so much that we believed for so long it was Aussie through and through. But in the background there was that old, long standing debate with our New Zealand neighbours over who really owns it. I do believe most Australians have now come to terms with the fact that the pavlova did originate in NZ.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a really fun pavlova making session with baker Katherine Sabbath and Kenwood. At the time Kenwood were celebrating the launch of the #kMixRecipeSwap challenge. As part of the challenge, Australia was taking on New Zealand and recreating the classic pavlova but with an Aussie twist.
This challenge got me thinking about what kind of twist I could put to this classic and one of my favourite cakes. Of course, and no surprise to many of you, I love playing around with Lebanese and Middle Eastern flavours so that’s the direction I went in! So with the advice and watchful eye of my eldest daughter, who now makes a better pav than I do, I came up with this…’The Lebanese Plate’ version.
So it’s with great pleasure that I introduce you to my ‘Desert Rose’ of cakes! I know you’ll love this spiced up nutty version as much as I do.
- 6 egg whites
- 330g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon rosewater
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup crushed walnuts
- 1/3 cup crushed pistachios
- 600ml cream for whipping
- 1/3 cup icing sugar
- fresh berries
- Preheat oven to 150°C.
- Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and mark 2 24cm-diameter circles on each baking sheet, leaving the ink mark facing down.
- Using a clean and dry electric mixer, whisk egg whites until soft peaks begin to form.
- Gradually add the sugar beating well between each addition. Keep beating until meringue is thick and sugar has dissolved.
- Add sifted cornflour and cinnamon. Then add vinegar and rosewater. Do not over beat from here.
- Remove bowl from mixer, add the crushed walnuts and pistachios and gently fold into mixture carefully.
- Spoon meringue mixture into marked circles on onto the baking paper, smoothing sides and top.
- Reduce oven temperature to 120ºC and bake pavlova for 1 hour or until it is dry to the touch.
- Turn off oven and leave pavlova in oven to cool completely. This may take up to 1 hour
- When the pavlova is completely cold, transfer to serving plate.
- Whisk the cream in a bowl until soft peaks begin to form. Add sifted icing sugar and whip until combined and cream has firm peaks.
- Spoon cream between each layer and fresh berries, figs and more crushed walnuts and pistachios.