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the origins of the pavlova

The Origins of the Pavlova

Pavlova is one of the most popular and widely consumed desserts in Australia and New Zealand. There have been passionate debates about where this dish originated from because Australians consider the dessert theirs while New Zealanders claim that they created the first Pavlova. This debate has raged on for several years, but now evidence suggests that the dessert in its most recognisable avatar might have originated somewhere else entirely.

When was it Introduced?

Until recently, it was believed that Pavlova was created at around 1926 when the famous ballerina Anna Matveyevna Pavlova toured Australia and New Zealand. She was a true celebrity, admired and adored by all wherever she went. The people here were just as enthralled as the world and showed their appreciation in different ways. Both New Zealanders and Australians claim that a chef residing in the country created the popular dessert in her honour.

New Zealanders say that the chef at the Wellington Hotel was inspired by her tutu and wanted to create something billowy. Australians say that a chef in an establishment in Perth invented the dish and it was named Pavlova when a diner claimed it to be as light as the famed ballerina.

The first time a dish named Pavlova was mentioned in a book, it was a multi-layered jelly rather than a fluffy meringue. New Zealanders say that this was proof that Pavlova was created by them but the Australians disagree. They state that the New Zealanders can take credit for the name but the dish was created by an Australian chef.

Neither of them are Winners

Recent investigations by researchers Annabelle Utrecht and Andrew Paul Wood of both countries suggest that the dessert might not have been created in Australia or New Zealand. In fact, they see evidence that the dessert has its origins in Germany and America. They researched and investigated for two years and browsed through hundreds of recipes to trace the true origins of this much-loved dessert.

According to their research, there were 150 recipes for Pavlova-like desserts published well before the ballet dancer even arrived in Australia and New Zealand. In fact, they indicate that the dessert might be much older and created well-before Anna Pavlova was born.

A Brief look at History

The history of the Pavlova is very interesting because the dessert is better travelled than people realise. The research suggests that Pavlova can be traced back to a pretty cream, fruit, and meringue torte named Spanische Windtorte. This dessert was very popular in the 18th century and was particularly loved by the Austrian Habsburgs. The general recipe travelled to America with German immigrants that settled in the Midwest. Once it landed on American shores, it was developed further. When the hand-cranked egg beater was invented in the 1800s, recipes with meringue become more popular because they were now easier to make.

The researchers found hundreds of variations of Pavlova-like desserts in American cookbooks during this period. They believe that it’s possible the recipe travelled to New Zealand and Australia on the back of a cornstarch box. Pavlova requires cornstarch to create the marshmallow-like texture inside the meringue; around the time the desert was first mentioned in these countries, cornstarch was imported from America.

They believe that manufacturers might have printed the recipe on the back of the box as a good way to use cornstarch. Manufacturers still follow this practice and print good recipes that use the ingredients they produce.

The researchers agree that New Zealanders or Australians might be responsible for naming this dessert Pavlova and keeping it alive over the years. All other variations of the dessert have faded in time and are no longer popular. At Ganache Patisserie you will find mouth-watering Pavlovas and other delicious, scrumptious gourmet tarts  and goodies.

Thanks for reading,
Ganache Patisserie
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