My 11 year old son, Ilyas, is a determined fellow. Once he has his mind set on something, he’s got to do it. Fortunately, this time it was something quite innocuous. He just wanted to make something for his cousin’s birthday – something Australian and Somali, and preferably a meringue type cake, he said.
You can’t get more Aussie than a pavlova or as we call it here – pav. The challenge was to somehow appropriate this classic Australian dessert into something Somali! We hit on adding cardamom and yoghurt to give it that little twist.
There is an interesting story about the origins of this delicious cake. Both Australia and New Zealand claim ownership of the dessert. The truth is that no one knows who created the pavlova. The name and the recipe first began appearing soon after Russian prima ballerina, Anna Matveyevna Pavlova (1881-1931), toured both Australia and New Zealand in 1926 and Australia again in 1929.
In 2010, the Oxford English Dictionary waded into the controversy and ruled that the first recorded pavlova recipe appeared in New Zealand in 1927. Of course, the dictionary folk are only interested in the origin of the word, but I am sure they had some fun riling up the Aussies and New Zealanders! No doubt, the debate will continue especially now that we have muddied up the waters with the Somali appropriation of this wonderful dessert! Here is hoping that the pav will find its way into the Somali lexicon probably as ‘baf’ as we don’t have ‘p’ or ‘v’ in the Somali language!
The cake turned out to be a massive hit and was finished in one sitting and we have received requests for a repeat performance. Happy birthday, Faiza!
Recipe: adapted from Donna Hay, leading Australian food editor and best-selling cookbook author.
Cardamom, Yoghurt and Fruit Pavlova
150ml egg white (approximately 4 eggs)
1 cup (220g) caster (superfine) sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch), sifted
2 teaspoons white vinegar
½ cup (1250ml) single (pouring) cream
½ cup of thick Greek yoghurt
½ tsp. ground cardamom
250g mixed berries – strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
2. Place the egg white in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form. The mixture will have tripled in volume. Gradually add the sugar, whisking well, until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
3. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk until just combined. Shape the mixture into an 18cm round on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
4. Reduce oven to 120°C (250°F) and bake for about 50 minutes or until the meringue is well risen and set. The top should be quite crisp.
5. Turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.
6. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Add the yoghurt and ground cardamom. Spread over the pavlova, top with the mixed berries and serve immediately.