Pavlova, the bloody patience cake

Nat, an irreverent Aussie internet sensation, is a comedian, rock musician, mental health advocate and award-winning, bestselling author. Already an online creator with a fan base in the hundreds of thousands for close to a decade, Nat’s What I Reckon rocketed into global prominence when he took the world by storm in early 2020 with his isolation cooking content.

Pavlova will never be the same again – just look at Nat’s creation. Legend. Photo supplied

I mean, do I really need to say anything here? It’s a pav, for goodness’s sake.

This is the BMX Bandits of cakes: chockers full of what I’m sure are Chrissytime memories of being surrounded by punishing relatives you wish you could escape, as well as bizarre and often overly expressive fruit arrangements on what is more or less a giant meringue. This stuff will muscle its way onto a shedload of Aussie Christmas dinner tables, and you just have to bloody eat it, okay?

So let’s make one that’s actually so sick it probably wears a backwards Monster Energy hat and does backflips on a jet ski.

SERVES: 6-8
COOKING TIME: a few hours
HECTOMETER: 6/10

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 egg whites from XL eggs (from a 700g box of a dozen; if you’re using small eggs then you need to use another egg white
  • 1½ cups (330g) caster sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for the cream
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • Fruit, to serve (berries rule but you can choose your adventure)

METHOD

Let’s just say that pavs are a little like snowflakes – they are delicate and have a range of structural integrity issues in their lives, just like we all do. I’m not saying you’re a pavlova, but maybe we can learn something from this calorie-dense dessert today.

Preheat your oven to 150ºC flan-forced (120ºC Normal Nathan style), and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Separate your egg whites from the yolks. There’s a whole book in explaining how to do that in so many ways, so let me make it simple for ya if you’re not great at it: wash your bloody grubby high-fivin’ hands, crack the eggs one at a time into one hand you’re holding over a bowl and separate your fingers just enough to let the white fall through into the bowl. Keep the yolks for some other stuff. I dunno. . . maybe make a yolk hat out of them? Or take them to an annoying yolk festival and buy it an itchy pair of hemp pants with heaps of small mirrors on them that make them look like a failed magician? The options are endless.

Now, with the egg whites we have a mission ahead. If you don’t have a stand mixer or an electric handheld mixer, then maybe consider buying some kind of growth hormone and start a seven-days-a-week #nodaysoff strength-training regime for a few years prior to beginning this recipe, ’cause your bloody arm is gonna get a work-out if you use a regular whisk, muscles. Trust me, I have made this pav with a whisk before, and while it is possible, I do l have a habit of finding things out the ‘hard way’, and that’s not often the best way, so finding easier routes to do this destination such as borrowing a beater/mixer of some sort would be a smart move.

Whatever option you’ve gone for, you’re gonna need to whisk/beater/hard way those egg whites into soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until your arm has bloody called the cops on you, then goes in the corn flour and vinegar in the same manner.

Keep whisking till all the bloody sugar has dissolved. If you’re wondering whether the big white bowl of calorie clouds has reached this stage, then use your fingers to squeeze a little between them and see whether it feels sandy or not. It shouldn’t.

Spoon your effort into the centre of the prepared baking tray, using a forklift, or if you don’t have one of those lying around then the back of a spoon will have to do in order to shape it into a thing. You want to make this pile of fluff look like a shape that resembles something along the lines of a seriously deep dish large pizza. I suppose like all food that you create, it’s moderately conceptual so there is no right or wrong way to shape it since it doesn’t really affect the flavour. I like to imagine the cheap supermarket mud cake kinda shape and go for that . . . seems to work well.

Okey dokey, Smokey. Drop that oven temp to 100ºC fan or 120ºC norms dogs, then place this hard work in the oven and cook for 1 hour-1 hour 15 minutes, until the outside is crispy and dry like something that’s crispy and also dry. Turn off the oven.

Now, this stuff is weird, but here goes: open the oven and let SOME heat out 5-10 seconds, then bloody close it again like, um, what? Yeah, close it and leave the pav in the residual heat for another bloody 2 HOURS MAAAATTTEEE!!! Yeah bloody 2 actual hours, otherwise it will crack which, to be totally honest, actually does nothing to the flavour but may wound your already worn-down patience at this time of year. So read the emotional room and go from there. Truly, what a lot of bloody carry-on nonsense for a stiff old meringue, right? It’s kinda worth it to old school flex at everyone later though . . . Or is it?

Nat’s What I Reckon is published by Penguin Random House
(RRP $40).

Now just ’cause you’re not over life enough at this point, why don’t you whip the thickened cream with the vanilla paste and teaspoon of sugar – a bloody slow, thankless task that may tip you over the edge if the rest of this bloody pav recipe hasn’t already. 45 years later you’ll have thick whipped cream and a cake that represents a great deal of patience, mental fortitude and calories.

Next, spoon the bloody stupid cream all over the meringue and go full ‘misunderstood artist’ on the fruit arrangement as if to suggest that no one appreciates what you’ve just been through because you only had a whisk and the thing ended up bloody cracking anyway, which doesn’t actually matter.

If only your therapist hadn’t gone on holidays, you would have managed heaps better.

Bugger Christmas and eat the whole thing to yourself, you bloody legend.