Pavlova - History of Pavlova

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Pavlova (pav-LOH-vuh) - The Pavlova consists a base made of a meringue crust topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits such as kiwis (the fruit!), strawberries, etc. It is considered a fresh fruit pie with a meringue crust.

Pavlova Cake
Photo from Fabulous Foods website

No one knows who first created the Pavlova.  But the name and the recipes 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. Anna Pavlova was considered the greatest ballerina of her time and her visit to New Zealand has been described as "the chief event of 1926." It was said "She does not dance; she soars as though on wings." From this you get the sense that this is a light, airy dessert.

There is a conflict between both Australia and New Zealand. While it has been suggested this dessert was created in New Zealand, it has also become recognized as a popular Australian dish. Both countries claim to have invented this dessert and claim it as their national dish.


- Keith Money, a Pavlova biographer, wrote in his 1982 book Anna Pavlova: Her Life and Art that a chef at a hotel in Wellington, New Zealand created the dish when Pavlova visited there in 1926 on her world tour. The hotel chef invented was inspired by her tutu, draped in green silk cabbage roses.  The basic shape of the tutu was provided by a meringue case, while the froth of the skirt's net was suggested by whipped cream.  To achieve the effect of the green roses the enterprising chef used slices of kiwifruit, then known as Chinese gooseberries. 


In New Zealand, a cookbook published in 1926 by E. Futter titled Home Cookery for New Zealand contained a recipe for "Meringue with Fruit Filling." Although the name Pavlova is not used, the recipe is similar.


- According to Volume III (published in 1982) of the supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary to the first published reference to a "Pavlova" was contained in "Davis Dainty Dishes" (sixth edition) published in 1927 by Davis Gelatine New Zealand Ltd. This recipe for pavlova included gelatin.


- In New Zealand, a cookbook published in 1929 by E. Futter titled Home Cookery for New Zealand contained a recipe for “Meringue with Fruit Filling.” Although the name Pavlova is not used, the recipe is similar. Because of this recipe, New Zealanders claim to have originated the recipe. They say that the Australians used this recipe and called it Pavlova.


The famous ballet dancer Pavlova

1935 - According to chef Herbert (Bert) Sachse of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia, the dessert was originally created as a tea dessert for the Hotel’s afternoon teas. According to the Paxton family legend, the Pavlova was named at a meeting at which Sachse presented the now familiar cake. The family say that either the licensee, the manager, or chef Sachse remarked, It is as light as Pavlova.” It was then named Pavlova after the great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who had been a guest of the hotel during her 1929 tour of Australia. In 1973, Herbert Sachse stated in a magazine interview that he sought to improve the Meringue Cake recipe that he found in the Women’s Mirror Magazine on April 2, 1935. The recipe was contributed by a New Zealand resident.

"In 1973 at the Victoria Hotel, we had an evening chef who was superb. He was an 80 year old man of Greek extraction. His name was Nick. He told us that he had worked at the Esplanade Hotel, in Perth, as a very young apprentice chef. He worked in the kitchen of the Esplanade Hotel with the head chef at the time the Pavlova was invented there. My husband John and I were general managers of the Victoria Hotel and Nick was an outstanding chef. He often made Pavlovas especially for us and our kids as special treats. - Marlene Harding Perth Western Australia (10/5/14)



Pavlova, Pass the Pav.

Whipping is Pavlovian, by Glen Ralph, an internet web site.


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