“Nobody likes rude children.”
“Everybody likes a good pav.”
I think of Mum’s words frequently (she does mention them from time to time). The first rang in my ear at the supermarket when a fellow shopper smiled at my singing son (national anthem in Maori on top of his lungs). He hollered directly at her, nice and clearly, “hello bum bum”. I gave her that ‘ah oh’ kind of smile and she responded knowingly.
Why do three little letters and one body part cause so much offence? I’m not sure anyone would think twice if he yelled ‘arm arm’ or ‘leg leg’.
I’ve decided to take a reasonably relaxed approach to the common bum bum phase. I found out quickly that the louder and more disapproving I got, the worse he got. I am beginning to wonder if we feed boys love of toilet humour? Perhaps all the tutt-tutting from parents, teachers and grandparents encourage the child further?
Friends with older boys have always wisely advised me to pick my battles as it will get worse before it gets better. So I stay calm, distract him, and try to think of things to say other than ‘no no no’.
It might not be everyone’s solution but I’m reasonably confident that he won’t turn into a gun-toting meth taking lunatic because I’ve decided to stay measured over this one.
Moving now to Mum’s stomach orientated quote. Mum rolls out a pavlova at most whanau dos – and usually I bypass it. Not because I don’t like the sweet gooey marshmallow texture. I do. But because whipped cream is not my thing and there is usually at least 10 other desserts to choose from (we’re a dessert sort of family).
Mum doesn’t have ‘a’ recipe though – as she’s always trying out a new pavlova recipe. Who would have thought that two basic ingredients could turn out so many differing results.
It’s been years since I gave pav a go. After a request from a follower (yes sisters, more than you three read this) and with my sister-in-law coming for Mother’s Day lunch, I thought it appropriate to take a leaf out of Mum’s book.
Most pavs call for the addition of sugar slowly. I know that Ruth Pretty shoves everything in together and beats it for the best part of a day. Only kidding, but last time I made Ruth’s divine meringues, I blew up my old Sunbeam – his motor didn’t have the staying power to beat on high for however long it was. Of course, now with Kenny, anything is possible. The main thing with meringue of any sort is that the sugar is completely dissolved – so you either beat the sugar in slowly spoon by spoon or put it in at once and beat for quite a long time.
What you’ll need
4 egg whites (I use size 7)
240g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon cornflour, sifted
To make it
Heat oven to 200 degrees celsius (not fan). Place a piece of baking paper on to a (flat, non dented) oven tray. Mark out a 19cm circle and turn the paper so that the pen mark is against the tray (but you can see it through the paper).
Using an electric mixer – or Kenny – beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form.
Add all the caster sugar in a steady stream, while the beater is on (watch how you do this and try not to have the sugar hit the beaters or it will fly everywhere).
Turn the beater to high speed until the mixture thickens and the sugar has completely dissolved. I used the whisk attachment on Kenny and it took around 15 minutes. It needs to reach the ribbon stage – when a spoonful of the meringue mixture poured back into the bowl sits on the surface like a ribbon. Once or twice, I did wipe down the edges of the bowl with a spatula to ensure all sugar was mixed in.
Slow down the beater, add the vinegar and cornflour, and beat on slow until combined in (maybe 10 seconds).
With a teaspoon, pop a little of the mixture under each corner of the baking paper so it sits still on the tray. Using a large metal spoon, heap the mixture on to the prepared tray evenly. It will spread, so I usually go inside the marked circle. Do this quite quickly as you want to get it in the oven.
Place the tray in the middle of the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 120 degrees celsius. Cook for about 80-90 minutes.
When completely cold, decorate. I’d keep it in an airtight container until an hour or two before you serve and decorate it. You can make the day before and leave airtight till you need it.
A few tips when making pavs:
- egg whites should be at room temperature
- ensure there is no yolk in your egg whites and that your beating bowl is very clean and dry
- it’s hard to get a good result in humid climates
I give my result 8/10. A crunchy outside and soft inner. It wasn’t quite as high as I’d like it to be (probably because my marked circle was too large begin with). The shell did have a few cracks, but it was the best pavlova I’ve ever made and didn’t sink upon cooling as many do. I’ll be making it again – I might even challenge Mum to a pav-off.
On the toddler front, I’ve decided I can live with the odd bum bum – after all, we’ve all got one – some of us larger than others. And most of the time he tells me that he loves me “heaps and heaps”.