Have you been invited to a friend’s Saturday BBQ in Catalonia, and want to bring that most iconic of Australian desserts, the pavlova?
Never actually cooked pavlova before, not even with the help of your mum? Never fear! Simply follow these easy steps…
Thursday afternoon. Ask around for a electric beater. No need to look up the name in Spanish (it’s batidora), just send a picture of an electric beater to a couple of people asking, do you have one of these?
Friday afternoon, 5pm. Borrow your friend’s mother-in-law’s electric beater.
Friday night, 9:30pm. Check a pavlova recipe for the first time. Realise you should make the meringue tonight.
9:32pm. Set the oven to 120ºC (in your 30ºC apartment).
9:35pm. Make sure you have enough (6) eggs. Take them out of the fridge to warm up because apparently they beat better if they are at room temperature.
9:37pm. Remember that meringue requires super fine castor sugar, an item you are yet to find in any supermarket in Catalonia.
9:40–10:10pm. Crush one (1) cup of regular sugar in small batches using the decorative mortar and pestle that is actually used for making aioli. Don’t forget to get sugar everywhere.
10:15pm. Get impatient waiting for the eggs to warm up. Separate your condensation-covered eggs, putting the whites into the one large bowl that you own, a wide silver salad bowl. Try not to get too much yolk into the whites, although surely a little bit is OK.
10:20pm. Start beating the eggs, ignoring the rattles and the slight burning smell coming from the beater. Beat until soft peaks sort of form sort of.
10:25pm. Slowly add sugar, beating each time until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is a soft and glossy soup.
10:35pm. Turn beater up to maximum speed in the hope that it will make the egg whites form soft peaks. Or hard peaks. Or any kind of peaks.
10:37pm. Google “how to cook meringue” with your free hand.
10:39pm. Realise that the little bit of yolk and/or the sweaty eggs and/or the wide salad bowl might not be helping your cause. Meringue is actually pretty hard to cook.
10:44pm. Panic. Throw in a bag of hot chocolate powder and the seven (7) almonds you found in the cupboard.
10:50pm. Pour brown, glossy soup mixture into a small tin, and pop in the oven.
11:35pm. Check mixture – it has a hard crunchy top. Feel elation! Maybe you’ve just invented a new dessert, a sort of meringue-mousse-cake?
11:50pm. Take meringue-mousse-cake out of the oven, and turn over to cool. Note that all seven almonds have pooled together in the centre of the meringue-mousse-cake, owing to your poor-quality dish and the viscosity of the baking mixture.
11:51pm. Taste the meringue-mouse-cake.
11:52pm. Repeat sulking step until bedtime.
Saturday morning, 10am. Head to the supermarket, market and bakery and collect 500ml of whipping cream (nata para montar), 1kg of fruit (even though you only asked for a handful) and ten (10) almendrados, meringues filled with almonds.
PRO TIP: Just go directly to the last bakery in town, that is the only one that has them.
11:30am: Whip cream with any left-over bashed sugar, using the same salad bowl. Transfer cream to an old yoghurt container halfway through to stop covering the kitchen with cream.
12pm: Chop fruit.
12:45pm: Pack chopped fruit, cream and almendrados in a bag.
1pm: Go to the BBQ.
1:05–4:55pm. Enjoy delicious food, wine, conversation and sun with your friends.
5pm: Assemble your Catalan Pavlova, and serve.
Saturday, three weeks later: Remember the meringue-mousse-cake is still in the fridge…