Where Did It All Go Wrong

Rhiannon came to stay this weekend and that was as good excuse as any to attempt another pavlova. You may remember the first one, a Delia Smith concoction that ended up looking vaguely obscene due to a poor arrangement of strawberries. This time I did The Mothership' version. Her pavs were always perfect, but something went horribly wrong here. We followed her instructions to the letter but ended up with this squidgy chargrilled frisbee. The outside didn't crisp up at all. It looked and felt, as Rhi said, "a plastic dog turd from a joke shop."


I scraped it off the baking tray and Gareth briefly wore it round the house, toupee style. Now Rhi's gone back in London. Sniff…

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17 thoughts on “Where Did It All Go Wrong

  1. Did you fill it before you cooked it, or blast it under the grill?
    How disappointing, I’m so sorry – but it makes an impressively awful picture.

  2. What a disappointment! I always cook my pavs in a ‘very slow’ oven (120C) -use bottom element only. Better luck next time.

  3. did they get their name from pavlov’s dogs?

    could start a new scots word.. “watch you don’t step in that pavlova dear…”

    or ” hey you ya pavlova” for the neds…

    *still missing my wee pavlova machine*

  4. We definitely already have pavlova in Scotland… not that I’ve ever made it (my mum does, though).

    I feel for you on the diminishing returns, though. I didn’t tell you about the time recently when I tried to make fairy cakes and somehow added way too much baking powder, so they flowed all over the oven and turned into funny crispy chemical-tasting things, did I? (J still ate some of them.)

  5. i didn’t get a photo of the doctor in his pavhat… seriously regret that one.

    methinks our oven is just shithouse… cakes never bloody rise in it, either. then again maybe something went wrong in the mixing process, because it just didn’t crisp up… no shell at all… just pure squidge!

  6. Two things come to mind. Perhaps the MotherShip’s recipe is geared to a convection oven– a beast of very different stripes. Secondly, am suspecting the oven’s thermostat is fubar. Try giving it a good scrub, paying close attention to cleaning up the sensor bulb. Then get yourself a separate oven thermometer, set it on the rack/pan in the middle of the beast and experiment with common temperature settings. Does it really come up to, and hold 350F (or is yours reading 175C?). Try it at 250F/122C and at 400F/205C, too. Adjust your receipt accordingly. Measure everything. Ultraclean is needed for anything the eggs and batter will come in contact with — the slightest grease will act like a surfactant and “break” the egg white foam. If the oven hasn’t got a window, resist the desire to take a peak — it just costs you heat and results in the element firing up, which could account for the crispy critter that took residence on Gareth’s pate.

  7. wil! you are a smart cookie! now that i think of it, the mothership always cooked her pavlovas in a microwave oven – you know the ones that are microwaves but are also convection ovens. dual purpose baby! it was always deadly accurate with temperatures so cakes and pavs would always turn out perfectly.

    hmmmm… funnily enough our microwave is on its last legs too. must add microwave oven to xmas wishlist 😛

  8. My mum makes the best pavs too but mine never turn out the same. *sigh* Nice and edible but not quite as good.
    By the way, always use either a glass, stainless steel or copper bowl for the mixing because not matter how much you clean a plastic one it always retains a bit of grease. I’m sure you knew that already though.
    Hope the next attempt turns out fabulous.

  9. I have the same problem when I make Yorkshire Puddings. My mother makes the best ones in the whole world…whereas mine are always a total disaster, even using her recipe.

    How do they get them to rise and stay soft on the inside but crunchy on the outside – sounds just like a pavlova too doesn’t it!!

  10. making a pav is simple. all you have to do is make sure your mixing bowl & beaters are obsessively clean, & remember that you’re not cooking anything, you’re just drying it out, so keep the temperature very, very low. dry it out a lot & you will get pale coffee coloured meringue suitable for drenching in mixed berries & king island cream for a dessert of unsurpassed deliciousness. dry it out just a bit & you will get a lovely very slightly pink looking crust with horrible spongey stuff inside that looks & tastes like sweet whipped snot. some people like the latter. they are evil & must be avoided.

    if you put that pav in for the time in the recipe & got the abomination in the pic, looking like a charred omelet, your oven heat control is probably buggered, giving you a higher temperature than you think. either that or you’ve got an oven grill & accidentally turned it on.

  11. How fascinatingly unappetising. I agree that it must be your oven’s fault. I make pavlovas quite a lot in a very random way and they’re always fine. Did Rhi go back to London because of the charred pud?

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