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Forgotten Cake


Terrasanct
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I was looking in one of my spiral-bound cookbooks for some rhubarb recipes this morning and came across a recipe I'd never heard of before--it's called Forgotten Cake or some variation. This particular recipe is from the First Ladies' Cook Book, a national/Montana cookbook. It calls for 7 egg whites, cream of tartar, dash of salt, and sugar. It's put in a hot oven, the oven is turned off, and it's left overnight. After cooling, it's covered with whipped cream and fruit.

I've never made Pavlova, but it sounds like the same thing, or similar. But now I'm wondering if the meringue dessert known as Pavlova existed with another name or names before it was named after the dancer? Could it have been a recipe handed down in the US (and therefore included in this homey cookbook) or did people here start making it after it got famous in Australia and New Zealand? If so, why didn't they call it Pavlova?

I know it's a strange and obscure question, but that only leads me to believe that someone on egullet will know the exact answer to it.

I found the exact recipe online:

http://www.floras-hideout.com/recipes/reci...rgotten_Dessert

Edited by Terrasanct (log)
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Did she leave them in the oven a long time?

Yes, baked at a low temp for awhile (maybe an hour?), then the oven was turned off and left for at least two hours, I don't remember it being overnight, but possible. They were small, cookie-sized mounds, maybe 1/4 cup each, and would get crisp all the way through, even a little golden (not pure white like some meringues are supposed to be). My brothers and sister and I would try to get the ones with the most chocolate chips. We're from the West coast US, if geography matters.

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A few years ago a friend from Texas sent me a recipe involving egg whites. They were presented as part of an Easter Sory of the Resurrection. We had to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. I might have the recipe in my filing cabinet! But it sounds very much like what you have described.

Edited by prairiegirl (log)
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I was looking in one of my spiral-bound cookbooks for some rhubarb recipes this morning and came across a recipe I'd never heard of before--it's called Forgotten Cake or some variation.  This particular recipe is from the First Ladies' Cook Book, a national/Montana cookbook.  It calls for 7 egg whites, cream of tartar, dash of salt, and sugar.  It's put in a hot oven, the oven is turned off, and it's left overnight.  After cooling, it's covered with whipped cream and fruit.

I've never made Pavlova, but it sounds like the same thing, or similar.  But now I'm wondering if the meringue dessert known as Pavlova existed with another name or names before it was named after the dancer?  Could it have been a recipe handed down in the US (and therefore included in this homey cookbook) or did people here start making it after it got famous in Australia and New Zealand?  If so, why didn't they call it Pavlova?

I know it's a strange and obscure question, but that only leads me to believe that someone on egullet will know the exact answer to it.

I found the exact recipe online:

http://www.floras-hideout.com/recipes/reci...rgotten_Dessert

The only difference I can see between the recipe you linked to and pavlova, is that it says to cover with cream and store for at least four hours in the fridge. Pavlova on the otherhand is decorated with cream and fruit immediately prior to serving. The recipe certainly seems very similar. I wonder whether "The Old Foodie" has any ideas as to origin?

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This recipe also calls for frozen berries, which seems strange to me. I'm not quite sure why you'd use frozen ones if fresh were available. Wouldn't that make the entire thing soggy when they started defrosting? Of course if you put the cream on and let it sit, it seems it would already be soggy. Hmm. If any of you have had leftover Pavlova, how does the texture change overnight if it already has the cream on it?

I may have to do some experimentation on this.

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The lovely crunchy outside certainly goes soft if kept overnight. Of course, we don't usually have leftover pav. :biggrin:

Another thing to note is that it is usual to bake a pav on a flat tray in a circle shape as opposed to a pyrex dish or the like. This gives maximum crunch.

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Is there a traditional kind of berry to top it with? Or other things, like plums, rhubarb, or whatever?

My first husband had an Australian mother, and I learned about all kinds of interesting foods from her. This was one of them. I ate it somewhere when we were in Oz or NZ but it's been so many years I don't remember.

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Here is a blog post I did on "Pavlova"

January 31st …

The Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova was born on this day in 1885, so there is no difficulty guessing our topic today – ‘the pavlova, the sweet dessert’. There has been a longstanding battle between Australia and New Zealand as to who 'invented' the pavlova, with tempers getting quite nasty at times. This is my contribution to the war.

For those of you who need the clarification, a pavlova as defined by the OED is “a dessert consisting of a soft-centred meringue base or shell filled with whipped cream and fruit.” I would like it put on notice here that the OED, which should be absolutely non-partisan, has clearly allied itself with the “soft-centred like marshmallow” school of thought, in complete disregard for the very vocal opposition school that maintains a pavlova should be thoroughly dried and crisp throughout.

We have established then, that a pavlova is a form of meringue. Neither Australia nor New Zealand invented the meringue, because the meringue was invented before they were. As for meringue, it was not, repeat NOT ‘invented in 1720 by a Swiss pastry-cook called Gasparini, who practised his art in Mehrinyghen [hence ‘meringue’], a small town in the State of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.’ Even the venerable Larousse perpetrates this myth, in complete disregard for the fact that confections made from sweetened, stiffly-beaten egg whites appear in cookbooks printed well before that date. The earliest I can find appears in the recipe collection of Lady Elinor Fettiplace, which is dated 1604, which she calls White Bisket Bread.

To make White Bisket Bread.

Take a pound & a half of sugar, & an handful of fine white flower [flour], the whites of twelve eggs, beaten verie finelie, and a little annisseed brused, temper all this together, till it be no thicker than pap, make coffins with paper, and put it into the oven, after the manchet [bread] is drawn.

Note: this is clearly what we would call ‘meringue’, but Lady Elinor does not use the name. The first use that I am aware of (and I stand willing to be corrected) is in the cookbook of François Massialot, the first chef of Louis XIV (1638 - 1715). His book was published in 1692, and contained a chapter on “Meringues and Macaroons”. This is one of the recipes from the English translation of 1702.

Dry Meringues.

Having caus’d the Whites of four new-laid Eggs to be whipt, as before, till they rise up to a Snow, let four Spoonfuls of very dry Powder-sugar be put into it, and well-temper’d with a Spoon: Then let all be set over a gentle Fire, to be dried a little at two several times, and add some Pistachoes, that are pounded and dried a little in the Stove. Afterwards, they are to be dress’d as other, and bak’d in the Oven somewhat leisurely, with a little Fire underneath, and more on the top; When they are sufficiently done, and very dry, let them be taken out, and cut off with a Knife: Lastly, as soon as they are somewhat cold, let them be laid upon Paper, and set into the Stove to be kept dry.

So, should M.Massialot get the credit for ‘inventing’ the meringue, as the evidence is that he used the name first? Or, until an earlier manuscript turns up, should it go to Lady Elinor, on the principle that the concept is the thing, not the name?

Australia and New Zealand, we have established, did not invent the bisket-bread/meringue style confection itself. Did either of them actually invent the particular iteration which both now call the pavlova, or did one of them steal the name an apply it to a similar, but quintessentially different variation? Here we have the nub of the dispute. It is all in the name.

It is not my job here to take sides (although as I have pointed out elsewhere, NZ is the country that re-named the Chinese Gooseberry the Kiwi Fruit, in what was clearly an attempt to give it origin status), so I hereby give you the known facts/factoids in chronological order for you to make up your own minds.

1926: A cookbook printed in NZ called Cookery for New Zealand, by E. Futter contained a recipe ‘Meringue with Fruit Filling’. It was not, however, called Pavlova.

1927: The OED cites the first use of the word ‘pavlova’ in ‘Davis Dainty Dishes’, published by Davis Gelatine in NZ. It was ‘composed of coloured layers of jelly made in a mould resembling a ballerina's tutu’. Pavlova, as coloured jelly – I don’t think so!

1927: A group of Congregational Church ladies produced a cookbook called Terrace Tested Recipes, in Wellington NZ in 1927. One recipe was for ‘Meringue Cake’, which was made in two tins, the resulting two cakes being sandwiched together with cream and fruit, or serves as two cakes. Not called pavlova. Structure similar? Not the two layer one, certainly.

1929: Yet another NZ cookbook, Mrs. McKay’s Practical Home Cookery, had a recipe for ‘Pavlova Cakes’, the plural representing the three dozen little confections made from the mixture. This is hardly the same thing as a pavlova with the traditional filling/topping, now is it?

1935: The family of Herbert Sachse of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia have maintained a vigorous claim that he invented the dish to be served at afternoon tea, and commented (or someone did) that “It is as light as Pavlova”, and hence the name Sachse claimed in a magazine interview that he ‘improved’ a recipe for Meringue Cake he found in the Women’s Mirror Magazine on April 2, 1935 (which had been submitted by a NZ resident.

I guess the only way this dispute will get resolved is if we can come to a consensus as to what defines a pavlova, as distinct from a meringue or a meringue cake or a pavlova cake(s).

FOLLOW-UP: A NZ blogger , Bron Marshall at http://bronmarshall.com/?p=434 added her own knowledge to the picture, and in summary said that "pavlova" (so named) appeared in a NZ cookbook in 1933

""The recipe was submitted by a Laurina Stevens for the Rangiora Mother’s Union Cookery Book, it was called “Pavlova” - the correct name, the recipe was for one large cake and contained the correct ingredients, egg white, sugar, cornflour, and vinegar, and it had the correct method for cooking. This has been proven thanks to the research of Professor Helen Leach, of the University of Otago’s anthropology department. Prof Leach also uncovered a 1929 pavlova recipe in a New Zealand rural magazine which had the correct ingredients and correct method of cooking, however it was unfortunately published under a pseudonym."

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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The only difference I can see between the recipe you linked to and pavlova, is that it says to cover with cream and store for at least four hours in the fridge.  Pavlova on the otherhand is decorated with cream and fruit immediately prior to serving.  The recipe certainly seems very similar.  I wonder whether "The Old Foodie" has any ideas as to origin?

Unless you make it like my MIL does. She says hers is the New Zealand version.

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Is there a traditional kind of berry to top it with?  Or other things, like plums, rhubarb, or whatever?

My first husband had an Australian mother, and I learned about all kinds of interesting foods from her.  This was one of them.  I ate it somewhere when we were in Oz or NZ but it's been so many years I don't remember.

We usually serve pavlova with strawberries in season or banana or passionfruit (love the flavour, hate the seeds). Some people use frozen berries but that's because we have little access to fresh berries where I live.

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The only difference I can see between the recipe you linked to and pavlova, is that it says to cover with cream and store for at least four hours in the fridge.  Pavlova on the otherhand is decorated with cream and fruit immediately prior to serving.  The recipe certainly seems very similar.  I wonder whether "The Old Foodie" has any ideas as to origin?

Unless you make it like my MIL does. She says hers is the New Zealand version.

I wonder whether it fits in with the hard crunchy meringue inside vs soft squishy inside debate.

We prefer the hard meringue that much that we've taken to making individual circles of meringue to top with cream and fruit instead of a large pav.

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There's a lot of good information here, thanks.

Is there a NZ version and an Australian version? For that matter, the recipe I looked at doesn't have vinegar. What does that do? Is there also cream of tartar in those versions with vinegar?

Is this a fairly common dessert there? It certainly isn't here. I only remember being served it once, at an opera reception. It was very good.

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I grew up eating this cake, but we called it forgotten torte, and the recipe came from a Good Housekeeping Cookbook published in the sixties. It calls for meringue mixed with almond extract, and it's baked (well, placed in a turned-off, hot oven) in an angel food cake pan.

I don't see this as similar to a Pavlova, which offers more crust than frothy center. This cake is just the opposite, frothy center with just a bit of crust.

I would compare this more to a floating island, and if you served it in a pool of creme anglaise with some spun caramel on top, you'd get just that.

We topped it with sweetened whipped cream and strawberries. When made correctly, it's amazing -- sweet but amazing.

I recall Amanda Hesser wrote a story about forgotten cake in her Recipe Redux column a few years ago. Definitely worth a read.

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I was looking in one of my spiral-bound cookbooks for some rhubarb recipes this morning and came across a recipe I'd never heard of before--it's called Forgotten Cake or some variation.  This particular recipe is from the First Ladies' Cook Book, a national/Montana cookbook.  It calls for 7 egg whites, cream of tartar, dash of salt, and sugar.  It's put in a hot oven, the oven is turned off, and it's left overnight.  After cooling, it's covered with whipped cream and fruit.

I've never made Pavlova, but it sounds like the same thing, or similar.  But now I'm wondering if the meringue dessert known as Pavlova existed with another name or names before it was named after the dancer?  Could it have been a recipe handed down in the US (and therefore included in this homey cookbook) or did people here start making it after it got famous in Australia and New Zealand?  If so, why didn't they call it Pavlova?

http://www.floras-hideout.com/recipes/reci...rgotten_Dessert

Growing up mid-century in the midwest, no one had ever heard of Pavlova, but they served what you describe as "Baked Meringue". These were more or less crunchy throughout, and the ones I remember were served with strawberries and homemade vanilla ice cream.

When I opened my restaurant in the early 80s, I always had too many egg whites left from other recipes so I served Pavlovas often. Aside from the fresh fruit and liqueur versions, I served "pudding" versions. Take a cup of lemon, orange or lime curd and whip with one cup cream...whip cream with powdered sugar and cocoa (sort of a poor man's ganache?)...or top with butterscotch or another pudding of choice. Perhaps the most elegant one I ever served was with poached pears, fresh pineapple, kirch and candied violets; All these were decorated with whipped cream swirls, citrus slices, chopped nuts or whatever appropriate.

Notes on my recipe say that the marshmallowy texture of the Pavlova is due to the additions of lemon juice (or vinegar) and cornstarch. Another note says that I often made them days ahead! I used to keep the shells in Tupperware flat containers made for pies. The dessert was assembled about 2 hours before, and kept refrigerated until serving time.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Speaking an an Australian and a New Zealander, I can say I've eating a lot of pav (pavlova) in my time. Pavlova can be either crunchy all the way through or have a soft chewy inside. I'm partial to both but many people prefer one or the other. As mentioned above, they are covered in cream and fresh fruit. There is not a NZ v Australian version as far as I know but some people do add the vinegar to try and get a chewier centre - we'd still call it a pav though.

There seems to be plenty of methods of how people make the perfect pav. I've heard of people who whip the whites to hard peaks, stiff peaks or who leave the egg whites whipping for 45 minutes while they do they washing (that last ones not a joke and its probably the best pav I eat on a regular basis).

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I'd think the addition of a acid (vinegar, cream of tartar) in whipping the whites is to give a stronger, more voluminous meringue (since the acid denatures the albumen in the whites, causing them to be more stable and hold up more air). I think the soft vs crisp thing is a matter of baking time (thoroughly dried vs slightly moist in the center) as well as filling before serving and letting the moisture from the filling make the meringue soggy vs filling ala minute to preserve the crunch. Personally I bake until dry, then assemble and let sit -- that's the texture that I like the best.

One of the nicest ideas for pavlova I've seen is 5 different sizes and fillings on a stand as a wedding cake.

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My mother calls this dessert schaum torte and bakes two meringues (overnight method), one in a fairly deep spring form cake pan, and another as a flat circle on a cookie sheet. Once the meringue is dry she fills the first with a mixture of whipped cream and sweetened fresh fruit (usually strawberries or peaches) and then tops it with the second piece. She refrigerates it for some period of time (seems like a day), and then removes the spring form, serving the final dessert in slices as if it were a conventional layer cake.

The combination of sweet, tart, dairy, crunchy, and gooey (as some of the meringe gets gooey as it sits in contact with the cream and and fruit) is really lovely.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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