The History of Pavlova

What is a Pavlova?

The pavlova is an airy dessert that is comprised of a meringue shell that is topped with both fruit and whipped cream. It has originated from Australia and the country is still well known for this dessert.

New Zealanders tend to disagree on this matter.

This recipe is for a jelly with multiple layers.

There is a bit of a sibling rivalry between these two countries. They like to argue a bit about who will get credit for originating in their country, including the racehorse named Phar Lap, and Russell Crowe. One of the biggest disputes is about exactly how pavlova came about. This dessert is affectionately called “pav”, and the truth is that both of the countries likely are wrong about its origins.


Pavlova is said to be named after the famous ballerina from Russia, Anna Pavlova. She toured throughout New Zealand and Australia in 1926. New Zealanders will tell you that a chef at the Wellington hotel put together this dessert to honor Anna. It is said that her tutu inspired is design. Australians will tell you that it was invented at a Perth hotel and that it was a diner who stated that the dessert is as “light as Pavlova”.

In truth, there have been many dishes named after Anna Pavlova. This is because she was a beloved star.

The first recipe of pavlova actually was not a meringue. In the Oxford English Dictionary, it states that there was a pavlova dessert in a cookbook from 1927 that is called Davis Dainty Dishes. This book was put out by the Davis Gelatine company of New Zealand. This recipe is for a jelly with multiple layers. Even with the confusion, New Zealanders say that it is merely enough that there is a recipe called pavlova that clearly comes from New Zealand (at its first mention).

Pavlova cake
Pavlova is one of the most delicious desserts around.

There has been researching done recently that suggests that pavlova actually has roots in America and Germany. Annabelle Utrecht and Dr. Andrew Paul Wood found evidence of more than 150 recipes for desserts that look just like pavlova, even before Anna Pavlova visited down under.

No matter what you believe about its origins, you have to admit that pavlova is one of the most delicious desserts around.


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