The trick to getting pavlova off the baking tray

Individual pavlova with cream and raspberries is only one slip away from Eton mess.
Individual pavlova with cream and raspberries is only one slip away from Eton mess. Photo: Quentin Jones

How do I stop my pavlovas from sticking to the baking paper? A. Lamb

I was making Eton mess long before I knew what it was because I stuffed up so many pavlovas before I got the method right. I worked out that broken pieces of partially cooked meringue mixed with whipped cream and summer fruit made a good dessert. Aahhh, that feeling of snatching victory from the jaws of culinary defeat! Now, some pavlova recipes have you greasing the baking paper with vegetable oil or oil spray. I find that if you cook the pav for the prescribed time in the oven, then turn the oven off and leave it there for a further hour to dry out, the baking paper should easily peel away from the meringue.

Why don't we see turkey eggs in the shops? D. Hope

Michael and Cressida McNamara at Pecora Dairy in the NSW southern highlands.
Michael and Cressida McNamara at Pecora Dairy in the NSW southern highlands. Photo: Rob Homer

Turkeys have been domesticated and bred to put on weight. Laying hens have been bred for eggs. Chooks produce about 300 eggs a year. Turkeys produce fewer than 100 a year and their instinct is to become broody – that is, to sit on their eggs to hatch them. If you do get your hands on them, turkey eggs are perfectly fine to eat and bake but are 1.5 times larger, so any recipe will need to be adjusted. I have tracked them down online, but all are fertilised eggs ready for incubation.

How come Australian pecorino cheese can be made with cow's milk? R. Pearson

The name "pecorino" refers to a family of cheeses made from sheep's milk – pecora is Italian for sheep. They have been made for a good number of years – the ancient Romans used aged sheep milk cheese in their kitchens. Depending on its age, sheep milk cheese can be mild and creamy or hard like aged parmesan, with nutty, sweet flavours. In Italy some Protected Designation of Origin laws protect the manufacture of cheeses such as Pecorino Romano, which must be made from the milk of free-range ewes and can only be made in Lazio, Sardinia and the Province of Grosseto, in Tuscany. Cheesemakers in Australia are not subject to these European laws and there are no agreements in place to stop Australian cheesemakers following the same naming protocols. That said, there are some local cheesemakers producing some excellent aged sheep milk cheeses. Try the Yarrawa from Pecora Dairy in NSW or the Kongwak Reserve from Prom Country Cheese in Victoria.

Letters

In a recent column we discussed baking cakes in fan-forced ovens. J. Gardner responded, "The manual of my new European oven suggested against using the fan-forced function to bake cakes, but instead to use the upper/lower heat option. I did this and now I can no longer blame my cake failures on my oven." And when it comes to sterilising jars, one anonymous reader suggests, "The steam wand on a coffee machine is great to quickly sterilise jars for making small to medium amounts of passata as you go. Don't forget the lids and thread on the jar. About 30 seconds will do the trick."

Send your vexing culinary conundrums to brainfood@richardcornish.com.au or tweet to @realbrainfood.