Multi Cultural Cuisine - What is your favourite?

Do you love desserts?

Let’s take a deep sweet dive into the delicious Black Forest cake and the evergreen Aussie (and yes, it’s also NZ renowned) iconic Pavlova!

We would love to know your favourite …

I’ve always had something of a sweet tooth ever since I can remember from cakes to slices to lollies and everything else in between. Here we’ll focus on two popular treats, the German Black Forest cake and an Aussie favourite the Pavlova.

Black Forest cake

Contrary to popular belief the origins of the Black Forest cake is not directly attributed to the Black Forest itself, which is Germany’s largest continuous forest. Rather, one theory is that it derives from the popular traditional ingredient kirsch or cherry brandy, distilled from tart cherries and a specialty of the region. Another suggestion is that its inclusion of whole red cherries links it back to the popular red pom-poms worn as part of the traditional headdress of the women of that region. Yet another claim is that the ‘black’ appearance of the cake reflects the light deprived areas of the forest itself. 

However unclear the true origins of the term, the Black Forest cake typically consists of alternating layers of chocolate sponge cake traditionally soaked in kirsch (cherry) brandy and cream plus cherry pieces topped off by further whipped cream and whole cherries and that cannot be anything other than scrumptious!

The origins of the cake’s creator is a little more clouded with some historians claiming it was invented by the confectioner Josef Keller in 1915 whilst other references indicate it can be traced back to 16th Century Europe with Keller being credited for popularizing the treat.

A couple of fun facts, one that the world record for the largest Black Forest cake was set in Germany in 2006, weighing in at over 3,000 kilograms! Another is that whilst these days rum or other alcoholic substitutes can be used, German law requires that any cake designated as a ‘Black Forest Cherry Cake’ must contain the traditional cherry brandy.


The most common belief for the name Pavlova is attributed to the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during one of her tours of Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s, although that has been disputed. What is less clear is who actually ‘invented’ this popular treat as it is a hotly disputed fact to this day between New Zealanders and Australians, although the first known reference to the ‘Pavlova’ cake has been dated back to 1926 in Sydney, even though this treat does not resemble the modern meringue-based creation. Yet other research claims the origins of a meringue-based cake including cream and fruit dates back to an Austro-Hungarian dessert of the 1800s with the technology being transferred to Australia and New Zealand via German immigrants from the United States.

However unclear the true origins of the Pavlova, Australia and New Zealand have embraced this desert like no other countries! The ‘classic’ Australian version typically consists of a ‘crunchy’ meringue with the marshmallow like interior with a topping of cream and passionfruit or occasionally other fruit such as strawberry, whereas the New Zealand version has a softer meringue exterior with cream and kiwi fruit slices. The meringue itself typically consists of a combination of egg whites, castor sugar, vinegar, cornflour and vanilla extract that is then oven baked.

Having said that the toppings for a Pavlova are almost limitless, ranging from banana to pineapple to blueberries to chocolate to Turkish delight, in addition to cream substitutes such as mascarpone. One fun fact is that as recently as 2018 the world’s largest Pavlova was created by a Norwegian group, measuring in at a whopping 85 square metres!

Have you got an ideal Black Forest cake or Pavlova ‘recipe’ or idea of what – for you – would be the perfect version of either of these desserts?

We at AMCCU would love to read about your thoughts on these two iconic desserts, so please feel free to respond below! We would love to hear from you!

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AMCCU acknowledges the traditional custodians of the country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection and protective commitment to land, water and community. We pay our respects to them and their deep-rooted cultures, and to their Elders past, present and emerging.


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