The two people who can justifiably claim to be the world experts on the subject are New Zealander Dr Andrew Paul Wood and Australian Ms Annabelle Utrecht. They have spent nearly two years researching for a book and possible documentary about the origins of the dish, in a collaboration called The Doc and the Frock.
Wood and Utrecht have pronounced that the format of the dessert (meringue topped with cream and fruit) was not invented in Australia or New Zealand, but probably had its origins in Austria, making its way to America where a recipe even appeared on packets of cornstarch. But it wasn’t called Pavlova. The New Zealanders can perhaps claim credit for uniting the cake with its name, as a ‘Pavlova Cake’ recipe appeared in N.Z Dairy Exporter Annual in October 1929. Sachse’s only claim to fame, then, is dropping the word ‘cake’.
So the controversy seems to hinge on the name. Sachse wasn’t the first to name a dessert simply ‘Pavlova’. He wasn’t the first to create a meringue shell filled with whipped cream and topped with fruit. He wasn’t even the first to associate said meringue with the Russian ballerina. However, he was the first to simply call that particular dish just ‘Pavlova’. And, as Aussies, we’ll have to be satisfied with that.