The famous pavlova is a meringue based dessert topped with cream and fresh fruits named after the famous Russian Ballerina Anna Pavlova. It is crisp on the outside and has a soft, marshmallow inside. Making a pavlova isn’t very difficult. If you’ve never baked before, you might find it a little intriguing. If you’ve made meringues before, this is nothing new.
Before you skip this and move on to the ingredients and method, I advice you to read the information which follows this sentence to get a perfect pavlova.
- Make sure your glass bowl or the bowl of the stand mixer is absolutely clean, dry and without any grease. Grease will prevent the egg whites from whipping to the full extent.
- Very fresh eggs are not that ideal because the egg whites are thicker in fresh eggs when compared to eggs which are 3-4 days old. Slightly old eggs whip to a greater volume and make sure your eggs are at room temperature.
- The usage of vinegar is because it stabilizes the egg whites and thus holds the shape while baking.
- You need very fine sugar for making a pavlova. If you use a grainy sugar, your sugar won’t dissolve completely in the mixture. Undissolved sugar leads to “weeping” which is because moisture will form on the meringue.
- A good way to check if your sugar has dissolved, is to take a small amount of the mixture in a finger and rub it with another finger. If it feels grainy, you have to beat it a bit more.
- Many people tend to over whip the mixture. At any case, you shouldn’t whip the mixture for more than a maximum of 15-16 minutes.
- Pavlova and meringues are generally on the sweeter side. Usually recipes call for 1 cup of sugar for 4 egg whites which I find is too much sugar. My recipe states 3/4 cup, which is sweet but not like sugar coating your mouth.
- Conditions like temperature, quantity and quality of egg whites used, age of the egg, humidity, altitude, all affect the end product. It is over a few experiments that you achieve a perfect pavlova for your particular climatic condition.
- Many people think the egg whites remain uncooked in the centre as the centre is soft. But no, what they are referring to is the marshmallow centre which naturally should be soft for a pavlova. There is no chance of undercooking because the pavlova cooks for nearly 1 and half hours.
- There is a constant debate about the cooking time. But after a lot of research and testing, I have found that 120°C is a perfect temperature.
- Every pavlova gets cracks. A few cracks here and there shouldn’t alarm you as long as the pavlova retains its shape.
- Once the pavlova is cooked, leave the over door slightly open and let it cool undisturbed for a minimum of 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. This will help the pavlova to retain its crunchy texture on the outside and also prevents it from collapsing.
The very base of the recipe is egg white. Although you will never taste the egg whites, you will get a slight smell which alarms quite a few people and they hesitate to eat this. If that is the case, you may refrain from making. Now since I’m done giving all my tips and advice, let’s get onto the recipe itself. 🙂 As the meringue base is quite sweet, I like to use passion fruit. But sometimes I swap the passion fruit with fresh strawberries or even a mixture of berries. You can also use kiwi, mango but I prefer to use a fruit which is slightly acidic so that it cuts through the sweetness.
- Large eggs- 4; room temperature
- Salt- a pinch
- Caster/superfine sugar- 3/4 cup or 168 grams
(Note– if you don’t have caster sugar, add the sugar to a food processor and process until super fine or even powdery)
- White vinegar/ white wine vinegar- 1 teaspoon
- Cornstarch/ Cornflour- 2 teaspoons
- Pure vanilla extract- 1 teaspoon
- Passion fruits- 2; halved
- Whipping cream/ Heavy cream- 150 ml (I like a little less cream but you can go ahead and add more)
Preheat oven to 150°C. Measure 4 inches with your compass and draw a circle. The circle should measure nearly 8 inches. Turn the paper and place the paper on the baking tray (square/round). The turned side should face you. Trim off the excess paper which may hang over the sides of the baking tray. Separate your egg whites from the egg yolks. Make sure you don’t get any of the egg yolk into the egg white. Add the egg whites to a clean, dry bowl along with a pinch of salt. Whip the egg whites using a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer in medium speed for 2 minutes or until soft peaks form. Once you reach the soft peak stage, add the sugar one tablespoon at a time while whisking constantly at a medium-high speed. Make sure each tablespoon of sugar completely dissolves in the egg whites before adding the next. Continue whisking for 10 minutes or until you get a thick, glossy mixture and all the sugar has melted. Add the vinegar, sift the cornflour and whisk for a few seconds, until combined . Spoon the the meringue onto the baking paper and shape it, keeping it within the circle. Smooth it out and make a nice, clean circle.
Optional– You can make little peaks using the spatula to make it look nice.
Keep the meringue base in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 120°C and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until the base of the pavlova lifts off easily from the parchment paper. (If you lift to check, which I usually don’t, place it back on the paper and return to oven for the cooling process). The outside will be crisp. Turn off the oven, leaving the oven door slightly open by keeping a wooden spoon in between and allow the meringue base to cool in the oven for a minimum of 1 and half to 2 hours.You can open to check it occasionally but I prefer to open the door completely only after 2 hours. Once completely cooled, gently place it over the cake stand or the serving plate.
Whip the cream till you attain semi stiff peaks. Fold in the vanilla extract. Smear the whipped cream over meringue.
Top it with passion fruit or your desired fruit and serve. Be careful while cutting as the outside will be really crisp and make sure you use a sharp, big knife. 🙂