The Perfect Pavlova Recipe
The classic Aussie Pavlova...what's not to love?! A delicious combination of crispy outer meringue shell and soft marshmallow inside, topped with whipped cream and decorated with fresh fruit. Yum! And while there may be some debate over who actually created it (Australia vs New Zealand), I'm sure we can all agree, it's the perfect summer dessert to serve at an Aussie Christmas, BBQ, afternoon tea, morning tea, Australia Day celebration...or anytime, really!
Mastering the pav does seem a bit daunting at first, but trust me when I say, once you've made your own fresh pavlova, those sickly sweet store bought pavs will pale in comparison.
The trick to making the perfect pavlova is ensuring that your egg whites are at room temperature before whisking, otherwise you'll be struggling to get to the stiff peak stage with a nice glossy meringue. And please use only fresh "real" eggs (free-range/organic, if possible) - boxed egg whites, powdered eggs or egg substitutes have no place in the classic pavlova!
Oh, and if you're wondering why the recipe below calls for the inclusion of white vinegar, corn flour and vanilla, it's quite simple. The vinegar ensures the outside of the meringue crisps up nicely, the corn flour contributes to a beautiful marshmallow interior, and the vanilla ensures that there is no eggy smell! Happy pavlova baking and eating!
The Perfect Pavlova Recipe
6 (59g) egg whites (at room temperature)
1 1/4 cups (270g) Caster Sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
300ml thickened cream
2 tablespoons Pure Icing Sugar, sifted
Fruit to top - (strawberries, blueberries, passionfruit pulp, kiwi fruit etc)
Step 1: Preheat oven to 120°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Mark a 24cm-diameter circle on paper.
Step 2: Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar dissolved. Rub a little meringue between fingers. If still "gritty" with sugar, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until just combined. Spoon meringue onto the baking paper, using the marked circle as a guide. Smooth sides and top of pavlova. Use a small spatula to forms little peaks around edge of pavlova. Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours or until pavlova is dry to the touch. Turn off oven. Leave pavlova in oven with the door ajar to cool completely. When completely cold, transfer to serving plate or store in an airtight container until required.
Step 3: Use an electric mixer to whisk the cream and icing sugar in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spoon cream onto the top of pavlova. Decorate pavlova with fruit of your choice.
Use fresh eggs and separate your egg whites making sure you don't get ANY egg yolk in the whites. Ensure your egg whites are at room temperature before whisking, otherwise the meringue will not form into stiff peaks.
Use a metallic bowl and metallic whisk to whisk your egg whites.
Don't worry if after baking the top cracks/collapses - you'll be putting cream all over the top and this makes an excellent "glue" to hold everything together and disguise it, so you won't even notice!
If your meringue completely fails when whisking, do not throw it out! I've had instances where my egg whites weren't at room temperature so the meringue did not form into stiff peaks - simply pour into a lined round cake tin and bake if there's no way you could spoon onto baking paper. It will still taste great!
If after baking the perfect pavlova you accidentally break it lifting off the baking paper etc, turn it into an "Etons Mess" instead! Simply break the whole pavlova into pieces, mix with cream and fruit and serve in glasses!