A traditional Pavlova has a lovely tall meringue base that’s crunchy on the outside, but soft and fluffy on the inside. It is then loaded with whipped cream and a fruit which is slightly tart, so we’ve topped ours with beautiful blushing red summer strawberries. We’ve included plenty of tips and tricks in the method so you will always end up with a perfect Pavlova!
Makes 10-12 Portions
For the meringue
5 egg whites, room temperature
275g caster sugar
2½ tsp cornflour, plus extra for dusting
1½ tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
For the topping
500ml double cream
400g strawberries, rinsed, trimmed and halved
Icing sugar to dust
Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F/gas 2. Trace a 20cm (8inch) circle onto the back of a piece of parchment paper, then flip it over and use to line a baking sheet.
Tip: We also like to cut out an extra 23cm (9 inch) parchment paper circle, this will help when moving the meringue to your serving dish.
Tip: Before starting with the meringue, make sure your bowl (should be glass or metal) is scrupulously clean. Any small amount of fat or grease left in the mixing bowl can cause the egg whites not to whisk up properly, or at all, so give it a good wash in warm soapy water before-hand, or you can even rub the inside of the bowl with paper towel dipped in lemon juice. This goes for your whisk attachment as well.
To make the meringue, pour the egg whites into a large bowl and start whisking on slow speed, when they’re looking frothy, gradually speed up until soft peaks have formed that just hold their shape, about 10 minutes.
Increasing to high speed (medium high if using a powerful mixer), slowly add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until peaks are firm and glossy.
Tip: It’s important to add the sugar slowly so that it can dissolve completely, so this process can take up to 15 minutes.
To make sure the sugar has been whisked in completely, rub a bit of the beaten egg whites between your thumb and finger, if you can feel any grains of sugar, carry on whisking the egg whites until sugar has been dissolved.
Add the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla, and whisk until combined. The meringue should be very glossy and thick and its peaks should hold their shape firmly.
Use a small amount of meringue to stick the four corners of the parchment paper to the baking sheet. You can also use a bit to stick the parchment circle down. Dust with a bit of cornflour.
Spoon meringue onto prepared parchment paper and use a spatula or large spoon to spread meringue within the traced circle as a guide, shape it into a tall mound with a flattish top.
Tip: The meringue will expand a bit, which is why the parchment circle is slightly bigger than the traced circle.
Try keep the sides quite vertical, this ensures when it expands it still keeps its height rather than flattening while spreading out. Use the back of a spoon to create a slight crater on top, this bowl shape will later help keep the cream and fruit from falling off the top.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 110°C/230°F/gas ¼ and bake for further 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool completely, keeping the oven door closed. This is best done overnight, so bake the Pavlova the night before, leaving it in the oven until morning. Alternatively, start your Pavlova first thing in the morning so it’s ready for late afternoon/evening. Do not open the oven while it is baking and for the first few hours of cooling, the cold air that rushes in will result in the meringue collapsing!
Once cooled, carefully run a large sharp knife under the parchment circle then carefully place meringue on a serving dish.
Whisk cream until firm peaks form, being careful not to overbeat (rather have the cream slightly softer) then spread cream over the top of the meringue and finish off with the strawberries. Dust with icing sugar and serve.
Other hints and tips: It is normal for the meringue to crack in a few places while baking. Most of these cracks can be covered with whipped cream, but they’re perfectly normal on a Pavlova.
Pavlova meringue can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Once topped with cream and fruit, Pavlova does not keep that well as any moisture starts to dissolve the meringue, so serve within about an hour of assembling.
Keep leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a day. You may find that a bit of sweet syrup seeps from the meringue due to moisture dissolving the sugars. This is normal and it is still safe to eat.
Recipe courtesy of ILoveCooking. You can watch a step by step video at IloveCooking.ie