Pavlova is one of my favourite desserts from childhood. It’s such a classic, and it never fails to impress on a Summer’s day. That said, there’s nothing worse than ordering a Pavlova somewhere and outcomes a meringue in disguise! A true pavlova should be snow white in colour, crumbly on the outside, and light, fluffy and chewy on the inside. There are a few places where this can go wrong, and I promise you I’ve made all the mistakes myself, so hopefully this recipe will yield you a beautiful Pavlova to impress everyone at the next BBQ you attend!
So the first thing to check before you start making a Pavlova is that your bowl is perfectly clean. Be especially careful when using a plastic mixing bowl, as these have a tendency to cling to any fat particles. If anything fatty gets into your egg whites, the mixture will collapse when the sugar is added.
The next thing to watch out for is to ensure no egg yolk whatsoever gets into the whites. To separate your eggs, crack the shell by firmly hitting off of a flat surface and pulling the resulting crack apart with your thumbs. Allow the egg whites to fully drain into a bowl by transferring the egg yolk between the two shell halves. If the egg yolk falls into the egg whites, gently lift it out with your hands, however if the yolk has split and contaminated the egg whites you cannot use it for the Pavlova – so I guess you’re having an omlette for dinner! All of the yolks can go into the same bowl, and can be used to make a delicious lemon curd that you can put on top of the Pavlova. Before you separate the next egg, transfer the egg whites that you’ve already separated into the mixing bowl, just in case the next egg yolk splits.
To ensure you have a perfectly white Pavlova it’s vital that you use a very low temperature on your oven. With my fan oven, I usually set it to around 85-90 °C, but check it after the first 20 min to ensure the sugar hasn’t begun to caramelise, which is what gives it a golden brown colour. If it’s beginning to discolour, just turn your oven down ~10 °C. The size and depth of your Pavlova will determine how long it needs to cook. A 6-egg, 8′ one usually takes ~75 min. You’ll know it’s done when it is hard to the touch. Over cooking it will just mean it will crack and crumble, but it will still taste fine, and slathering the cream on top covers a multitude!
Light and Fluffy Pavlova
- 6 egg whites (from medium/large eggs)
- 400 g caster sugar
- 4 level teaspoons cornflour
- 2 tsp vinegar (use cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 85-90 °C (fan).
Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and use a pencil to trace out the size/shape Pavlova you want.
Separate your eggs carefully, ensuring no yolk contamination in the egg whites. Set the yolks aside to use in another recipe, such as lemon curd.
Transfer the egg whites to a clean bowl, and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. Once you can hold the bowl upside-down without the contents pouring out, it has been whisked enough.
Slowly add the sugar into the egg whites with whisking to form a glossy mixture.
Add the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract and whisk one more time.
Using a spatula, spoon the mixture onto the parchment paper. Bake in the oven for ~75 to 90 minutes. Leave to cool in the oven with the door cracked open.
Once cool, decorate with fresh whipped cream and fresh fruit. To finish, garnish with some edible flowers and mint leaves, and a dusting of icing sugar.
Tag @thecorkfork on Instagram to show me your Pavlova!