Pavlova

This ethereal crown of meringue, filled with cream and berries is a Pavlova. The name comes from the ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who was performing around the world in 1926 and made a stop in the land down under. From there the details get a little fuzzy and no one is quite sure if it was a pastry chef from Australia or New Zealand who first made this dessert for her. It causes a heated debate amongst them if you declare it one way or the other, so I am staying vague on the origin. This is one of my favorite desserts, because I am a huge fan of meringue in just about any form. I love how it looks, how it tastes and the texture it lends. Pavlova, unlike other meringues, is made with vinegar and cornstarch, so the end result is crisp on the outside, but still has some tooth (chew) on the inside. Traditionally it is served with fruit, such as berries and passionfruit (that’s what is dripping off the edge) and whipped cream. I also added lemon curd, but there are no rules and you can fill this with whatever moves you.

To watch me make, shape and bake this Pavlova see my instagram video. 

Pavlova

150g egg whites ~ about 5 egg whites (Use a Kitchen Scale for this to make sure you are getting the right amount of egg whites)

Pinch of salt

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional. It will make the meringue stronger, especially if you have older, weaker egg whites)

1/4 cup cold water

1 1/4 cups (250g) sugar

1 teaspoon vinegar (white wine, cider or distilled)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (make your own)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 275°F

Trace a 6-inch circle on a piece of parchment and set it in a baking sheet.

Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt together until medium-stiff peaks (see my meringue video on instagram)

Add the water slowly while whipping the whites on low speed. Drizzle in the sugar, then turn up the speed and whip until stiff peaks.

Fold in the vanilla, vinegar and cornstarch.

Mound the meringue into the circle on the parchment. Use a Spatula to create the design in the meringue (see my pavlova video on instagram)

Bake for 60 minutes or until the meringue starts to turn a very pale tan color, then reduce the heat to 250°F and continue to bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven (don’t open the door), turn on the light in the oven (don’t stress if the light doesn’t work) and let the meringue sit in the cooling oven for at least an hour, but it can be stored like this over night.

The center of the pavlova will collapse, that’s just the nature of the beast and where you will put your filling. The outer edge may crack a touch too, but I’ve made this shape several times and it generally only cracks a little if you do not open the oven door.

The inside should be soft, but not at all wet. 

Fillings:

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1-2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (make your own)

1 cup lemon curd

Berries and Passionfruit for topping and serving on the side.

 

Pavlova
Author: 
 
Check out my Instagram Story Highlights called "Pavlova" and "Meringue" (linked in the blog post above) for help with this recipe.
Ingredients
  • 150g egg whites ~ about 5 egg whites (Use a Kitchen Scale for this to make sure you are getting the right amount of egg whites)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional. It will make the meringue stronger, especially if you have older, weaker egg whites)
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1¼ cups (250g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (white wine, cider or distilled)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (make your own)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 275°F.
  2. Trace a 6-inch circle on a piece of parchment and set it in a baking sheet.
  3. Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt together until medium-stiff peaks.
  4. Add the water slowly while whipping the whites on low speed. Drizzle in the sugar, then turn up the speed and whip until stiff peaks.
  5. Fold in the vanilla, vinegar and cornstarch.
  6. Mound the meringue into the circle on the parchment. Use a Spatula to create the design in the meringue (see my pavlova video on instagram)
  7. Bake for 60 minutes or until the meringue starts to turn a very pale tan color, then reduce the heat to 250°F and continue to bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven (don't open the door), turn on the light in the oven (don't stress if the light doesn't work) and let the meringue sit in the cooling oven for at least an hour, but it can be stored like this over night.
  8. The center of the pavlova will collapse, that's just the nature of the beast and where you will put your filling. The outer edge may crack a touch too, but I've made this shape several times and it generally only cracks a little if you do not open the oven door.
  9. The inside should be soft, but not at all wet.
Notes
Fillings: I filled my pavlova with whipped cream made with 1½ cups heavy whipping cream, 1-2 tablespoons confectioners sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. I topped the cream with 1 cup lemon curd and garnished with berries and passionfruit.

 

PAVLOVA FAQs

1. Why add water to the meringue?

Water makes for a thinner, more delicate meringue, so the end result is not rock hard, but a tender (soft) interior, while still crisp on the outside. Adding the water makes the egg foam less stable, which is why it’s SUPER IMPORTANT to also add the vinegar, which strengthens the proteins and helps make a strong but tender foam.

2. Why add vinegar to the meringue and why at the end?

Normally I would add an acid (either cream of tartar or vinegar) at the beginning of whipping the whites to help add stability and ensure a strong foam that won’t weep moisture. But, I was adding the water to thin out the whites, so I waited until after they were fully whipped before adding the vinegar. It still does its magic as long as it’s added before baking.

3. Why add cornstarch to the meringue?

Adding the starch to the foam helps create a softer meringue and one that is easy to cut, opposed to a meringue that shatters when you touch it with the knife. Because it interferes with the structure of the eggs (that’s why it’s softer), I whip the whites until STIFF and then I fold the starch in at the end. The starch also prevents the baked meringue from shrinking.

4. Why leave the light on in the oven after the pavlova is baked?

The oven light puts off just enough heat to keep the pavlova dry until you are ready to fill and serve it. This is key in the humid summer months. It can sit in the oven for up to 24 hours with the light on.

5. What if you don’t have an oven light?

You can still make the pavlova, but don’t open the door until you are ready to serve, and don’t try to make it WAY in advance if you live in a humid climate.

19 thoughts to “Pavlova”

  1. I watched your beautiful Instagram video! Now I must attempt to create this beauty. I have never eaten a pavlova, but looks luxurious! Cross your fingers as this home baker attempts this beauty.

  2. Hi Zoe,
    Thank you for sharing the recipe and instructional video. I love love how you explain the science and reasoning behind your ingredients and steps. It is wonderful!

  3. I love your pavlova, it’s so beautiful. I will try your recipe this weekend. Thank you for sharing your wonderful creation and recipe.

  4. Hello, Your cake is beautiful ! I watched your video but sadly it doesn’t show you actually forming the meringue . I made the recipe twice. They both spread out to be quite large AND they both, unfortunately, cracked.
    Since I was making it for a friends birthday party I filled one anyway, with the whipping cream, curd , berries etc and decorated it with items from my garden , violas, mint, lavender , strawberries leaves , it looked quite lovely, sans, one side missing . It was served alongside another slice of cake on a lovely rectangular dish with raspberry coulis drizzled around it. I tasted divine and got rave reviews … so as the saying goes, you can make lemonade from lemons or in this case, lemon curd !

  5. Hi, I’m back with another comment… an apology, actually.. somehow I missed the full video and only got a slideshow with a few pictures of the progression of the cake, not the full video … Now I can try it a third time and hopefully with more success … Yours is such a beauty !

    1. Hi. It serves about 6-8, depending how large the slice. I have two giant teen boys, so it fed the 4 of us, but they each had two servings.

      Thanks, Zoë

  6. How far ahead of time can you fill it? Once you do fill it with cream and curd of your choice should you store at room temp or in the fridge?

  7. I plan to make this this weekend. How far ahead of eating can I fill it with the cream and curd and decorate? Will it be okay for a few hours at room temp or in the fridge? Thanks!!

  8. that is just beautiful! i’m attempting my first ever pavlova…what would cause cracking on the outer shell other than opening the door? also, would using convection work well for this? (I have a new kitchen with an oven that has convection and am still trying to figure out how and when to use it!)

    1. Hi Marisa,

      It is best not to use the convection or the pavlova will bake too quickly and crack. Convection is great for browning.

      Enjoy, Zoë

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