Pavlovas in my opinion are one of the most wonderful summer desserts to make for a crowd. They need only a handful of basic ingredients, are simple to make, can be prepared in advance, taste good with almost any fresh, ripe seasonal fruit, and are one of the most visually stunning sweets of ALL time.
Pavlovas are basically large meringues, with crisp, dry exteriors, but a surprisingly soft and chewy marshmallow-like centre, thanks to the addition of cornstarch and vinegar. They’re light and sweet, and when topped with a billowing cloud of whipped cream and piled with vibrant juicy fruit (especially if you include any tangy fruit like berries or passionfruit to balance out the sweetness!), they make such a texturally satisfying and flavourful dessert that is impossible not to be a crowd- pleaser.
I knew that they would be a hit at my event at Makar Farm last July, which is why I wanted to show all the wonderful attendees how to make them at home. From the feedback I got on the day, it was DEFINITELY the favourite dessert of the day, and so I wanted to share the simple recipe with you guys here.
I’ve already shared a Middle-Eastern inspired brown sugar Pavlova recipe on the blog last Christmas, but this one here is a more basic recipe suited for pretty much any fruit, and serves a bigger crowd, so is perfect for summer entertaining! I also think it makes a pretty AMAZING birthday cake, so keep that in mind the next time you want to make a different kinda cake for a fruit/meringue-loving friend or family member 😉
You can read more about the event and find more recipes from the day here.
- • 6 egg whites
- • big pinch of salt
- • 300g white caster (superfine) sugar
- • 2 tsp. white vinegar
- • 2 tbsp. cornstarch (cornflour)
- • 1 tsp. vanilla extract OR zest of 1 lemon (or both)
- TO SERVE:
- • 250ml whipping cream
- • 1 large mango, a handful of blackberries and pulp from 2 passionfruit, OR any fresh seasonal fruit
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (320F) • Cut a large piece of baking paper to the size of your baking sheet. Use a plate (the one you will be serving the pavlova in) to trace a 24-26cm circle onto the baking paper with a pen or pencil; this will help guide you when shaping the meringue. Flip the baking paper over and place it onto the baking sheet so that the pen/pencil marking is on the bottom and not in contact with the food. Set aside. • In a large bowl* of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a large bowl and a handheld electric mixer), whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt on medium speed until foamy.
- Start adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time to the foamy egg whites while mixing continuously and beating well after each addition. Keep going until you have added all the sugar, turn the mixer up to high and whisk until the meringue is very fluffy, shiny and stiff and the sugar has dissolved completely. Test a small amount between your fingers; there should be no gritty sugar crystals, if there still is, continue whisking for a couple more minutes. The mixture should be glossy and the meringue should stay firm and form a stiff peak when the whisk/beaters are turned upside down.
- Add the vinegar and vanilla &/or lemon zest, and sift the cornflour over the meringue and mix for a few seconds until just combined, then switch off the mixer.
- Dab a small amount of the meringue onto the baking sheet under-neath the baking paper in each corner to help keep it in place; this will make the paper stick to the baking sheet better and not move around while you are trying to shape the pavlova. Pile the meringue onto the centre, inside the circle you have drawn. Using an offset spatula (or a knife) shape the meringue into a round disk, smoothing the top and the sides while trying to keep it a couple of centimetres smaller than the circle (it will expand while baking). You can make swirls in any shape you like, it doesn’t have to be neat at all!
- Place the pavlova into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 120 C (250F). Bake for 1 and a half hours, then switch the oven off & leave the pavlova inside the oven with the oven door slightly ajar until cooled completely, about 3 hours. I like to wedge the handle of a wooden spoon into the oven door to keep it slightly open. Once cooled, remove onto your serving plate**.
- When ready to serve, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Pile it onto the pavlova, then decorate with fresh fruit and serve immediately.
**If you are not serving the pavlova right away, you may store it wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and in an airtight container/large ziplock bag at room temperature for up to 3 days. This prevents the humidity from reaching it, which would cause it to become sticky.