Tips for making the best pavlova
Pavlova is a classic Aussie dessert that bakers around the country try their hand at, especially for Christmas and summertime. When you're making a pav for a crowd, the aim is always to achieve a light, crisp and sturdy base, ready to be topped with lashings of cream and fruit.
No more fretting about underwhipped egg whites, sunken tops or weeping cracks, with these tips your classic pavlova recipe is sure to turn out a treat.
Classic pavlova recipe
6 eggwhites (210g), at room temperature
330g (1 ½ cups) caster sugar
1 ½ teaspoons white vinegar
- Preheat oven to 150°C fan forced. Mark a 23cm circle onto a sheet of baking paper. Turn baking paper over and place onto an upturned large greased baking tray (this makes it easier for sliding pavlova off tray once cooked).
- Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixture. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks.
- Gradually add sugar a tablespoon at a time, making sure sugar is dissolved between each addition. Once sugar is added, scrape down sides of bowl if needed. Whisk for a further 6 minutes, or until mixture is thick and glossy.
- Add vinegar and whisk for further 2 minutes. Spoon meringue onto paper. Use a pallet knife to shape the meringue into peaks.
- Place in oven, reduce oven temperature to 120°C fan forced and bake for 1 hour or until dry. Turn off oven and allow pavlova to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the lemon curd.
Get the recipe you can save to your myfoodbook cookbooks: Classic Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Kiwi Fruit
Can you use old eggs for meringue?
Use the freshest eggs possible. Fresh eggs create a better foam than older eggs. This is because they're more acidic, which allows proteins to knit together tightly making a more stable foam. Frozen (and defrosted) egg whites are a good option too, as long as they were frozen while fresh. While you can still use older egg whites, the meringue won't be as stable.
Are cold or room temperature eggs better for pavlova?
Room temperature egg whites will create a more stable and airier meringue. Remove eggs from fridge 30-60 minutes before using. Eggs are easier to separate when cold, so you can separate the eggs first then let them come to room temperature.
What type of sugar do you use in meringue?
You can use either white or caster sugar for meringue, but caster sugar is easier to use. It has smaller crystals, therefore dissolves more quickly and easily into the egg whites. For a successful pavlova, the sugar must be completely dissolved into the egg whites.
Fat is the enemy of meringue
Residual fats and oil left on any equipment will significantly reduce the foaminess of the egg whites. If possible, use a glass or stainless-steel mixing bowl that can be cleaned thoroughly. Avoid plastic mixing bowls, fats and oils will remain and cannot be completely removed through washing.
Ensure your bowl and beaters are spotless by washing in hot soapy water. You can also wipe them down with white vinegar solution.
Egg yolks contain fats so avoid getting any of it into your whites while separating the egg. It's best to separate each egg individually, and add egg whites to the main bowl one at a time to avoid any trace of yolk.
Don't make pavlova on a humid day
Pavlova is high in sugar, and sugar will absorb moisture from other ingredients and the atmosphere.
Making a meringue on a very humid day will result in a weeping or soft, sticky pavlova. To reduce the chances of this happening, use a recipe that uses cornflour in the meringue base. Also ensure the pavlova cools completely in a turned-off oven after baking. Keep the door ajar. Once cool, immediately transfer to an airtight container and store in a dry pantry or cupboard.
For more stable pavlova, add cornflour and acid
What speed should you whisk the egg whites?
When should you start adding sugar to the egg white?
Why do you have to add sugar to meringue gradually?
How to shape a pavlova
- Draw a circle to mark out the size of the pavlova onto a sheet of baking paper.
- Cover a flat oven tray with low or no sides with baking paper. Grease the tray lightly to hold the paper.
- Mound the pavlova mixture in the centre of the oven tray. Spread it out to the size of the marked circle. Use a spatula to smooth the mixture as it spreads.
- For a sturdier shape, keep the height no higher than 5-6cm. Flatten the top to create a space for the cream and fruit to fill.
Choose the correct temperature
How to store pavlova
Discover more pavlova recipes and topping ideas below!