Named after the ballerina, this traditional Australian dessert is just as light, delicate, and delicious as you'd hope. A thick layer of whipped cream piled on a baked meringue cake, topped off with whatever fresh fruit you can get your hands on - a perfect addition to any summer picnic!
And for something so pretty, this recipe is shamefully easy to make...
Step 1: Ingredients
- 5 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 cups superfine (castor) sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Step 2: Prep Work
Set oven for 350°
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie tray, and trace an 8-inch circle in the center. Flip upside down (you should still be able to see the circle). This will be your guide for shaping the meringue.
Step 3: Make Meringue
If you haven't already, separate your egg whites.
Beat the egg whites on medium-high speed in your standing mixer for about 3 minutes, or until peaks form.
Switch the mixer to medium speed. Add your sugar, one spoonful at a time, and continue to beat until your meringue has stiff and shiny peaks. Add vanilla.
With your rubber spatula, carefully fold in the cornstarch and vinegar. You add these two ingredients so your Pavlova's crust is dry and crisp, and the interior remains soft and fluffy, like a marshmallow.
Step 4: Spread Meringue
Use the spatula to pile your meringue into the center of your traced circle on the parchment paper on the cookie tray. Using the circle as a guide, spread the mixture to make a circular mound, keeping the sides higher than the center.
Step 5: Bake
Place the pavlova in the over and immediately turn the oven down to 300°
Bake for about 80 minutes, until your pavlova is golden and looks crunchy. If you over-bake it, the meringue will collapse on itself. It will still taste great, but will be more dense. If sugary droplets form on the surface of the meringue, you'll know you have overcooked it; liquid oozing from the pavlova is a sign of undercooking.
When things look good, turn the oven off but leave the pavlova in there to cool slowly. Prop open the door with a wooden spoon.
Step 6: Toppings
- heavy whipping cream (~1 pint)
- pinch of sugar
- drop of vanilla
For your topping, you'll also need fresh fruit! Most all fruits work well with the sweet and neutral base of the pavlova and whipped cream, so feel free to get creative! I've found the tarter fruits work best, and so I worked with what was in-season around me. I used strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, and raspberries.
Step 7: Top and Serve!
Delicately transfer your meringue off of the parchment paper and onto your serving surface. Spread whipped cream on top, being careful not to push too hard and crack the edges. Then pile your fruit on!
Part of the charm of this dish is how homemade it looks, so there's no need to be a perfectionist with the fruit placement or whipped cream spreading.
To serve, slice like a cake. Bell ringing, and the consequential salivation is optional.