If there is one go-to dessert I love to roll-out when entertaining and there’s no time to plan another option, it has to be the humble Pavlova. It’s a crowd pleaser using ingredients you will more than likely have in your pantry. I’ve tried pretty much every recipe and the one I’ve found to be the most fool-proof is from Readers Digest. I love my pavlova to have a perfectly crunchy shell and marshmallow centre and have found the following tips help in getting some serious air. Don’t let this list scare you though – they are super-easy to make, but these tips will help you get the best result. But if yours does implode, simply turn into an Eton Mess and no one will ever know. Try Nigella’s version here.
- Clean equipment! You need to get serious about this – those beater whisks and bowl need to be cleaner than Lindsay Lohan leaving Betty Ford. Big time.
- Purer than pure egg whites. No fishing out bits of yolk with a spoon. This will seriously impede your ability to fluff your whites. Separate each egg into a smaller cup, then pour the white into the mixer bowl – that way you won’t accidentally spoil the entire amount when you inevitably stuff up the last egg. True story.
- Get your eggs to room temperature before you start. I have no idea why, it just seems to help. Trust me and my legacy of mediocre pavlovas.
- Get your egg whites to form soft peaks first, before adding your sugar. Slowly. Really, really slowly.
- Caster sugar is better than the standard white sugar you put in your coffee as it’s finer and dissolves better during mixing. This is not a con to get 50 cents more from you at the checkout. Fact.
- Make like Michael Jackson and beat it until you can’t feel any granules when you rub a bit of mixture between your thumb and forefinger. Sugar that isn’t mixed in properly causes your pavlova to weep, and no-one wants a weepy pav.
- Always preheat your oven and always bake your pavlova immediately.
- I like to turn the oven off and leave the pavolva in there until it’s all cooled.
- There’s no crack that couldn’t be filled beautifully with whipped cream and fruit, so don’t stress!
- Top with fresh fruit and cream – assemble everything just before serving to avoid the soggy factor.
- Drizzling passionfruit over is a definite winner, as the tartness cuts right through the sugar. I can never seem to find fresh passionfruit, so the pulp in syrup from a tin works just fine! Freeze any leftover pulp in ice-cube trays for next time.
Pretty-Much Perfect Pavlova
8 egg whites
375g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 teaspoons brown vinegar
Large pinch of salt
2 teaspoons cornflour
Prep: 20 minutes | Cook: 1 hour 10 minutes
1. Use a large baking tray; line with baking paper. Mark a 23cm circle on it as a guide for the meringue. Turn the baking paper the other way, but you still want to see the circle through the paper.
2. Preheat oven to 180°C.
3. In a large, dry bowl, beat the egg whites with electric beaters on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and beat continuously until mixture is firm and glossy and sugar has dissolved. Beat in vanilla, then the vinegar and salt. Sift the cornflour and fold in.
4. Using a spatula, spread mixture over marked circle. Straighten sides, making them higher than the centre, but don’t overwork this bit or get too worried about it. Bake for 10 minutes in the centre of the oven.
5. Reduce temperature to 120°C. Bake for a further hour. Remove pavlova from oven and leave to cool completely. Whip the cream until firm; chill.
6. Just before serving, top pavlova with whipped cream. Decorate with fresh fruit like strawberries, peaches, kiwi fruit or mangoes and drizzle passionfruit pulp over the top.