Pavlova is a real showstopper of a dessert and is far easier than it looks. Maximum reward for minimal effort – what more could you want?
A pavlova is a great base for so many fruits and flavours; the combinations really are endless. I chose not to flavour this pavlova but I’ll usually add half a teaspoon to any meringue I’m making but you can use whichever flavours take your fancy.
As you can see in my pictures, my meringue cracked but it’s my own fault: I opened the oven mid-bake – the light in my oven had gone off and I thought it had broken, it hasn’t it was just the bulb – but had I not opened the oven then the meringue would have likely been flawless! I know that for a lot of people this would be seen as a sign of failure, and I did weigh-up whether or not I should post these pictures or remake and rephotograph the recipe but I’m happy with it: the meringue was perfectly cooked and tasted delicious. If you’d rather not serve a cracked pavlova then break up the meringue and use to make an Eton Mess.
Whenever I make meringue I always weigh my egg whites and then use twice the amount of caster sugar so I’ve included egg white by weight below but I used four large eggs; finally, for a large meringue like a pavlova I always add a little cornflour for a nice chewy meringue.
Strawberry and Raspberry Pavlova
- 151 g egg whites
- 302 g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp cornflour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 300 ml double cream
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 75 g strawberries hulled and finely sliced
- 50 g raspberries
- juice 1/2 orange
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 250 g strawberries
- 200 g raspberries
- Pre-heat your oven to 150 degrees and prepare your baking tray. Take a sheet of greaseproof paper and something circular, I use a small dinner plate that's around 10cm across and draw around it to create a circular guide. Turn the paper over (so that the side you've drawn on makes contact with the baking sheet and doesn't come off on your meringue!) and leave to one side.
- Weigh your egg whites - as mentioned earlier I used 4 large eggs and the whites when weighed came to 151g. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer, it is crucial the bowl is completely clean and has no residue whatsoever left behind, if the bowl isn't spotless the eggs won't whisk.
- Whisk on a medium speed, increasing slightly as you go until the egg whites are stiff and you can hold the bowl above your head without getting covered in meringue! This takes about 7 minutes.
- Whilst you're meringue is whisking, measure out your caster sugar. It should be double the weight of the egg whites hence why I've weighed out 302g above.
- Once the meringue is stiff, turn the mixture back on to slow and add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, increasing the speed as you go until you get to maximum speed.
- Whisk until the meringue is stiff, glossy and can hold itself. If you rub a little bit between your thumb and forefinger you shouldn't be able to feel any grains of sugar, if you can then you need to continue to whisk until the sugar has dissolved. If you skip this, your meringue will leak.
- Finally, add in your cornflour and, if you're using it, your vanilla essence. Whisk to incorporate.
- Use a plastic spatula to pile your meringue onto your prepared baking tray. Moving the meringue about to fill out the circle and until you reach your desired shape. Try not to play with the meringue too much, you don't want to knock any of the air out.
- Bake for 1 hour without opening the oven door (see my pictures for why this is essential in baking a meringue without cracks!). After the hour, turn off the oven and leave the meringue inside to cool completely - around an hour. Do not open the door!
- Whilst your meringue is cooling make your sweetened cream. Add the double cream, icing sugar and vanilla essence to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until thick and creamy. The cream should be able to hold itself but not be too stiff. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge until you're ready to use.
- To make the fruit dressing wash, hull and finely chop strawberries and add to a small bowl. Add in whole raspberries, the juice of half a large orange, and two tablespoons of icing sugar. Use a fork to mash everything together until the berries release juice and everything forms a loose paste - almost like a glaze.
- Prepare your fresh fruit by washing it and hulling and cutting the strawberries - leave some whole.
- Once your meringue has cooled remove from the oven and transfer straight to a serving plate or cake stand. Cover the top with the sweetened cream; add the fruit dressing and finally top with all the prepared fresh fruit.
- Tuck in immediately. You should eat the pavlova on the same day, it won't keep well even in the fridge.
- You can make the pavlova ahead of time and store in an airtight container for around two weeks.
Always weigh your egg whites and remember, twice as much sugar to egg white.
As you start to whisk your meringue it’ll go through a few stages. The first is this foamy stage, it’s at this point that I increase the speed slightly on my mixer.
It then gets a bit heavier and more ‘cloud’ like. I increase the speed again at this point.
You’ll then be able to hold it over your head and when you take it down, it should look like this. Thick but strong.
Add a tablespoon of sugar at a time until you get to this stage. Provided you can’t feel any grains of sugar when you rub a piece of meringue between your thumb and forefinger, the meringue is now ready.
Dollop out onto a baking tray and into the oven it goes for 2 hours – 1 hour baking; 1 hour cooling.
Make your sweetened cream and your fruit sauce whilst your meringue is cooling. You can cover them both and pop them in the fridge until you need to use them.
Get your pavlova out of the oven and panic because it has huge cracks.
Quickly cover the top with cream and fill in the cracks – nobody will ever know!
Add a drizzle of your fruity sauce.
Cover with fresh fruit and dig in!
When you cut the meringue it should sound crisp and crunchy but the inside should be soft and chewy.
Enjoy on the day you make the pavlova – do not leave for later or put in the fridge, it won’t keep well.