The Pavlova holds a special place in my heart. It is one of the dishes I associate most strongly with New Zealand, where I grew up. It is also the sometime subject of fierce debate between Australia and New Zealand as to who invented it in the first place.
This recipe came courtesy of a “Derrick of New Zealand” tea towel. I like it because it is simpler to make than some other Pavlova recipes and because it really works.
- I go for a Pavlova meringue that is crispy outside and soft inside, so I spread out the mix 8-10 cm high on the baking sheet. If your goal is a more crispy Pav or you want to layer a couple thin, crispy sheets of it with the whipped cream, spread it thinner before baking.
- Don’t worry too much if your meringue is cracked or a bit uneven: A good layer of whipped cream and fruit over the top will cover for any perceived imperfections.
- I try to make these in the evening. The advice about leaving the meringue in the oven overnight is sound. Try to resist the temptation to open the oven before.
- I can fit up to a triple batch of this spread across a baking sheet 10+ cm high in my oven. However, my KitchenAid mixer can only hold a double batch of egg whites (8) at a time.
- Caster sugar is the fine-grained variety. It dissolves faster, so can help the consistency of your meringue mix.
- The meringue will survive a tiny bit of over beating the egg whites. The stage after “stiff peaks” is basically “lumpy,” so don’t go crazy :-)
- Kiwis would never sweeten or flavor their whipped cream for this. Do so at your own risk. The fruit and meringue are sweet enough.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla essence
- 2 tsp. cornstarch (or potato starch)
- 1 tsp. vinegar
- Preheat oven to 150°C.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Gradually add the sugar, beating all the time. Ensure all the sugar is dissolved (rub a little of the egg white mix between your fingertips to check).
- The egg whites should be thick and shiny at this stage.
- Fold the cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla into the mix.
- Turn meringue mixture out onto a baking sheet or tray.
- Shape meringue mixture as desired (circle, rectangle) on the baking sheet, based on the result you’re going for (crispy or soft, see above)
- Turn the oven down to 140°C, bake meringue 15 minutes.
- Turn the oven down to 120°C, bake meringue further 75 minutes.
- Turn oven off. Do not open! Leave overnight.
- Immediately before serving, cover with whipped cream and fresh fruit of your choice.