The great Aussie Pavlova! With my recipe video and easy to follow tips that make all the difference, you’ll nail this classic Pavlova recipe every single time. With a delicate meringue crust on the outside, soft marshmallow on the inside, topped with cream and seasonal fruit, the pav always steals the show at gatherings!
There is no greater summer dessert than the great Aussie Pav!
Pavlova is one of those desserts that is notoriously easy yet notoriously difficult. I think many people are scared to make it. Others have lamented that you should just accept that it will come out of the oven quite cracked.
Though I’m going to be sharing my tips for a perfect near-flawless pav (including a few you may have never heard of before!), first up, let me be clear about one thing – it does not matter if it cracks!! Even if it cracks severely . Just do your best to piece it back together, using cream as a glue and to hide the worst cracks. It only needs to hold together for a few seconds – for you to place it on the table, for everyone to ooh and ah over it, for you to have your moment of glory. The minute it gets cut to serve it up, it doesn’t matter! Even a perfect pav looks like a mess once it starts being served!
But as it so happens, if you follow my tips, I’m confident you’ll have a crack-less near-flawless Pav… 😉 Even making this in the height of Aussie summer!
MY TIPS FOR A PERFECT PAVLOVA
I’ve seen many “no-fail pavlova” tip lists, but I’ve never seen a list with all of these, mainly because some of them are my own, discovered after many trial and errors!
1. Measure the egg whites by volume. This is a big tip! “4 egg whites” can range from anywhere between 100ml / 3oz – 180ml/6oz depending on the size of the eggs + how much egg white you manage to get out of each egg. The amount of egg whites used is key to a successful Pav!
2. Don’t use freshly laid eggs. Really, older eggs fluff up better! Make sure the eggs are circa 5 days+ old. Store bought eggs are a safe bet. 🙂
3. Separate the eggs while fridge cold. Trust me, it’s so much easier than when they’re at room temperature. PS If you’re new to separating yolks from whites, just crack the eggs into your hand and let the whites slide through between your fingers. Jiggle your hand slightly to get all the whites off the yolk, and you’ll be left with just the yolk sitting in your fingers.
4. Not even a drop of yolk is allowed! Even a bit of yolk can ruin the whole batch i.e. it won’t fluff up. So if you accidentally get yolk in your whites, you can try scooping it out using a shell (also good tip for picking out shell bits) but if you think there’s any chance it has tainted the rest of the whites, start again. It isn’t worth the risk!
5. Bring egg whites to room temperature. They fluff up much better. So separate while cold, then bring to room temperature.
6. Make sure your bowls and whisk are clean and dry. Grease and water can stop whites from fluffing.
7. Use an inverted cake pan. For shaping (saves you drawing a circle on paper) and also ease of transferring the Pav to a platter. There is nothing sadder than pulling a perfect Pav out of the oven, only to have it crack when transferring it to the serving platter!
Tips continued below photo….you didn’t think I was done, did you? 😉
8. WEATHER WARNING!!! Heat and humidity. As it happens, Pav is a summer dessert but it is not conducive to being made in hot humid weather. ? It can cause the Pav to collapse during or after baking. I don’t know the exact temperatures and humidity % cut off points and had a number of epic failures before I figure out tips #9 – #13. Using the tips below, the Pav in the photos were made last week during a heat wave when it was 33C/91F and humidity was 65 – 75%. So if it is hot and humid where you are, do not skip #8 onwards, they were created especially for the Aussie summer!!!
9. Bigger is better….except in summer ?I know, I know. You want to do a giant pav. But honestly, for the sake of a Pav that doesn’t collapse on you, stick with 4 eggs. I can’t stress that enough. I’m speaking from experience here, having tried a few 6 egg pavs a few weeks ago. A 4 egg Pav will serve 8 -10 easily. 4 eggs doesn’t sound like much, but this expands. Any larger, and the risk of severe cracking is really high. At least, in hot humid weather. You can do giant Pavs in cooler months!
10. Don’t make it too tall. The taller the Pav, the greater the risk of collapse / severe cracking. In summer, I wouldn’t go higher than 5cm/2″. It will expand to about 7cm / 2.7″. You can do your taller Pavs in cooler months. 🙂
11. Make the edges sloped / dome like shape. Yes, a perfect cake-like shaped Pav with vertical smooth edges is pretty. But it’s also the most fragile shape. The shape of my Pav, almost like a dome but with a flat top, is the safest. Having the rugged surface also helps provide stability I find. (Really hoping an engineer reading this can explain why this is so in simple English, this is beyond my capabilities. I just know they are much more stable shaped like this!)
12. Preheat oven to a high temp, then turn down. The initial high temp really helps to get that crust kick started to stabilise the meringue.
13. Bake on a very low temp for longer – This keeps your Pav nice and white (so pretteee!). I bake mine at 100C /210f (fan/convection) or 115C / 240F (standard). Also baking for longer at a lower temp again helps with stability (higher temp can cause Pav to puff too fast which then collapses later).
14. No peeking and no thundering through the kitchen!! Seriously, I am NOT joking. Peeking = loss of heat / door slamming = collapsed Pav. Thundering through kitchen with timber floors (I’m glaring at a certain giant fur ball as I write that) = collapsed Pav.
15. Leave in oven overnight. Or all day. Letting it cool down gradually = less cracking risk. Also in summer, especially on hot humid days, where better to leave the Pav than in a sealed almost-airtight oven?
16. BE GENTLE when topping the Pav! Hanging my head in shame. I once tipped a bowl of strawberries on a Pav and watched in dismay as it sank. Place the topping on gently by hand.
17. Make extra cream. No, not for serving. To use as glue / disguise cracks / in case it sinks. Remember the beauty of the Pav – even in a severely destroyed state, it can still be made to look pretty with cream and fruit!
Follow those tips for my Pavlova recipe, and this is what will come out of the oven even on a 33C/91F day – a near perfect Pav. ?
Top with cream and berries, or whatever fruit you want! I totally forgot to put passionfruit on this. I do feel like passionfruit and Pav is just quintessentially Aussie!
And that moment when you place if on the table, when everyone oohs and aaahs over the beautiful Pav…lap it up. You totally deserve it. 😉
Marshmallow on the inside. The softest most delicate meringue on the outside. Smothered in softly whipped cream and piled high with fruit… I truly cannot think of a great Aussie summer dessert. – Nagi x
- 150 ml / 5 oz egg whites (4-5 eggs fridge cold eggs) (Note 1)
- 1 cup / 220g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1 tbsp cornflour / cornstarch, sifted
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups / 375 ml thickened cream / heavy cream (any whipping cream)
- 1/4 cup / 55g cup caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
- Fruit of choice. I used: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and cherries.
Separate the whites and yolks while eggs are cold. Measure 150 ml/5oz egg whites (140 - 160ml is ok).
Set whites aside to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 150C/300F (fan / convection) / 170C/340F (standard).
Place whites in a bowl. Use a stand mixer (I use speed 7) or handheld beater (high) and beat until soft peaks form (Note 2)
Add sugar 1 tbsp at a time, beating as you go. (Note 3)
After adding the sugar, beat for a further 3 minutes or until thick and glossy. Rub a little of the fluff between your fingers, there should be no sugar grit - that means it is ready.
Add cornflour and vinegar, beat on low for 5 - 7 seconds (or fold through with spatula) until just mixed through.
Get the base of a springform cake pan (24cm/9.5" or larger) and turn it upside down. Dab meringue on the edge and place a piece of baking paper (parchment paper) on top.
Gently place half the fluff onto the paper. Use the cake pan as a guide to make it round and coax it into a circle shape around 20cm / 8" in diameter (Note 5).
Carefully scoop out the remaining fluff. Now coax it into a dome shape (not a cake with straight smooth sides) with edges sloping in slightly. Flatten top. Make it 4-5cm / 2 " high - not much higher. (Note 5). See video / photos in post. It will rise/expand.
Transfer to baking tray. CAREFULLY place in the oven, GENTLY close the door and turn oven DOWN to 100C/210F (fan / convection) / 115C/240F (standard).
Bake for 1 1/2 hours - no peeking, no thundering through kitchen! (Note 6)
Turn oven off, leave the door closed and leave Pav in the oven overnight to cool (I've done 18 hours).
Transfer Pav to serving platter then slide cake pan out from underneath. Use butter knife if required to loosen edges from paper, then slide paper out from underneath.
Just before serving, top with cream and fruit of choice.
Serve and be a rock star!
Place cream, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Beat cream until it is thickened and just holds its shape - don't overbeat, it should be silky smooth, not speckled with bubbles and stiff.
1. Eggs can differ drastically in size so the best way to ensure your Pav works is to measure the egg whites by volume. Separate eggs while cold because it's easier, then bring whites to room temperature because they fluff up better / easier.
Don't use freshly laid eggs, make sure they're 4+ days old. Store bought is a safe bet.
2. To beat whites to soft peaks, beat the whites until you can't see the egg whites anymore i.e. it all turns into white foam, then beat for a further 1 minute. The whites should now be soft peaks - i.e. just holds its shape in peaks.
The vinegar and cornflour / cornstarch help keep the egg whites stabilised once whipped which is especially important for a pav because it's quite tall (not as important for small meringues).
3. If using a handheld beater, use a heavy based bowl so you can beat while adding sugar at the same time without the bowl moving around.
4. Work quickly here - after you stop beating, try to get it in the oven within 5 minutes max.
5. Eyeball it, you will go by height to determine Pav size, not diameter. The cake low height and shape with slightly sloping inward edges makes it a more stable so it is less prone to cracking / collapsing. And don't worry, the Pav rises and expands when it bakes!
6. I bake for longer at a lower temp than most recipes because I find it makes the Pav more stable and also makes it come out white. Higher temp can cause the Pav to rise too fast, making it more prone to collapsing. I preheat the oven on a higher temp to kick start the crisping of the shell to compensate for baking at a lower temp.
7. MAKE AHEAD / STORING: Store the cool pav in an airtight container until ready for serving. I have baked it the night before then left it in the oven until lunch time the next day - worked a treat. Do not refrigerate the Pav - it will sweat when it comes to room temperature and soften the crisp meringue shell. Only put the topping on just before serving - once the cream etc is on the pav, it holds up well for around 20 min, 30 min tops.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Pavlova recipe video! Excuse the lighting and colour balance, it’s all over the place because it was filmed over a couple of days!
LIFE OF DOZER
Waiting for the Pav to fall on the ground.