The meringue part of your pavlova can easily be made a day or two in advance. In fact, it's usually best made the day before you wish to serve it. Simply store in an airtight container until you are ready to assemble.
But before we dive into the recipe, here are some handy tips for making the perfect pavlova:
1. Always start with room temperature eggs! This helps to create an airier meringue which results in a lighter, more fluffy pavlova. If your eggs have been in the fridge, take them out 2-3 hours before getting started.
2. Ensure all utensils and mixing bowls are meticulously clean and dry to ensure a successful meringue. Even the slightest bit of oil, water, or egg yolk in your bowl might prevent your egg whites from forming perfect soft peaks. A stainless steel or ceramic bowl works best.
3. Always opt for caster sugar (aka superfine sugar) as its finer texture incorporates better into whipped egg whites.
4. Although you might be tempted to open the oven door and check your pavlova, do not do so until the end! You don't want heat to escape during baking. This will cause unnecessary cracks and might deflate your pavlova!
Inspire your pavlova toppings with these yummy ideas:
- Fresh berries, kiwifruit or stone-fruit
- Cherries with shavings of dark chocolate
- Lemon curd (great for using up your left-over yolks!)
- Toasted coconut and passionfruit sauce
- Caramel sauce, walnuts and popcorn
- Raspberries, honey and toasted pistachios
- Turkish delight, pomegranate seeds and honey
- Poached pears, cinnamon and maple syrup
- Fresh mint, thyme or edible flowers
Ready to bake? Here's the recipe!
For the meringue:
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup icing sugar
Fruit or extra toppings of your choice
Preheat your oven to 140 °C fan bake, and place a rack in the middle of the oven.
Line a baking tray with tin foil, then using an upside-down bowl or cake tin as a guide, gently mark a circle using the blunt end of a knife. Ours was 22cm in diameter.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk your egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, 1 tbsp or so at a time, and continue to beat until glossy and fully incorporated. Lastly, add the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla, and fold gently into the meringue.
Using a spatula, spread the mixture onto the circle on your tray, ensuring the edges are slightly higher than the centre. The mixture will drop somewhat, so don’t be afraid to keep it reasonably high in height. Using the back of a knife or spoon, create a pretty pattern around the edges of the meringue if you desire.
Bake until the meringue turns a lovely pale colour, 1 hour 10 minutes seems to be the sweet spot. Turn off the oven, keep the meringue inside, and leave the door ajar allowing to cool completely. The surface will crack slightly. This normal and part of its beautiful appearance!
Once ready to serve, beat the cream, vanilla and icing sugar until just-whipped, then spread on top of the meringue. Decorate with toppings of your choice (see our list above!).