Invented in New Zealand (or Australia, depending on what you read!) and named after the famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured New Zealand and Australia in 1926, the humble pavlova has become an iconic dessert the world over.
If you are anything like us, the perfect pavlova is one that is crunchy on the outside and marshmallowy in the middle, topped with lashings of freshly whipped cream and a medley of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The secret to the squidgy middle is the addition of cornflour and malt vinegar (yes, the stuff you put on chips!).
Here is the recipe:
For the meringue base:
The whites of three large eggs (at room temperature)
170g caster sugar (if you prefer a browner, more toffee tasting pavlova, use golden caster sugar)
½ tsp malt vinegar
1 level tsp cornflour
½ tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
400ml fresh double cream
A selection of soft fruit of your choice (we love fresh berries drizzled with Crème de Cassis for an extra bit of (adult) indulgence)
- Heat the oven to 150oC/300oF/Gas Mark 2
- Place the egg whites in a squeaky-clean bowl and whisk with an electric mixer/stand mixer until they have doubled in size.
- Add the caster sugar bit by bit while continuing to whisk.
- Add the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla extract and continue to whisk until the mix is very stiff (tip the bowl over your head and the mix should remain in the bowl)
- Place a piece of baking paper on a flat baking sheet and spoon the mixture into one big heap in the middle of the baking sheet. With the back of a large spoon, smooth the mixture out into a circle, approximately 5cm deep.
- Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
- Turn the oven off and slightly open the oven door. Allow the pavlova to cool in the oven.
Place the meringue it on a serving plate. Whip up the cream and spread it over the top of the meringue. Wash and dry the fruit before scattering liberally over the top.
This pavlova is best assembled immediately before eating. Whip the cream and get the fruit ready in advance and then put everything together just before it goes to the table to ensure that you get the best of the crunchy outside and gooey middle.
You can make the meringue in advance, just make sure that you store it in an airtight box in a cool room (but not the refrigerator).
Our other favourite Pavlova toppings:
- Chocolate hazelnut spread swirled into the cream with chopped roasted hazelnuts sprinkled on top
- Sliced fresh pears drizzled with melted dark chocolate
- Lemon curd swirled into the cream with fresh raspberries sprinkled on top.You could also grate white chocolate over the top too.
- Fresh mango, pineapple and passion fruit, sprinkled with coconut flakes and adorned with mint leaves
- Dulce de leche (caramel) swirled into the cream, topped with freshly sliced bananas and grated dark chocolate