What are you? Are you a meringue? Are you a marshmallow? What a hybrid you are, and a good one at best. I’ve been on a pavlova kick. I’m not afraid to admit it. Everyone in the house is eating pavlova and I don’t care if they reach a sugar high unlike any other they’ve ever had before. I even made it for our flatmates 40th birthday “cake” (please see fabulous, not so fabulous post birthday candle blow out picture below). Pavlova is this amazing mix between a sweet traditional meringue with the signature crisp outer shell yet airy mallowy belly. It’s delicious and perfect for summertime. Although, I’m not sure where summer is in London these days, please defer all questions regarding London weather to mother nature. The sun is hiding behind grey clouds and a thick smog that makes you sweat yet chills your bones. But, she is showing signs of sunnier days ahead.
There are some basic rules to pavlova you need to know before you start your pavlova journey. Clean your tools and make sure they are spotless. I cannot stress this enough. Your beaters must be grease free, your metal bowl must be spotless. Everything that touches your meringue must be free of grease and fat or else you won’t achieve even so much as stiff egg whites before you begin to add your sugar. In other words, get yourself pavlova ready.
Preheat your oven to 140 Celsius (300 Fahrenheit), lower third shelf of your oven, please! Make sure you eggs are at room temperature – this is key to the volume of your egg whites. With greaseproof paper lining a flat baking tray, draw an outline of a 18cmm circle (make sure to flip the paper back over before using to ensure no pen marks make it onto your gorgeously white and fluffy pav).
Start by separating your egg whites from your egg yolks. Be very careful not to let any yolk sneak into your whites – any fat in your whites will lead to your egg whites not coming to stiff peaks. Next, bring your egg whites to stiff peaks. Once you have the egg whites at stiff peaks begin to add your caster sugar 1 tablespoon at a time in order to stabilize the meringue. Once you have incorporated 4 tablespoons worth of sugar, either fold or whisk the remaining sugar into the meringue. You must work quickly in order not to lose air from your meringue. Finally whisk or fold the cornflour, lemon or white wine vinegar, and vanilla into your glossy meringue. Straight onto your greaseproof lined baking sheet and into the oven your pav goes. Do not open the oven door for the next hour! Patience is a virtue, a pavlova virtue. Once the hour is up, turn the oven off and allow the pav to cool in the oven for another hour or over night. Top with cream (I like to fold in a bit of orange zest) and berries of your liking and there you have the perfect pav.
PAV TIP 101: You should have double the amount in weight of your egg whites. Separate your egg whites and weight them. Then double that weight and that’s how much sugar you should use.
4 egg whites
200 g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
300 ml double whipping cream
Berries or fruit of your choice