Valentine’s is coming up, and I honestly have never really celebrated it. My husband and I exchange Nutella jars and maybe a homemade card – that is the end of our Valentine’s. This year we had some friends over, so I decided to make a pavlova. This is pretty much a slow-baked meringue. I tried making homemade meringue at work the other week, but after an hour of whisking it still hadn’t turned into peaks. If you don’t have a mixer, handheld or stand, then I advise you go out and buy one or you stay away from making this pavlova (unless you can whisk egg whites for a good 2+ hours).
- 150ml/5 oz egg whites (4-5 eggs, refrigerated)
- 1 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar) (220g)
- 1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch, sifted
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1½ cups thickened cream/heavy cream (any whipping cream) (375ml)
- ¼ cup caster sugar (superfine sugar) (55g)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
- Fruit of choice. I used: raspberries, blueberries and grated chocolate
- Separate the whites and yolks while eggs are cold. Measure 150 ml/5oz egg whites (140 – 160ml is ok).
- While I was reading about this dessert, I read that you shouldn’t use fresh eggs. So if you have chickens, then hold onto your eggs for a few days before you make this dessert.
- 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.
- It took me about 20 minutes for the peaks to form. A stiff peak means you can hold it above your head without it falling on you.
- Add sugar 1 tbsp at a time, beating as you go.
- 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’s ready.
- Add cornflour and vinegar; beat on low for 5 – 7 seconds (or fold through with spatula) until just mixed through.
Making the Pavlova
- 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.
- Make sure you touch the meringue as little as possible.
- 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.
- 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 1½ hours – no peeking, no thundering through kitchen!
- Turn oven off, leave the door closed and leave pavlova in the oven overnight to cool (I’ve done 18 hours).
- Transfer pavlova 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.
- When you add the cream, do it gently. I plopped it down, which cracked my outer shell.
- 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 over-beat, it should be silky smooth, not speckled with bubbles and stiff.
Have you ever made something that looks so good you don’t want to eat it? That is what pavlova is, so simple yet so pretty you don’t want to slice into it. It has the creaminess of the middle of a s’more with the thin crisp crust. Then when you bite into it, you taste the tartness of the berries. A pavlova simply tastes like you are eating a cloud.