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Learn how to make Pavlova - the egg white meringue dessert named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Served with raspberry sauce.
Photography Credit:Elise Bauer
Please welcome pastry chef extraordinaire Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater who is our guest author for this article on Pavlovas. ~Elise
Pavlova: A History
It’s no coincidence the late Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, for whom the Pavlova dessert was named, is said to have been ethereal, delicate and slightly controversial. Her namesake, this simple confection, is a straightforward enough list of ingredients, but the end result is all about touch, finesse.
It has attracted more than its fair share of controversy. Two distinct neighboring countries take credit for invention and creation.
For sake of staying neutral, we will say both New Zealand and Australia are to blame for the delicious Pavlova; an edible translation of sugar turned into cumulous clouds, it is one of the best low-fat vehicles for seasonal fruit, whipped cream, sorbet, and ice cream.
Whether you hail from Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere, I hope you’ll attempt this gorgeous recipe. It’s a delightful dessert any time of year.
How to Make Pavlova: Working with Egg Whites
Sweet, crunchy, and meltingly soft, Pavlova is a reason for understanding the fickle, hard-working, all-purpose egg white.
You create your best egg white-based confections when you know how to treat this important part of the egg. An egg white is pure protein. When room temperature to begin with, egg whites will grow bigger and stronger with whipping.
For this reason, it’s best to start whipping egg whites on a lower speed, increasing incrementally as you get to the aspired consistency. I like to say I’m cajoling my egg whites into submission.
To achieve room temperature egg whites, take eggs out the night before you need them, or place in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes to take their chill off.
Make sure all bowls, hands, and utensils touching egg whites are as clean and free of random oils as possible. When separating eggs, crack in half and gently toss the yolk back and forth between the eggshell halves, dripping egg white out into a clean container.
If a bit of yolk drops into your pristine whites, fish it out with a clean eggshell. Hint: if a bit of shell gets in, they will sink to the bottom and be easy to spot and hold back when it comes time to use the egg whites.
Not sure what to do with the leftover egg yolks? Most custards like pastry cream or stovetop pudding are egg yolk based.
Recipe adapted from Flo Baker’s pavlovas in the San Francisco Chronicle: Fourth of July dessert has roots in Australia
Adding an acid such as cream of tartar (a dry acid) or vinegar will help give the meringue structure. You can use either. If you are using cream of tartar, mix it in with the egg whites from the beginning. If you are using vinegar, add it with the vanilla extract later in the process.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar OR distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
- Pinch salt
- 2 pints fresh or frozen berries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Whipped Cream for topping
1 Prep baking sheet, preheat oven: Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pour the vanilla extract and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
2 Whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using), salt, to soft peaks: In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
3 Increase speed, slowly add sugar-cornstarch mixture, then vanilla. Whip to stiff peaks: Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture.
A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn't use cream of tartar.)
Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
4 Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
5 Bake: Place baking sheet in the 275°F oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white -- not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency.
Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
6 Cool: Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
7 Serve topped with your favorite filling - lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream.
Sauce or Filling Directions
If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling aprt. Remove from heat and let cool.
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- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
- 1 pint blueberries
- Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 250 degrees with racks in the upper and lower third. Using a 3-inch bowl or round cutter, trace 6 circles on each of 2 sheets of parchment paper. Transfer each sheet of paper to a baking sheet tracing-side down.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and a pinch of salt on medium-high speed until soft, glossy peaks form. With mixer running, add granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat meringue on high until stiff and glossy, about 5 minutes more. Sprinkle in cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla gently fold to combine.
Using two spoons, scoop a mound of meringue in the center of each of the circles. Use the back of one spoon to create an indentation in the center of each mound. Transfer baking sheets to oven. Bake until firm and dry to the touch but not browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Turn off oven and let meringues cool for 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Whisk cream and confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Top meringues with a dollop of whipped cream and a spoonful of blueberries. Sprinkle lemon zest over berries. Serve immediately.
How to Make this Best Pavlova Recipe
- The egg whites need to come up to room temperature so that they whip better. The best solution is to separate the cold eggs first into a bowl, then bring the whites to room temperature.
- Initially, the egg whites need to be whisked until firm peaks appear. The best method to turn the bowl of eggs whites (very, very carefully) upside down. If they start to slip and slide, they need longer. If you can hold the bowl upside down and they don't move, they are whipped enough!
- Use a clean whisk and clean bowl, and there must be absolutely no egg yolk in the egg white mixture.
- The sugar needs to be incorporated well to avoid sugar syrup seeping out of the pavlova. A good indication is to get a little bit of the meringue and sugar mix and rub it gently between your thumb and finger. If it feels grainy, keep whisking.
- Once the sugar is incorporated keep whisking for around three minutes. This will really stiffen up the mixture and make it easy for shaping.
- Once the vinegar, vanilla and cornflour are added, you only need to whisk the mixture about 30 seconds more to ensure it is only just whisked in.
- Preparing the pavlova for the oven is important. I cut a piece of baking paper/parchment paper into a round sheet, and place it on a round pizza oven. To keep it in place, take a ¼ of a teaspoon of the meringue, and dab it onto four spots on the outside of the paper round to keep it in place.
- Shaping the pavlova is also important. I start by spooning all the pavlova mixture out onto my prepared oven tray. Then, using a spatula, I very carefully shape into a round shape. Start from the bottom, and make upward movements. The top will naturally form together. I don't tend to make a small mound in the middle because I find one naturally forms when the pavlova cools (see images for shaping!).
You can see the lines from the way you shape the pavlova. Start from the bottom and gently draw the spatula to the top of the pavlova
- Preheat the oven to 300F/150C first, then reduce the oven temperature to 250F/120C when you put the pavlova into the oven.
- Very important. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN throughout the cooking time! If you need to check on it, use the oven light, but do not open the oven!
- Also VERY IMPORTANT. Once the pavlova has had 1 hour and 15 minutes in the oven, turn the oven off and leave the pavlova to fully cool for around 2-3 hours. By allowing it to fully cool in the oven, you are reducing the chances of the pavlova cracking!
You can see the baked pavlova has settled leaving a slight indent in the top.
- Traditional toppings for pavlovas are cream and fruit. I love using a mixture of seasonal berries such as strawberries and blueberries. Passionfruit is also a good option, but personally, I don't think you can go wrong with cream and strawberries!
This best pavlova recipe is a must try if you are looking for a dessert that totally WOW's your guests! This serves up between 10-12 people, depending on serving size, and I guarantee everyone is going to absolutely love your show-stopping dessert!
- 3 egg whites
- 1 ¼ cups white sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet, line it with parchment paper and sprinkle a little water over paper.
In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in water, then mix in cornstarch, vanilla, vinegar and salt.
Pour entire meringue mixture onto the center of the pan. Pavlova will spread as it bakes.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Turn oven off and leave Pavlova in the oven until cold. Turn upside-down onto plate and top with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
- 6 egg whites
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream, chilled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
- 4 passion fruits
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease interior of 8 inch springform pan and dust lightly with cornstarch.
Beat egg whites, preferably in a glass or ceramic bowl, until stiff and glossy. Make sure egg whites have absolutely no contact with grease (fresh or residual), or even a speck of yolk. Combine cream of tartar, white sugar, and cornstarch gradually beat in to the egg whites. Sprinkle vinegar over egg white mixture, then fold it in very gently.
Pile meringue into prepared pan. Spread to the sides leaving a slight depression in the center. Place in preheated oven. Close the oven door, and immediately turn oven down to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Bake for 75 to 90 minutes. Open oven door, but leave meringue in the oven for 15 more minutes. Remove meringue to a draft free spot. Very carefully remove rim of springform pan, and allow meringue to cool completely. There may be a slight sinking in the center. Carefully remove meringue from pan base, and place on serving platter.
Whip cream, vanilla extract, and confectioners' sugar until thick and firm. Gently spread over the meringue.
Remove the pulp from the passion fruit, and spoon over cream. If using kiwi, peel and slice the fruit arrange slightly overlapping slices in a pleasing design. Chill until serving time.
Classic Pavlova Recipe
This is a classic Pavlova recipe of baked meringue filled with sweetened whipped cream and topped with fresh berries. It&rsquos simple, elegant, and delicious.
For the Pavlova
For the Toppings
- Homemade Whipped Cream
- 1/2 cup fresh berries, chopped
- Fresh Mint Leaves, for garnish
- Lemon Zest, for garnish
For the Pavlova
- Preheat the oven to 275F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
- In a large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed using a handheld or stand mixer.
- Add in the granulated sugar slowly-- it should take 2-3 minutes to add all of the sugar. Once all of the sugar is added, add the vanilla extract and whip until stiff peaks form.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and use a spoon or offset spatula to create a well in the center.
- Bake for 90 minutes or until the pavlova is firm and dry in the center but not brown on top.
- Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova to cool inside-- about 1-2 hours.
For the Toppings
- Make the homemade whipped cream.
- Pipe or spoon the whipped cream onto the pavlova and top with fresh berries, mint leaves, and lemon zest.
- Enjoy immediately.
- The pavlova shell can be made up to one day in advance but make sure to add the toppings just before serving so it doesn&rsquot get soggy.
- Read the TIPS section in the post for additional tips to make this recipe.
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Nutrition Facts are estimated and aren't always accurate. Please consult a doctor or nutritionist if you have special dietary needs. Calories do not include the whipped cream.
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Heyyy, I'm Shay! I'm a gluten free recipe developer and author The Gluten Free Quick Breads Cookbook. I will teach you how to make & bake THE BEST gluten free treats, baked goods & breads that are so good, your gluten-eating friends will be jealous. Let's making something great together!
This ethereal crown of meringue, filled with cream and berries is a Pavlova. The name comes from the ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who was performing around the world in 1926 and made a stop in the land down under. From there the details get a little fuzzy and no one is quite sure if it was a pastry chef from Australia or New Zealand who first made this dessert for her. It causes a heated debate amongst them if you declare it one way or the other, so I am staying vague on the origin. This is one of my favorite desserts, because I am a huge fan of meringue in just about any form. I love how it looks, how it tastes and the texture it lends. Pavlova, unlike other meringues, is made with vinegar and cornstarch, so the end result is crisp on the outside, but still has some tooth (chew) on the inside. Traditionally it is served with fruit, such as berries and passionfruit (that’s what is dripping off the edge) and whipped cream. I also added lemon curd, but there are no rules and you can fill this with whatever moves you.
The recipe is in Zoë Bakes Cakes and you can watch me make, shape and bake this Pavlova in my instagram video.
A winning combination of meringue, fruit and cream, the Pavlova was created in honour of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during one of her tours. The true origin of the dessert is a contentious topic, and both Australia and New Zealand lay claim to the Pavlova as one of their national dishes. Whatever its origins, a generously loaded Pavlova is the perfect dessert for looking impressive but actually being quite simple to prepare.
This collection of Pavlova recipes is full of fruity inspiration, whether you're looking for dainty desserts or showstopping centrepieces. Helen Jessup's strawberry Pavlova recipe is laced with Pimm's to make a wonderfully British summer dessert, while Victoria Glass' Black Forest Pavlova reinvents the classic German pudding in lighter meringue form. Karen Burns Booth's Spanische Windtorte is a large Pavlova cake, or for the perfect individual dessert try Tom Aikens' Mini Pavlova with lime curd and fresh fruit.
A stunning combination of crisp meringue, whipped cream, and fresh fruit, this is a dessert that pulls out all the stops.
- 3 large (106g) egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup (198g) Baker's Special Sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups (340g) heavy or whipping cream
- 1/4 cup (28g) confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups (283g) fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, sliced kiwi, etc)
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Prepare a sheet of parchment paper by tracing a 9" round circle on it and flipping it over onto a baking sheet. You should still be able to see the circle outline through the paper.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
Combine the sugar and cornstarch and gradually add it to the whites with the mixer running. The mixture will thicken and turn glossy. Beat for 1 more minute.
Spread the meringue into a round on the parchment, using the circle as a guide. Mound the outside edges higher to make a shallow "bowl."
Perfect your technique
Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the door closed. Leave the meringue in the oven for at least 1 hour, or as long as overnight it will color slightly from white to light tan (small cracks are normal).
Up to an hour before serving, combine the heavy cream with the confectioners' sugar and whip until thickened. Add the vanilla. Spoon the whipped cream into the center of the cooled pavlova and top with sliced fresh fruit.
Store refrigerated for up to one day once filled, the meringue will soften quickly.
Tips from our Bakers
Baker's Special Sugar is a much finer grind than regular granulated sugar and makes a difference in the outcome of the meringue. If you don't have Baker's Special or superfine sugar, process 2 cups of granulated sugar in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Measure out what you need for the recipe, and store the rest.
While superfine sugar is preferred in this recipe, confectioners' sugar may be substituted. Increase the amount of sugar to 1 1/2 cups (170g), and eliminate the cornstarch. Be sure to sift the confectioners' sugar before adding it to the whites.
A couple of visits by Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova to both Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s inspired this recipe, which each country now lays claim to. The original Down Under pavlova shapes meringue in a tall, round mound, a supposed salute to Pavlova’s tutu. Crisp on the outside and marshmallow-y within (rather than flat and crisp all the way through), it’s topped with the usual sliced stone fruit or berries. Watch pastry chef Gesine Bullock-Prado make a classic pavlova in this episode of the Isolation Baking Show.
Baking vegan? A good substitute for the egg whites in this recipe is aquafaba, the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas. Surprisingly, it whips into peaks just like egg whites! Substitute 2 tablespoons aquafaba for each large egg white for specifics on the technique read our blog post, A guide to aquafaba.
Preheat the oven to 150C/Fan 130F/Gas 2. Place a 25cm/10in dinner plate on a sheet of baking parchment and draw around it.
Put the egg whites in a large, clean bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk until stiff but not dry. They are ready when you can turn the bowl upside down without the eggs sliding out.
Gradually whisk in the sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, whisking for a few seconds between each addition. Adding the sugar slowly helps to build up volume in the meringue and make it stiff and shiny. Finally, whisk in the vanilla extract and cornflour until well combined.
Dab a small amount of the meringue in the corners of a large, sturdy baking tray or sheet. Position the baking parchment, drawn side down, on the baking sheet, using the meringue dabs to secure it to the tray. You should be able to see the circle through the paper.
Spoon the meringue into the circle and shape with the back of a serving spoon or rubber spatula to create a large meringue nest, with soft peaks rising on all sides. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour until very lightly coloured and crisp on the outside. (If the meringue seems to be becoming too brown, reduce the temperature of the oven). Turn the oven off and leave the meringue for a further hour.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
Up to 2 hours before serving, carefully release the meringue from the baking parchment, using a spatula if necessary, and place onto a large serving plate. Whip the cream until soft peaks form and spoon into the centre of the meringue. Top with the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, and the Cape gooseberries if using. Cut the passion fruit and scrape the pulp over.
Decorate with sprigs of mint and dust with sifted icing sugar to serve.
The meringue base for this pavlova can be made up to 8 hours in advance, simply top with cream and fruit just before serving.