How to make a Pavlova
So what is a pavlova? It is a meringue based dessert that has a crispy shell and a fluffy inside. You know you’ve succeeded if your end product has a snow white and crispy outside and a soft, pillowy inside. But no pressure, it’s super easy! ?
I recommend you read the whole recipe, then print it so you can write your own notes. All ovens are different, so if it’s your first time, you need to watch the colour closely. I say 120C but maybe you have a smaller oven, or your oven has hot spots, so you might need to turn it down to 100C. I know my oven well and leave mine at 100C, but in all the other ovens that I’ve baked in 120C no fan was the safer bet, now some ovens don’t let you turn the fan off, in this case you need to go for 90-95C. Obviously, you need an oven thermometer for this–and in my humble opinion, for baking in general. Baking requires precision and attention to detail, and having an oven thermometer gives the assurance that the oven is at the right temperature.
The best thing about a pavlova is you can simply change the toppings and garnish to what you have available. Fruit and cream are very popular but I like to use the egg yolks left from the egg whites, so I made a creme patissiere. Availability of fruit is different around the world and through the seasons, so don’t limit yourself to blueberries. I have another recipe that uses lemon cream, raspberries and peaches pictured below. You can shape it however you like as well, make it taller or wider, it’s all up to you.
I made a video to guide you through the most important part which is making the meringue. It’s very simple, but requires patience. The key is to whisk on medium not high speed and add the sugar slowly then make sure all the sugar is dissolved. For this recipe, it’s really handy to use caster sugar, but if you only have granulated, you can make it finer by pulsing it in the blender or food processor otherwise, the whisking may take up to 45 minutes. With caster sugar, mine takes about 23 minutes, and if I blend my caster sugar finer, 18 minutes.
Another thing people ask me is if they need a stand mixer and which one I recommend. I personally use Kenwood Chef Sense XL (pictured below) which I now have for 4 years. Keep in mind that I use it a lot and I also make dough, so the big capacity is great and it’s an investment for me. If you really want a Kitchenaid, I think the Kitchenaid Artisan KSM160 is good value because you get 2 size bowls for the price, and of course, you get to choose from an array of colours. However, if you’re just trying baking out, a hand mixer would do the job and save you $$$ if you realise it’s not for you. Before I bought my big mixer, I would knead my dough by hand and only had the Sunbeam Beatermix Pro, which I still keep in the drawer in case of emergency!
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Now you should be all set to make a beautiful pavlova! I’m always excited to know if you’ve had success and if you have any questions, so feel free to comment below or get in touch on Instagram by tagging @mrs.fancypants.recipes or using #mrsfancypants. Remember to have fun while you’re baking!
with Blueberries, Passionfruit & Creme Patissiere
- Creme Legere
- In a bowl of a stand mixer, with your whisk attachment, sprinkle the cream of tartar on top of the egg whites and start whisking on medium speed until it gets frothy.
- Gradually add a spoonful of sugar at a time. Do not rush this step, as you want the sugar to fully dissolve.
- Once you’ve added all the sugar, leave the mixer as it is and get your baking tray ready. I don’t have a silicone mat at home, so I normally use baking paper, and draw a circle with about 15cm diameter on it. I grease both sides of the baking paper and stick the side with the drawing on the baking tray so the ink doesn’t bleed into my pavlova. Greasing or spraying both sides with oil will help release your pavlova later, and also stops the paper from moving around while you’re working on your pavlova. More importantly, this will prevent cracking. Set your baking tray aside and preheat your oven to 120C no fan.
- Keep whisking until all the sugar is dissolved, you should see a glossy white meringue at this stage. You can test this by pausing the whisking and feeling the meringue between your forefinger and thumb. If you can’t feel anymore sugar crystals, then your meringue is ready. The amount of time this takes, depends on how fine your sugar is. I normally use superfine caster sugar and it takes me about 18 minutes to get to this stage at medium speed. Normal granulated sugar would take much longer. Remember to be patient.
- When your meringue is finally at the right stage, fold in the vinegar. You can use any WHITE vinegar you have on hand. You want the pavlova as white as snow and coloured vinegar gives it a tint.
- Sift the cornflour on top of the meringue and fold in gently, until it’s incorporated. Now you’re ready to shape your meringue.
- Pile the meringue in the centre of your circle. Then push it down to shape it using the circle as your guide. This way, you won’t have any air pockets. You can also put the meringue in a piping bag and pipe it into the shape and design you like.
- Now it’s time to turn your meringue into a beautiful pavlova. Put the tray in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Do not open the door and once the hour is finished, turn the oven off and leave your pavlova in the oven to cool down for at least 2 hours. If your oven runs hot, or if you have a smaller oven, check that your pavlova is not getting any colour, if it is, turn down the oven to 100C.
- While your pavlova is baking, make the creme patissiere: In a medium sauce pan, bring milk, cream and vanilla to the boil. Place the sugar, yolks and cornflour in a bowl then whisk until you have a thick, smooth paste.
- When the liquid boils, pour half very slowly into your egg yolk mix to temper the eggs while continuously whisking. It takes practice to do this on your own, but putting your bowl on a wet tea towel prevents it from slipping around while you whisk and pour at the same time.
- Once you've poured half of the liquid in, pour the egg mix back into the sauce pan with the rest of the liquid and keep whisking. This is now the base of your creme patissiere. Put the saucepan back on the stove over medium heat and keep whisking until the custard thickens and starts to bubble.
- Do not stop whisking until you see the custard bubble then count 2 minutes and take the sauce pan off the heat. Whisk in the butter.
- Pour the creme patissiere into a bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap is touching the whole surface. This is to prevent a custard skin from forming on top. Chill to 4C.
- By the time the pavlova cools down, the creme patissiere should also be cold. Make sure you assemble the just before serving your pavlova: Whip the remaining 150g thickened cream to soft peaks then fold into creme patisserie. Cut the passionfruit in halves and spoon out the pulp. Mix with blueberries then set aside. Place the pavlova on the serving platter. Dollop the creme patissiere on top of the pavlova by using a big spoon or use a piping bag to pipe it on top, or simply serve it on the side. Top with blueberries and passionfruit. Serve immediately.
- I recommend using caster sugar when making meringue based desserts because it dissolves faster since it has smaller granules. If you don't have caster sugar, you can pulse your granulated sugar until it's finer in a food processor or blender.