Pavlova is one of those recipes that some people are known for – we all have a Great Aunt Gertrude whose pav is a thing of family myth and legend – and others are terrified of. Truth is, pavlovas are a really, really easy to make as long as you don’t rush things. There’s no great secret to getting a perfectly crispy shell and a soft, marshmallowy centre – just patience and a few simple rules.
I made this one for my Beloved’s birthday earlier in the week:
What You Need:
160ml of eggwhites (Best from room temperature eggs)
1 ¼ cup of caster (aka superfine) sugar
2 teaspoons of white vinegar
2 ½ tablespoons of sifted cornflour
For Decoration: 250ml cream, a teaspoon of vanilla essence, a tablespoon of icing mixture and 3 Peppermint Crisp chocolate bars.
How it’s Done:
Pre heat oven to 130 degrees C.
160ml of eggwhite is what you’ll get from about 5 standard sized eggs. But as you can see from the photo – eggs at my place don’t exactly come in standard sizes! We keep our own backyard chickens in a couple of different breeds. So I find it’s much easier to measure the eggwhite instead of assuming 4 or 5 eggs will do it. Also, if you’re like me and useless at separating the whites from the yolk, check out this groovy little gadget that does the job for you. Easy!
Okay, so into a large mixing bowl, add your 160ml of eggwhite and, using an electric beater, mix on medium speed until the whites turn…well…white, with soft, foamy peaks. This will take about 4 or 5 minutes. Slowly add the caster sugar, a little at a time. Keep beating on medium to high in between sugar additions. Before adding the next lot of sugar, make sure the grains from the previous addition are completely dissolved.
(Hint: An easy way to do this is to rub a little between your forefinger and thumb. If it’s gritty, keep whisking.)
As you whisk, you’ll find the mixture growing and changing texture to a firm, glossy meringue. I find I’m usually whisking for at least 20 minutes.
(Hint: When you think it’s finally ready, take a spoonful and turn the spoon upside down – if it stays put and doesn’t drip, it’s done.)
Add the vinegar and cornflour and mix gently until combined.
On a round baking tray lined with baking paper, begin to pile up the mixture. Again, don’t rush this bit, make sure there’s no air left underneath, the sides are fairly straight and bear in mind that the meringue will spread a little as it bakes, so it’s better to pile it high. Add to the pre-heated oven, and turn the temperature down to 120 degrees C. Bake for 1 hour, 30 minutes. Turn the oven off, and open the door a little. This allows the pavlova to cool down slowly and there’s less chance of it crashing!
While the pav cools completely, head back to the electric beaters and whip up the cream. I find adding icing mixture helps to stabilise it a bit, and gives a thicker result (that one’s a hint from my Mum). Add vanilla, too. Crush the Peppermint Crisps by whacking them on the edge of the bench-top while they’re still in their packets. No mess!
Once your pav is cool, very, very carefully transfer it with a spatula to your serving plate. Break up the meringue on top, pile on the cream and sprinkle loads of the crushed up Peppermint Crisp, and you’re ready to go.
See? No great mystery there – but that’s not to say you have to admit there isn’t! Shhh…