Pavlova is a quintessentially Kiwi dessert and perfect for any summer celebration. It’s a lovely light way to finish off a meal and you can top it with your favourite seasonal fruits.
I’ve made hundreds of pavlovas in my time. The Fantasy Pavlova on my website is still earning rave reviews, but I think the Ultimate Pavlova in my new summer annual A Free Range Life: Celebrate Summer! is my best pav recipe yet. It's so simple as you just add all the ingredients at the one time
– no drip-feeding the sugar one spoonful at a time!
We tested the Ultimate Pavlova rigorously to make sure it was deserving of its name, so I've got plenty of tips to ensure that you make the perfect pav every time.
Pointers for the perfect pavlova
- Try to avoid making pavlovas or meringues on humid days as they often sink after cooking.
- An electric beater is necessary to get real volume for a good pavlova.
- Be scrupulously fussy that your equipment is very clean – you don’t want even a skerrick of fat on the beater or mixing bowl as even the tiniest bit of fat will deflate your egg whites. If you're unsure
a quick wash with a little vinegar and water should remove any grease.
- Always use baking paper to line your trays for easy removal. Draw a circle on the paper to use as
a guide, either using a compass or by drawing around a bowl or plate with a pen or pencil. Flip the paper over before adding your meringue mixture, so the pen or pencil doesn’t transfer to the pavlova.
- For best success the egg whites must not be too fresh – at least seven days old is best – as fresh whites make the mixture “bleed” a clear liquid. Make sure they’re at room temperature before you begin too.
- Separate your eggs carefully as any trace of yolks in your egg whites can prevent your whites from whipping up properly. Separating each egg into a small bowl before transferring it to your larger bowl saves any yolky disasters.
- Your meringue mixture should be glossy and voluminous. To check if it's ready, rub a little between your fingers to see if you can still feel any sugar grains. If you can, keep beating. It is possible to overbeat the meringue, though. If it starts to lose its gloss and look a little curdled you might have gone too far.
- When your pavlova is cooked turn off the oven and leave it to cool without opening the door – preferably overnight.
- Don't panic if your pav comes out of the oven with a few cracks in the crust – it's perfectly normal. Just pile it high with softly whipped cream and fruit and it will look superb!
- You can make a pav in advance, store it in an airtight container (or even freeze it) and just add the cream and fruit topping before serving so it’s the perfect make-ahead dessert for entertaining.