This is the best pavlova recipe because it is sweet, marshmallowy in the center, crispy on the outside, and it is the perfect dessert to impress your guests! This dessert takes a little love and care to get it right, so read more below to understand how to make this foolproof pavlova.
What is Pavlova?
Through my research, I discovered that pavlova is a New Zealand dessert by origin, although many people think it is Russian or Australian. I always thought it was Russian because of the name, but nope!
The best pavlova recipe consists of egg whites, superfine sugar, vinegar or lemon juice, and cornstarch. Optional ingredients include cream of tartar and vanilla, but you will only use cream of tartar if you do not have vinegar or lemon juice on hand.
During my research, I realized that this recipe is fairly straight forward and doesn’t require too many ingredients. Most recipes are pretty similar, but it’s the technique that makes the difference between getting it wrong or right.
Making the best pavlova recipe requires some tender love and care. There are some common problems that can occur, so let’s take a look at what you need to do to make a foolproof pavlova every time.
Problem: My Pavlova is Weeping 🙁
No need to cry! You and your pavlova will both be happier once you understand the culprit to this common problem.
The pavlova meringue weeps if the sugar doesn’t dissolve properly during the mixing process. During baking, the undissolved sugar attracts moisture in the meringue, and then it causes the sugary moisture to seep out.
Fix: Make sure the sugar fully dissolves after adding each tablespoon. You can test meringue by rubbing it between two fingers. If it feels grainy, keep mixing and test again to see if the pavlova meringue is smooth.
Also, humidity can cause all sorts of problems with meringue or pavlovas baking properly. Only make pavlova or meringue of any kind on a dry day, and you will eliminate a big obstacle.
Problem: Pavlova is soggy.
This also occurs when the sugar isn’t dissolved properly. The bottom of the pavlova becomes soaked with the liquid sugar, and then it is not longer crisp and airy.
Fix: Dissolve the sugar completely during mixing.
Problem: Why is my Pavlova flat?
If too much air is incorporated into the meringue, then it can flatten as the air escapes during baking.
Another reason a pavlova flattens is because the pavlova cools too quickly. If it cools quickly, the interior will shrink and pull the outside of the meringue inward and downward, leaving you with a very sad looking but still tasty dessert.
Fix: Mix the meringue on medium low speed the entire time so that the mixer doesn’t incorporate too much air and bubbles.
On a 10 speed mixer, this means staying at a 3 or 4. I know, it might seem like mixing the pavlova takes forever, but it is worth it when your dessert doesn’t fall flat after all of your hard work!
In addition, let the pavlova dry out in the oven after it’s done baking. If you take it out too soon, the cold air can cause it to shrink and collapse as well. To be safe, let it dry out and gradually cool in the oven for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Problem: Why is Pavlova cracking?
Pavlova cracks if the temperature is too hot during baking. When the temperature is too high, the inside of the pavlova rises too quickly, and the exterior cracks because of the expanding interior. Hence, it cracks and becomes a bit misshaped.
Fix: Bake at a lower temperature. Each oven is different, so use a thermometer to test the actual temperature of your oven to see if it runs hotter or colder than what it’s supposed to be. Also, drop your temperature 25 degrees next time to see if that slows the rising process.
Problem: My eggs won’t whip up.
A dirty bowl, dirty whisk attachment, or oils from your hands are the culprit. If there is even a trace of oil or fat in the bowl, the meringue has no chance of whipping. The oil interferes with the process, and the egg whites turn white but stay runny.
Fix: To prevent runny egg whites, wash and clean the bowl and whisk attachment, and then use lemon juice or vinegar to clean the bowl as well just to be certain it is clean.
Problem: Pavlova is browning
This is also a temperature issue. If the temperature is too high, then the exterior of the pavlova will brown.
Fix: Lower the temperature. In general, if you temperature is above 250 once the pavlova is in the oven baking, then the temp is way too hot!
How to Make Classic Pavlova
- To make a classic pavlova, start with egg whites that are room temperature because they will whip up better.
- Never mix the meringue above a number 4 on a 10 speed mixer because a higher speed incorporates too much air.
- Make sure that the sugar fully dissolves, otherwise it may weep and dry out the meringue inside of the pavlova.
- Bake at a low temperature for a long period of time, and then let the pavlova rest in the oven for at least 6 hours or overnight if possible. If you take the pavlova out too soon, the interior can shrink due to the quick temperature change from the oven temp. to your kitchen temp.
- Put the whipped cream and fruit on right before serving because as soon as the toppings go on, the pavlova starts to soften. We want the exterior to stay crisp for serving!
- Pavlova is best eating within one to two days.
How to Create a Beautiful Pavlova
- This wouldn’t be the best pavlova recipe if it didn’t include instructions for making it look beautiful too. In order to create a pretty pavlova, you need an offset or straight spatula.
- Next, draw an 8 inch circle on a piece of parchment on a sheet pan, and the, flip the parchment over so that the circle is on the bottom.
- Spoon the meringue into the center of the circle and use the offset spatula to smooth the meringue out to fill the circle. Run the spatula around the outside of the meringue as if you are crumb coating a cake, meaning the spatula should be vertical and forming a smooth meringue along the sides.
- Next, use the tip of the spatula to make upward furrows in the pavlova, creating beautiful upward folds.
- Smooth out the top of the pavlova so that it is flat or so that it is like a shallow bowl.
Essential Baking Tools for this Recipe
- A large offset spatula for making a beautiful pavlova
- Parchment paper to fit a half sheet pan
- My favorite stand mixer, or this stand mixer for a more budget friendly but still amazing option
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- 6 (190-200 grams) egg whites, aged for 2–7 days, room temperature
- 11 ounces (310 grams) superfine sugar(caster sugar)
- 2 1/4 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- Fresh whipped cream
- Berries or other fruit, macerated if desired.
- Preheat oven to 275 and prepare 1 half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Draw an 8 inch circle on the parchment, then flip the parchment over so the pencil side is down on the half sheet pan.
- Next, clean your mixing bowl and whisk with some vinegar or lemon juice to get rid of any oils.
- Add the room temperature egg whites* to the mixing bowl and mix on speed 4 for a 10 speed mixer.
- Once soft peaks form, begin adding the sugar** 1 tablespoon at a time every 30-60 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl 4-5 times when adding the sugar so that all of the sugar gets mixed in. If any sugar remains undissolved, this will cause the mini lemon pavlovas to weep.
- Mix on speed 4 until stiff peaks form, which takes about 25-35 minutes from start to finish. To test for stiff peaks, lift the whisk attachment out of the bowl and see if the pavlova meringue stands up straight. If not, mix longer until stiff peaks.
- Add the cornstarch and lemon juice and mix for about 30 seconds.
- Spoon the meringue onto the parchment in the circle, keeping it high.
- Gently spread the meringue out to fill the circle and make upward furrows around the sides so that it helps the meringue to rise up and not outward.
- Make the top of the pavlova flat or slightly like a bowl.
- Place the pavlova in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 200 degrees. Bake for 90 minutes, then turn the oven off, and let the pavlova rest in the oven for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Do NOT open the oven for any reason once the pavlova is in the oven, otherwise it can deflate. Keep the oven closed until the pavlova has baked and cooled completely.
- Right before serving, top the pavlova with whipped cream and fresh fruit of your choice. Do not put the toppings on the pavlova far in advance because it starts to soften the exterior of the pavlova, and it will not be super soft after an hour or two.
- You can make the pavlova a day ahead store it in an airtight container without the toppings, but it is best eaten within 1-2 days.
*If you do not have time to age the egg whites, that is okay. I have used un-aged whites, and it still works. You just have more moisture to deal with, so be aware of that. Use room temperature whites no matter what though because they whip up better and fuller than cold egg whites.
**If you cannot find superfine sugar, process granulated sugar in a food processor. Don’t try to turn it into powdered sugar, but instead pulse it a few times until it makes smaller granules.
Keywords: pavlova, classic pavlova recipe, meringue