Pavlova, affectionately known as ‘pav’, is a classic Australian dessert made from egg whites, sugar, cream, and fruit. When I was growing up, my grandmother taught me everything she knew about how to make the perfect pavlova.
Pavlova is an Aussie classic featured on any Australian Christmas dinner table!
Every Christmas my siblings and I would be treated to my Grandmother’s delicious baked dinner, with meatloaf, peas, lashings of gravy, and of course, and the best pavlova ever!
Unfortunately, my grandmother hasn’t been with us for some time, but thankfully she passed all of her wisdom (and recipes) onto my mother before departing this world. And recently when my parents came to visit me, I begged my mum to give me Granny’s classic pavlova recipe to share with my worldwide online community.
Here’s how to make the perfect Aussie pavlova from home!
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How to Prepare the Perfect Pavlova
About the Dish
Pavlova is a light, fluffy and fruity dessert, with a marshmallow centre that is traditionally a feature at a typical Aussie family Christmas dinner table.
There is some contention whether the origins of the pavlova actually came from Australia or New Zealand. It’s a hotly debated topic, but no one really knows the pavlova’s true beginnings.
This recipe is gluten-free, and can easily be made lactose free (just substitute the cream for lactose free cream).
Pavlova is a very easy dessert to make, but it can also be very easy to screw it up. By following the tips below, you’ll be able to nail your first ever pav.
Tips & Tricks for Nailing the Perfect Pavlova Base
The best pavlova recipe always starts with a well-prepared base. It should be soft and marshmallowy on the inside, with a hard, slightly browned outer shell.
Achieving the perfect pavlova base can be a little tricky. Before you get started, take note of these few tips on how to make the perfect pavlova base:
- Avoid moisture at all costs. Ensure the mixing bowl and whisk are well and truly dry before you start whisking.
- Bring egg whites up to room temperature before you begin whisking.
- Take care to ensure that absolutely no egg yolk makes its way into the bowl when separating the eggs.
- Add the sugar to the egg mixture slowly and whisk for a few minutes to ensure all the sugar has dissolved. Take a pinch of the mixture between your fingers, if it feels grainy keep whisking.
- When forming the pavlova base, heap the mixture onto the centre of a tray and pile as high as you can. Then, use a spatula to shape around the edges and upwards to create peaks. It should look like a crown with crests around the outside and a well in the centre (to hold the fruit topping).
- Avoid opening the oven during cooking. Use the oven light instead to check on the pav.
- Once the pavlova has finished baking, turn off the oven and leave the pav inside to cool for a few hours. This helps to prevent the pavlova base from cracking. If you’re oven tends to steam up, open the door slightly to avoid moisture.
- Top the pavlova with cream and fruit just prior to serving.
A classic pavlova recipe is normally finished with lashings of whipped cream and loads of fruit. For this recipe, I used a mixture of berries, but here are a few variations that also work really well:
- Sliced mango cheeks and blackberries
- Pineapple pieces, passionfruit and lime zest
- Sliced banana, strawberries and passionfruit
- Banana and caramel (for a gluten free take on a Banoffee Pie)
- Mixture of berries – strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries etc.
Classic Aussie Pavlova Recipe
Serves: 6-8 | Preparation Time: 20 minutes | Cooking Time: 1 hour | Cuisine: Australian | Course: Dessert
For Pavlova Base:
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp white vinegar
For Pavlova Topping:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- Fruit for serving
- Preheat oven to 120°C (250°F).
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Whisk egg whites and a pinch of salt in a mixer bowl until stiff peaks form.
- Gradually add the sugar, ¼ cup at a time, whisking for about 1 minute between each addition. Whisk the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved and the meringue looks thick and glossy (approximately 2-3 minutes).
- Combine the cornflour, vinegar, and vanilla in a bowl and add to the meringue mixture. Whisk until just combine.
- Spoon the meringue mixture onto the baking tray, piling as high as possible. Using a spatula, gently shape the meringue into a circle and sweep upwards to form hard peaks around the edge. The pavlova should look like a crown with crests around the outside and a well in the centre.
- Place the pavlova in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour. The pavlova shell should be lightly browned all over.
- Turn off the oven and leave the pav inside to cool for a few hours. Avoid opening the oven door if possible. This helps to prevent the pavlova base from cracking.
- Meanwhile, combine cream, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Be sure not to over-beat or the cream will start turning lumpy.
- Spoon the whipped cream on top of the pavlova base in the centre of the crown.
- Layer a mixture of fruit on top of the cream.
This classic pavlova recipe is so easy to make and is the perfect dessert for an Australia-themed dinner party. It’s sure to wow your dinner guests!
If making pavlova for a larger party, or family Christmas celebration, I would recommend doubling this recipe.
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About the Author:
Amanda Twine is the founder and creator of Bucket List Seekers – a luxury travel blog sharing informative travel guides, food guides, hotel reviews, itineraries and tips about how to make luxury travel more affordable.