Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Pavlova

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Another fresh and exciting recipe for you this year! 2018: the year we step out of our baking comfort zone.

What is pavlova? Pavlova is a dessert popular in New Zealand and Australia. It’s not as common here in the states, but I hope to help change that! A texture freak’s dream come true, pavlova is made from egg whites that are slowly baked in a relatively cool oven. The egg whites take on a chewy-crisp texture on top, a soft marshmallow texture inside, and a crunchy crisp texture around the edges. That’s three completely different textures in one single bite. The crunchy edges are just like meringue cookies.

Pavlova loves to be dressed up with assorted toppings, mainly fresh whipped cream and piles of fresh fruit. Naturally gluten free, pavlova is light, sweet, and screams warm weather favorite. Happy spring, my friends, we’re making PAVLOVA!!

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I first experienced pavlova back in 2015 on a trip to Wenatchee, a city full of rolling hills and farmlands in Washington state. We visited the Stemilt orchards, home to some of the largest, juiciest cherries. There I tasted it with chunks of fresh mango and plenty of soaked cherries. After the trip, a reader emailed me her family favorite pavlova recipe. And 2 and 1/2 years later, I finally tried it myself.

To obtain the unique pavlova texture, you must adhere to an exact recipe. While it’s fun to play around with ingredients, pavlova is not the time to stray from what’s listed. It’s picky, but picky doesn’t mean difficult. In fact, you only need 5 ingredients to make pavlova and I bet you have each in your kitchen right now:

  • egg whites
  • sugar
  • an acid such as cream of tartar or vinegar
  • cornstarch
  • vanilla extract

Let me explain why these ingredients are used.

THE PURPOSE OF EACH

  1. Egg whites – beaten into stiff peaks, egg whites are the base and volume of pavlova.
  2. Sugar – in addition to sweetening the dessert, sugar stabilizes the egg whites by holding them together both in the oven and as the whole pavlova cools. Without sugar, the protein molecules (science!) in egg whites will collapse. Additionally, sugar helps achieve the delightfully crisp texture. (Sugar is so much more than a sweetener in our baked goods. I find this article interesting and you will too!) Speaking of sugar, make sure that you use superfine or castor sugar. Just pulse sugar a few times in a food processor to reduce the size of the crystals.
  3. Acid – you can use 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon white, apple cider vinegar, or even lemon juice. The pavlova will NOT taste like vinegar, I promise. The acid helps the egg whites hold onto air and, like the sugar, helps prevent the egg whites from collapsing. I tested with both and I actually prefer cream of tartar. I found that my pavlova spread a bit more when I used liquid acid.
  4. Cornstarch – I tested pav with and without cornstarch. I found that the center was fluffier and more marshmallow-y with cornstarch. Then I tested with 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. I found it was a little chalky tasting with 2 teaspoons. I’m sticking to 1 teaspoon.
  5. Vanilla extract – purely for flavor!

(Not sponsored by any of these companies, but here’s exactly what I use.)

Ingredients for pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Ingredients are simple and method is effortless. There’s plenty of downtime when making pavlova. All you really have to do is watch it beat in your stand mixer then check on it in your oven. Kick your feet up!

How to make pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Just like the meringue on top of our lemon meringue pie, whip the egg whites into super stiff peaks. Stiff enough that you can hold the whisk over your head and feel confident that the whipped egg whites won’t drop. 😉 Then you’ll spread the pavlova mixture onto your lined baking pan. You can use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Do not grease the baking pan– use a nonstick surface instead. Spread it into a circle, about 8-9 inches in diameter. You can eyeball it or trace one with a pencil. I just eyeball it. Like I did in the lemon meringue pie video, use the back of a spoon to create decorative peaks. Make sure the edges are tall and you have a nice dip in the center. That’s were we’ll pile our whipped cream and fruit!

Alternatively, you can make mini pavlovas. Here I piped the mixture into 6 mini pavlovas using Ateco 849. A piping tip isn’t necessary– you can just spoon it on. Again, make sure you leave a dip in the center to hold the toppings.

How to make mini pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

A relatively cooler oven is imperative for properly cooking your pavlova, but let’s start the pavlova at 350°F (177°C) then reduce it down to 200°F (93°C). I do this to help “set” the outer crust quickly. This trick helps reduce spread.

A properly cooked pav is pale in color. Cracks and bumps are par for the course, but the pavlova shouldn’t completely deflate. Especially if you follow the precise measurements and instructions in the recipe. You can help avoid too many cracks by cooling the pavlova in the oven. The sudden change of temperature (inside the oven to outside the oven) shocks the pavlova, so it’s best to cool inside the cooling oven.

Make sense?

How to make pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Toppings for pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

You can top your pavlova or mini pavlovas any which way, but here are some of my topping suggestions:

  • Whipped cream is essential. You can get a little creative and flavor your whipped cream. Here are some fun flavored whipped creams.
  • Homemade lemon curd. You’ll have exactly 4 egg yolks leftover anyway.
  • Fresh berries
  • Edible florals and herbs
  • Strawberry compote
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Seasonal fruits like mango, kiwi, passionfruit, blood oranges

No need to get artistic, just pile it all on top into a massive pavlova mountain.

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Things are bound to get a little messy when slicing, but if you cooked the pavlova long enough so that the bottom is crisp and the edges are set, it will hold a pie slice shape. This big thing serves about 8-10 people!

If you’re still on the fence about trying pavlova, might I remind you that the center tastes like marshmallows. ♥ ♥ ♥

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Have fun!

Pavlova

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites (use the yolks for lemon curd!)*
  • 1 cup (200g) superfine sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar*
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Whipped Cream + Toppings

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (300ml) heavy cream
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fresh fruit, lemon curd, or any desired topping (see post for suggestions)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (Preliminary note: you will quickly reduce the oven to 200°F (93°C) in step 4.)
  2. With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar in 2 additions, beating for 30 seconds between, then continue beating on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form, about 2 more minutes. The peaks should be stiff enough that you can hold the whisk upright and the peaks won't move. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 1 more minute. The peaks should still be very stiff. If not, keep on mixing on high speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cream of tartar and cornstarch.
  3. Spread the pavlova mixture into an 8-9-inch circle (see note for mini size). You can make decorative peaks with the back of a large spoon if desired. Make sure the edges are relatively tall and there is a nice dip in the center.
  4. Place pavlova in the oven. As soon as you close the oven door, reduce heat to 200°F (93°C). The pavlova will stay in the oven as it cools down to 200°F (93°C). Bake until the pavlova is firm and dry, about 90 minutes total. Rotate the baking sheet if you notice some spots browning. Try to limit how many times you open the oven as the cool air will interrupt the baking.
  5. Turn the oven off and let the pavlova cool inside the oven. Once the pavlova is cool, you can store it covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days. Or serve right away.
  6. Make the whipped cream: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. You can use right away or cover and store in the refrigerator for a few days.
  7. Once cool, top the pavlova with whipped cream and assorted toppings. Slice and serve.

Make ahead tip: See step 5 for making the pavlova in advance. Pavlova is best enjoyed right after it's garnished. It doesn't freeze well.

Recipe Notes:

Egg whites: (1) Room temperature egg whites whip faster than cold egg whites. And (2) room temperature egg whites whip into a greater volume than cold egg whites. So make sure your egg whites are at room temperature before beginning.

Sugar: Superfine sugar dissolves easier into egg whites. To avoid tasting sugar granules, pulse 1 cup granulated sugar a few times in a food processor. You now have superfine sugar to use in the recipe.

Acid: You can use 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.

Mini pavlovas: Divide pavlova mixture up into individual portions instead of spreading into one large 8-9-inch circle. In the photos, I piped the mixture into 6 mini pavlovas using Ateco 849. A piping tip isn't necessary-- you can just spoon it on. Make sure you leave a dip in the center to hold the toppings. Bake time depends on size, see step 4 for what to look for. If making 6 mini pavlovas like I did, bake for 35-40 minutes at 200°F (93°C). Start them in a 350°F (177°C) oven, like I do in this written recipe.

Pavlova base from reader Laurel. Thanks Laurel!

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Baking Sheet | Marble Cake Stand

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

90 comments

  1. I made this yesterday and it turned out beautifully!! I topped it with almond whipped cream, raspberries and blackberries(cuz thats what i had on hand) my family was very impressed. I’ll definitely try it again!

  2. I love pavlova! But I don’t care for whipped cream so I usually top it with vanilla custard and fresh berries instead. Delicious! Thanks for sharing and reminding me of a yummy recipe I haven’t made in years. I’ll have to remedy that and make it this weekend.

  3. Wow, it looks really good! I have never tried this dessert before.
    Would love if you could check out my blog that I have recently launched. Thanks!!

  4. Ahhh Pavlova… never experienced this impressive dessert, but you made a babka lover out of me .I’m sure this Pavlova will be a favorite til your next fantastic culinary delight! Your blog has literally changed my life, I’m a baking fool,…. retirement and crossing things off my bucket list is such fun. Thank you, Sally!

  5. Thanks for the fantastic post Sally. I’m I need Australia and this certainly is a staple a any Christmas and celebration.
    Your recipe is exactly the same as my Mum’s that i use all the time (it’s even in my profile pic on my website lol).
    Thank you for including the reason each ingredient is used. I always follow Mum’s recipe to a tee, but never knew why I had to add vinegar!
    Thanks again, Laurel

  6. I’m so excited to try this! If I wanted to cut the recipe in half, how would that effect my baking time?

  7. So picture perfect, love the pretty fruit topping!

  8. The best way to make Pavlova, according to Delia Smith – a much respected cookery writer int he UK – is to make it in the evening, then leave the Pavlova in the switched-off oven overnight to cool.  Just her little tip.

    I make Pavlova quite often, and if you use golden caster sugar, which is less refined, or even light muscovado sugar, it gives the meringue a slight caramel flavour, which is no bad thing.  However, in our house it only ever gets topped with whipped cream, with a raspberry sauce (and sometimes fresh fruit) served on the side, because I have fussy non-soft-fruit eaters to cater for…sigh…

  9. When you say in let the “pavlova cools inside,” do you mean inside the oven?

  10. Today’s my birthday, and Pavlova is my favorite dessert of all time. I believe it originated in Australia (it was developed in honor of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova when she visited there in the 1920’s) and my Aussie mum-in-law made it for me when we lived in Australia, not long after my husband and I got married. I had it one time and I was hooked! Dee-licious! We moved back to the States in 1994, though, and I haven’t had it since. I’ll definitely be making this one. It’s virtually identical to her recipe, as far as I can recall. Thank you so much for posting it!

  11. Hi Sally, this looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it! I want to make it for a Passover Seder this weekend, but cornstarch isn’t kosher for Passover- could I use potato starch instead or would that change the flavor/texture of the bake?

  12. Hi there, Pavlova is as Aussie as football (Australian Rules footy) and meatpies! My parents migrated to Australia in the late 1950s and we were introduced to the “Pav” by our Australian neighbours, God bless them.  It’s present at many gatherings and is part of the gastronomic memories of most of us, along with trifle. There is a variation of this dessert, which is the Pavlova Roll. It is made using the same principles for a Sponge Roll. Yummy. Long live the Pav! Thanks  for your great recipes and all the wonderful tips and explanations. 

  13. Hi Sally, 
    I will be baking this tonight to serve for Easter tomorrow. I have read several comments and reviews elsewhere and am wondering if it should be room temperature or in a fridge? I am planning to leave it in the oven overnight then wrap it in the morning before it is served in the evening… 
    can’t wait to try! 

    • Hi Lauren! I didn’t work on Easter, so I’m just seeing your question now. You can serve this at room temperature, which is what I usually do.

  14. I made this yesterday for Easter dessert and it was a hit. I topped it with homemade vanilla pudding and whipped cream, then with fresh berries. I had never heard of it before you posted the recipe, so thanks for giving me something new to try.

  15. Hi Sally
    I tried this beautiful recipe today. Unfortunately, the Pavlova stuck to the baking sheet so that when I tried to remove it, it was mostly destroyed. The centre was still moist – do I have to bake it fully through and how do I know when this is the case? I used more time than stated in the recipe, but probably that depends on the oven (we have an electric oven).

    • Hi Steffi! Did you use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat? The center will be a little moist and marshmallow-y. The outer edges will be set and won’t stick to your fingers.

      • Hi Sally 
        I used parchment paper. Funny enough, the pavlova was dry on the (thicker) edges and moist/chewy in the centre (which was the thinnest part, though)

  16. Made this today for my mom’s birthday! It’s a favorite in our family, and I was so happy you posted a recipe for it! We like things a little darker, so I topped it with your red wine chocolate ganache and blackberries. So amazing! I probably could have halved the ganache recipe because I have lots leftover, but I’m using it to top some healthy zucchini brownies. Balance, right? https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2018/01/15/red-wine-chocolate-ganache/

  17. Hey, Sally! Where did you get your cute cake stand? You’re recipes are amazing! Thanks 🙂

  18. Looking forward to trying this recipe. What is your opinion on using egg whites from a carton in recipes like this? Just curious.

    • I’ve never tried it, but from what I’ve read it’s completely fine. But, again, I’ve never tried it. Let me know if you do!

  19. I made this for Easter dessert, and everyone loved it! My daughter wants pavlova at her birthday party so if I want to quadruple this recipe, could I bake all 4 pavlovas at once or how would you bake 4 pavlovas if you wanted them all to taste fresh?

    • Hi Amber! I would try to bake them all at once if you can. They’ll take a little longer in the crowded oven though. I’m unsure of the exact bake time.

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