I have to be honest in saying that I was a bit of a late starter when it came to experimenting with making home-made pavlovas. I think it was just a case of not having enough confidence to make one, coupled with the fear of it looking awful because they look so delicate and hard to make. Also, my mother was a great cook, but a not so great baker. In fact, I don’t think she ever made a cake, let alone an extravagant pavlova, from scratch and she would sometimes buy those ready-mix sponges that you just add water or oil to, and then claim that she had made it herself (but in her defence, I think most of us have been guilty of doing this at some point too!) So, I used to buy pavlovas now and again from supermarkets in the frozen section, although I was never really impressed by them and I couldn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. However, that opinion changed so dramatically once I plucked up the courage to finally make one at home – (with the help of my 10 years old son!). I can’t tell you enough how incredibly proud I was of myself (and my son, of course!) with the finished result. Wow!
There was no special occasion for me to decide to make one. I just thought I would make it one Friday night for the family to enjoy on Saturday evening as a dessert. After doing research, I realised that all the recipes are near enough identical to each other and that it is the topping that you decide to put on your pavlova that makes it really different to others. Anyway, as soon as I took the first mouthful I instantly fell in love. It was love at first taste. I could not believe how amazingly delicious it was. It was so delicious that I vowed never to buy a ready-made frozen pavlova ever again and I am so excited at the thought of making more.
I was a bit worried when there were little cracks around my pavlova but after looking at pictures of them online I soon realised that this is perfectly normal. I hope you will also agree that those little cracks actually add to its final beauty and charm once decorated.
Note: you can choose either cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. I only had cider vinegar at the time of making it, but white wine vinegar is also widely used.
6 egg whites
tiny pinch of salt
1 ½ cups caster sugar
2 level tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
6 ripe passionfruit
1 ripe papaya
2 ripe mangoes
1 cup strawberries
420ml double cream
1 cup icing sugar
To make the meringue:
Preheat oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/gas 4. Line a baking tray with baking paper (I used a rectangular tray), and cut out a circle from another piece of paper using a dinner plate as a template. Place the cut-out circle on the lined tray.
Whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff. Slowly add the caster sugar a teaspoon at a time with the beater running. Beat at medium speed for 10 mins. Whisk in the cornflour and vinegar. Pour the mixture onto the circle cut-out and spread it out so that the edge of the pavlova is slightly raised than the centre. Bake it for 5 mins at 180°C and lower the temperature to 120°C/Fan. Bake for 1 hour. Leave it to cool overnight in the oven – this will ensure that the pavlova has a silky marshmallow texture inside, whilst having a delicately crisp outer layer.
To make the cream and fruit toppings:
Whip the cream with the icing sugar until stiff. Cut the passionfruit in half and scoop out the flesh into a wired sieve. With a spoon, press on the seeds to release as much of the juice as possible. Mix this juice with the cream and then spread it into the centre of the pavlova and carefully spread it a little outward towards the edges. Chop the mangoes, papayas and strawberries into whichever size you like and then scatter them onto the cream. Chill in the fridge for ½ hour before serving.