Pavlova cake hails from Australia and New Zealand. Taking only five ingredients to make the basic cake is not a difficult recipe to follow but, it must be followed precisely to achieve the desired result. The result is a cake the is crispy on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow-like in the center.
4 large egg whites at room temperature (Save the egg yolks to make lemon curd if desired)
1 cup (200g) superfine sugar (You can make superfine sugar by putting granulated sugar in a food processor and pulsing a few times)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Homemade whipped cream,
Fresh fruit, strawberry topping, lemon curd, or any desired topping
- 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.)
- 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 at high speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cream of tartar and cornstarch.
- 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 well in the center.
- 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.
- 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.
- Once cool, top the pavlova with whipped cream and assorted toppings. Slice and serve.
Homemade Whipped Cream
1 cup (240ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar or granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until medium peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Medium peaks are between soft/loose peaks and stiff peaks and are the perfect consistency for topping and piping on desserts.
- Use immediately or cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Freezing prepared whipped cream sometimes causes it to lose its creamy texture, but it works.
Homemade Lemon Curd
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2–3 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- Fill the bottom pot of your double boiler with 1-2 inches of water. (Or use a glass or ceramic bowl placed in a metal pot. Glass, ceramic, and silicon tools will reduce any metallic taste from forming) Place on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to low heat to keep the water at a simmer.
- Place egg yolks, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into the top pot of your double boiler. Using a silicone whisk, whisk until completely blended, then continue to whisk as the curd cooks. Constant whisking prevents the egg yolks from curdling. Whisk and cook until the mixture becomes thick, resembling the texture of hollandaise sauce, about 10 minutes. If the curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.
- Remove pan from heat. Cut the butter into 6 separate pieces, then whisk into the curd. The butter will melt from the heat of the curd. Pour curd into a jar or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so it is touching the top of the curd. (This prevents skin from forming on top.) The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool, the plastic wrap can be removed.
- Refrigerate the curd for up to about 10 days.