How to make the ultimate pavlova

To replicate the cover, add sticky roasted rhubarb and toffee shards to the berry garnish.
To replicate the cover, add sticky roasted rhubarb and toffee shards to the berry garnish. Photo: William Meppem

The great Antipodean pav is one of the classic recipes of Christmas; a marvel of culinary engineering, from its light and fluffy interior to its crisp, crunchy shell.

Here's how to achieve a spectacular result without you – or it – going into meltdown.

Mixed berry pavlova

INGREDIENTS

Masterclass: Pavlova

Video brought to you by Harvey Norman.

  • 6 egg whites (65g eggs), at room temperature
  • 250g (1 cup) castor sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 level tbsp cornflour
  • 250ml (1 cup) thick cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 100g natural yoghurt
  • mint leaves, to serve

Mixed berry sauce

  • 250g raspberries, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 250g strawberries, rinsed, hulled and halved

METHOD

  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper and draw a 23cm diameter circle in the centre. Heat oven to 150C (130C fan-forced).
  2. Using an electric beater, beat egg whites in a clean, dry glass or metal bowl at medium speed until firm peaks form on top. Add the castor sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating for at least 30 seconds after each addition. Beat until the meringue is stiff, shiny and no longer grainy. Beat in the vanilla extract and vinegar. Sift the cornflour over the top and beat until mixed well.
  3. Spoon the meringue mixture onto the tray, using the circle as a guide. Using a spatula knife, draw the mixture from the bottom up the sides to shape into a round.
  4. Place in the lower rack of the oven and immediately reduce temperature to 120C (100C fan-forced). Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until crisp outside (but not coloured), then turn off oven and leave to cool completely.
  5. To make the mixed berry sauce, put half the raspberries and all the icing sugar in a small food processor and briefly whiz until mixture forms a puree. Push the puree into a bowl through a sieve. Add the strawberries and remaining raspberries to the bowl and toss to combine.
  6. Using an electric beater, beat the cream with the icing sugar to firm peaks. Beat in the yoghurt until well combined. Refrigerate until needed.
  7. To serve, gently top the cooled pavlova with large spoonfuls of the cream (if the meringue cracks, glue together with cream mixture). Spoon the berries and their sauce on top of the pavlova, scatter with mint leaves and dust with extra icing sugar. (Or you can serve the berries and sauce separately, if you prefer.)

Serves 6-8

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Tips:

  • Do not open the oven door during baking, or the pavlova will collapse.
  • Egg whites should be fresh and at room temperature. Beat them until they form firm upright peaks before adding the sugar.
  • Add the sugar a spoonful at a time and beat until the meringue no longer feels grainy when you rub a little between thumb and forefinger.
  • Vinegar helps to stabilise the egg whites, and cornflour helps prevent the meringue from weeping.
Jill Dupleix recipe: Pavlova masterclass
Photography by William Meppem (photographer on contract, no restrictions)

Use those leftover egg yolks for lemon curd (pictured top right). Photo: William Meppem

Mix it up

  • Don't waste those leftover egg yolks. Use for custard, mayo, hollandaise or creme brulee – or make a lemon curd to serve with the pav.
  • To make lemon curd, whisk 4 egg yolks with 100g castor sugar until smooth. Heat the mixture gently in a pan with the zest of two lemons and 100g chopped butter, whisking until smooth. Add 125ml-150ml lemon juice, stirring constantly over low heat until it thickens. Strain into a sterilised jar and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
  • To make a vegan pavlova, swap the egg whites for whipped aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) and swap the cream for whipped coconut cream. Try Katrina Meynink's chocolate ripple aquafaba meringues
  • Play with different fruit: try mango, pineapple and passionfruit, or stewed rhubarb. Tangy fruits are best (avoid watery ones).
  • Swap the castor sugar for unrefined light muscovado for a dusky, caramel-flavoured meringue.
  • Cutting the cream with yoghurt adds a nice touch of sourness that counters the sweet meringue.
  • Store the meringue base in an airtight container lined with baking paper for easy lift-in, lift-out.
  • Complete crack-up? Break up your pav and turn it into an Eton mess with plenty of whipped cream, fruit and syrup. Nobody will ever know.