The long-running feud between New Zealand and Australia arguing who invented the pavlova is yet to be resolved. What we do know is it was named in honour of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured New Zealand and Australia in 1926, and it is one of the finest summer desserts on the planet.
4 egg whites
250g castor sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
350ml thickened cream
400g ripe strawberries, washed and hulled
4 tbsp passionfruit curd (see below)
1/2 cup fresh passionfruit pulp (about 6 passionfruit)
60g unsalted butter, chopped
100g castor sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk
Heat oven to 150C. Using a pencil, mark out the circumference of a dinner plate on baking paper. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then whisk in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the meringue looks glossy. Whisk in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla.
Spread the meringue inside the circle, creating a crater by making the sides a little higher than the middle. Place in the oven, turn down the temperature to 120C and bake for 1 hour, then turn off the heat and let the meringue cool completely inside the oven.
When it is cool, chop 100g of the strawberries. Place in a food processor, blitz until smooth, then push the fruit mixture through a sieve. Whip the cream and spread it over the meringue. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of the passionfruit curd over the cream. Slice the remaining strawberries, arrange them randomly over the cream, then pour the strawberry sauce over the whole lot.
Whisk the passionfruit pulp to loosen, then press through a sieve to remove the seeds. Return half the seeds to the juice. Combine the butter, sugar and passionfruit in a medium heatproof bowl. Stand over a pan of simmering water (don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water) and stir until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth.
Using a wire whisk, gently stir in the eggs and yolk. Keep stirring for 20-25 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Test by dipping a spoon into the curd, and running a fingertip through the mixture on the back of a spoon. It is ready when the line keeps its shape rather than running back together.
Use what you need for the pavlova and pour the rest into a warm, sterilised jar. Seal tightly then leave to cool. Keep in the fridge for up to 8 weeks.
Makes enough for the pavlova plus a jar for later
When making any meringue, it is essential the bowl and whisk you use are clean and free of grease. The addition of cornflour and vinegar is what gives the pavlova its dry, crisp crust, with a soft, marshmallow-like interior. Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion spells out how to tell if your pavlova has problems: "If syrupy droplets form on the surface of the meringue, you'll know you have overcooked it; liquid oozing from the meringue is a sign of undercooking."
It is best to cook the meringue in a slow oven, then turn the oven off and let it cool overnight. This way, you wake the next day with your pav ready to go.
Once the pavlova base is made you can keep it in a airtight container out of the fridge but in a cool place for up to four days.