I wrote a post on mini pavlova here, if you’re interested. But, let’s revisit pavlova, shall we?
I don’t hate pavlova but I am not a big fan too. It is not hard at all to make but the hours it takes to bake one…ughhh! I have no patience, which is the main reason why I never take order for pavlovas.
Now, pavlova cracks. Whatever you do, how ever you do it, it will crack. It is impossible to bake one without any cracks. So stop whining about it. As long as you get that crispy skin and marshmallowy texture inside, you’re a good to go!
However, I can understand the importance of aesthetics when it comes to presenting (or selling) your baked goods. Obviously a smooth pavlova shell looks more enticing than the one with cracks. I think I read almost everything there is about pavlova on the internet and boyyyy…..there are some ridiculous suggestions out there! An article recommended that one should bake a pavlova at 50ºC-60ºC for four hours in the oven if one wants to avoid cracks. Seriously?!!!!
Anyway, I am not going to go into details about the role of each ingredients in a pavlova recipe. There are tons of that on the internet now. What I am going to do is, share with you guys how to go about baking your pavlova so you get that aesthetically pleasing smooth sides.
Generally speaking, to bake a pavlova means to dry it out at super low temperature in the oven. This can take hours and hours depending on how low you set your temperature. Now, this can happen in two ways – either bake it at a steady low temperature through out the cooking process, or preheat your oven at high temperature then manually lower the temperature while the pavlova is still cooking in the oven. I’ve tried both and the later method proves time and time again it is the most effective way to get smooth, no-crack pavlova sides. I repeat, SIDES. Like I said earlier, pavlova will crack. At least with this method, we can contain the cracks to just the top of the pavlova.
Feel free to use any pavlova recipe you have on hand.
My recipe produce a crispy skin that is not chewy. If you like a slight chewiness to your pavlova skin, add an extra half teaspoon of white vinegar. As for the sugar, it is important that you use caster sugar. Not fine sugar. Definitely not coarse sugar! If you don’t have a powerful stand mixer, you can opt for icing sugar too. That way you will need shorter time dissolving the sugar into your meringue.
Once the pavlova is baked, you’ll see the top cracks. Take a sharp, thin knife, slice anywhere on the top part of the pavlova that is still attached to the side. By doing so, when you add the topping, the weight of the topping will rest on just the cracked top. If there are some parts of the top that is still attached to the side, the weight of the topping will ‘pull’ the side into the centre and cause the side to crumble.
There you go! Now all you have to do is top your pavlova with any topping you like. Other than creamy whipped cream, I like to top my pavlova with something sour like my Easy 4 Ingredients Lemon Curd and berries. That way you’ll balance out the sweetness from your pavlova.
(Almost) Perfect Pavlova ShellPrint Recipe
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 200g caster sugar/icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp white vinegar
- 4 tablespoon corn flour
- 240ml heavy cream, whisk until firm
- Lemon curd
Preheat your oven at 180ºC. Trace a 6" diameter round on a piece of baking paper. Line a baking tray with that baking paper, with pen/pencil side is facing down.
Whisk egg whites until everything looks 'frothy' and forms firm peak. Gradually add one tablespoon of sugar at a time, wait for at least 5 seconds before adding another tablespoon.
Continue whisking until it turns into thick, glossy white meringue. Once in a while stop your mixer and check if all the sugar has dissolved by rubbing the meringue between your fingers. If the meringue still feels grainy, continue whisking until you don't feel any grainy texture in the meringue. This might take a while, depending on how powerful your mixer is.
Continue whisking until you reach stiff peak (refer to my picture on the blog).
Add vinegar and cornstarch. Whisk for just a few second, only until vinegar and cornstarch are incorporated. Do not over mix.
Dollop your meringue on the baking tray and shape it into a 6" round 'cake' by following the round shape that you have traced on the baking paper earlier.
You can let your 'cake-shape' meringue have sharp sides and edges or you can do it like mine, where I use the tip of my off set spatula to pull the edges of the meringue to the centre so that the top edges of the meringue is curved.
Once you place the meringue into the oven, lower the temperature to 150ºC. Let it bake for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, lower the temperature again to 130ºC. Continue baking for another 15 minutes.
After the second interval of 15 minutes, lower the temperature again to 110ºC and bake for another 1 hour 15 minutes. So in total, you are baking the pavlova for 1 hour 45 minutes.
Once it's done, let it cool completely in the oven with the oven door closed. Do not open the oven door.
Topped pavlova with whipped cream, lemon curd and blueberries. Serve immediately.
Store freshly baked pavlova shell in a air tight container at room temperature. Add the topping just before serving. Pavlova shell will start to lose its crispiness once you add the topping. If you see liquid seeping out of your pavlova shell while baking in the oven, it means there is still some sugar that has been not dissolved. If your baked pavlova forms snake-scale-ish kind of exterior, it means your surrounding is humid. Having said that, rainy day is not the best day to bake a pavlova. After you store leftover pavlova in the fridge, sugar will start to seep out of the shell. Don't freak out. It's normal.