With tender, toothsome meringue, lovely light whipped cream and delicious fresh fruit, Pavlova makes the perfect dessert anytime!
Made famous by my late mother-in-law, Avril, whose recipe we still use, Pavlova is an oft-requested family favourite and is a familiar sight on celebration tables in our family. The gorgeous Pavlova above was made by my lovely sister in law, Gail, for our Easter lunch a few years ago.
The History of Pavlova
Pavlova was made in honour of the Russian Prima Ballerina Anna Pavlova back in the 1920’s, and is named for her. There is a bit of a mystery around who invented it, and both Australia and New Zealand have claimed the dessert as their own!
Whatever its history, Pavlova has become even more popular as the years have worn on and today you will find many variations on the original fruit and cream dessert. However, for me, the best Pavlova is always going to be a single layer of meringue topped with fluffy cream and berries like my mother-in-law used to make. (A pavlova made by my late mother-in-law is pictured below.)
Tips for Making Avril’s Pavlova
- Draw a circle on the sheet of greaseproof paper or baking parchment you plan to make the meringue on. My late mother-in-law always told me to do this, and it really does help to make the circle more uniform.
- You can make the meringue base for the Pavlova the day before. Store it lightly covered at room temperature.
- If you do make the meringue base the same day you plan to serve the Pavlova be sure to allow at least a couple of hours for it to cool completely. If you put the whipped cream on an even slightly warm base it will go soggy.
- Just before serving, whip the cream, pile it on the meringue and top with fruit. If you prepare the pavlova too far in advance it will go soggy.
- You can of course vary the fruit depending on what is available or in season.
Mixed Fruit Pavlova – Printable Recipe
- 3 egg whites
- 6 ounces caster (superfine) sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon cornflour (corn starch)
- ½ teaspoon white vinegar
- 2 cups double (heavy) cream or whipping cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- about 2 cups of strawberries, halved
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1 cup blueberries
- 4 kiwis, peeled and sliced
- Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) or 125°C (250°F) for fan ovens.
- Make the meringue base by beating the egg whites until they are just beginning to stiffen.
- Gradually add the sugar, beating all the time.
- Beat until the sugar is well dissolved.
- When the mixture is very stiff and standing well in peaks, gently fold in the vanilla, cornflour and vinegar.
- Place a piece of greaseproof paper / baking parchment on a baking sheet.
- Spread the mixture in a large circle, making the sides higher than the centre to form a shell.
- Place in the oven for 1 to 1¼ hours watching carefully the first time as all ovens vary. Ideally you want the meringue to be a very, very light golden colour when it is cooked.
- Let the meringue cool completely on the baking sheet.
- When it is completely cool, carefully remove it from the greaseproof paper and place it on a large serving plate.
- An hour before serving, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
- Beat in the sugar, a bit at a time, until stiff peaks form.
- Carefully spread the whipped cream over the meringue base. Don't pile it too high, you want the edges of the meringue to still stand proud.
- Decorate the cream topped meringue with the fruit.
- First place a circle of halved strawberries around the side, then a circle of blueberries inside that.
- Make another circle of kiwi slices inside the blueberry circle and fill it with the raspberries.
- Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
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