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Pavlova is my mum’s all-time favourite dessert, so I made her this one for Mother’s Day.

The recipe comes from Maureen Simpson’s Australian Cuisine and it has never let me down. The book offers three variations – this one is baked on a plate, eliminating the need to flip the finished pavlova over, although why anyone would want to do that is beyond me. It produces a lovely crisp exterior with a thick marshmallow centre – just the way my mum likes it!

  • 6 egg whites (as fresh as possible)
  • good pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups (330g) castor (superfine) sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1½ level tablespoons (6 teaspoons/20g) cornflour (cornstarch), plus extra for dusting the plate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used homemade)
  • lightly sweetened whipped cream for topping
  • fruit – we used kiwi fruit, passionfruit and frozen berries

1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) with fan.  Grease a large baking plate with butter, dust with cornflour and tap away the excess.  You could also bake this on a tray, lined with greased and floured parchment paper, providing you’re happy to serve it with the paper intact.

2. Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff, then add the sugar one large spoonful at a time until fully incorporated.  The meringue should be thick and shiny.  Gently stir in the vinegar, sifted cornflour and vanilla.

3. Pile the meringue onto the prepared plate, ensuring that it is at least 6cm (2½”) high (this will ensure a good marshmallow core).  With a spatula, try to slope the sides inwards towards the centre.  Make sure you leave room for the pavlova to expand as it bakes.

4. Drop the oven temperature to 110C (230F) with fan before placing the pavlova in the oven.  Bake for 1½ – 1¾ hours.   Allow the pavlova to cool in the oven, with the door slightly ajar.

5. The pavlova will probably crack on top as it cools, revealing a thick marshmallow centre.  Don’t fret about it being broken, it will all be covered with cream anyway!

6. Top the pavlova less than an hour before serving. With a sharp knife, cut  carefully around the top of the pavlova to allow the broken bits to drop down onto the marshmallow centre.  Try and keep the sides intact.  I know it looks like a disaster at this point, but truly, it’s fine!

7. Cover up the top with whipped cream and artistically positioned fruit.  The Aussie tradition is to use strawberries, bananas and passionfruit, but we’ve gone for kiwi fruit and mixed frozen berries instead.

The end result is a thick, marshmallowy pavlova that isn’t overly sweet.  I managed to sneak this photo in before mum took the leftovers home!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

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Addendum: as Maureen Simpson’s wonderful book is now sadly out of print, I thought for completeness I’d also give you the quantities for the other two pavlova recipes in Australian Cuisine.

The methodology is basically the same as above. I’ve made the four egg version several times, but have never attempted the pavlova for a crowd.

. . . . .

Basic Marshmallow Pavlova

  • 4 egg whites (as fresh as possible)
  • good pinch salt
  • 1 heaped cup (220g) castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 level tablespoon (4 teaspoons) cornflour (cornstarch)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • whipped cream and fruit

Spread the meringue mix into a roughly 18cm (7″) diameter circle, ensuring that it’s at least 6cm (2½”) high.  Bake for  1¼ hours.

. . . . .

Pavlova for a Crowd

  • 9 egg whites (as fresh as possible)
  • good pinch of salt
  • 500g (1lb) castor sugar
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 level tablespoons (8 teaspoons) cornflour
  • whipped cream and fruit

Shape the meringue into an oval, about 18cm (7″) by 23cm (9″) and 6cm (2½”) high.  Ms Simpson says this usually fits diagonally across a normal sized baking tray.  Bake for 2 hours.

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