This classic meringue-based cake is light, airy and absolutely delicate dessert that never fails to impress.
Back in 2013, I made my first Pavlova cake for Mother’s Day for my now mother-in-law. It was such a big hit and I loved it so much so I had to bake another one for myself that same night. And it’s still one of my favorite desserts of all time!
And if you’re looking for an easy Pavlova recipe with a proven result, you’re in the right place!
What is Pavlova cake?
Pavlova is a delicate meringue-based cake, typically topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits. It’s named after a famous Russian ballerina, but the origin of this cake brings a heated debacle between Australia and New Zealand to this day.
Pavlova cake is effortlessly stunning, just like a ballerina, and such a classic dessert that never fails to impress!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS EASY PAVLOVA RECIPE:
Delicately crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallow-y on the inside, a classic Pavlova is all about a perfect contrast of textures and flavors.
That’s why, my goal was to highlight the contrast of sweet and sour, crisp and fluffy.
- Whipped cream infused with lemon curd, or any citrus curd, balances the sweetness of meringue cake.
- And assortment of fresh fruits brings a texture and flavor contrast that compliments the soft and fluffy texture!
PAVLOVA CAKE INGREDIENTS:
The good news is that you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make Pavlova. Some are optional, but some are not. So let’s dive into the details…
- Egg whites – Make sure to carefully separate the egg whites from yolks. You don’t want any yolks in the whites, or your egg whites won’t whip into fluffy white meringue with hard peaks.
- Sugar – Sugar is an essential ingredient for proper structure of the cake. Sugar stabilizes the egg whites, creating a nice and strong meringue. Reducing the sugar amount will compromise the end result! And please use superfine sugar, or caster sugar, as it easily dissolves into the egg whites.
- Cornstarch – It’s what makes the cake fluffy soft, marshmallow-y in the middle.
- Cream of Tartar – Cream of tartar is a dry acid, and it helps to stabilize the meringue. Again, it’s all about that structure!!! You can actually use either cream of tartar or white vinegar, or both like I do.
- White Vinegar – White vinegar is optional, but I’ve always added both cream of tartar and white vinegar in my Pavlovas. Don’t worry, you won’t taste the vinegar.
- Vanilla Extract – This’s not an essential ingredient, and it’s here for flavor! I use this homemade vanilla extract.
TIP: It’s easier to separate cold eggs, but room temperature egg whites whip better and faster.
HOW TO MAKE THIS EASY PAVLOVA RECIPE
Pavlova is an easy dessert to make, and mostly hands-off. The meringue base can be made, and recommended, a day or two in advance, but it’s important to assemble the cake right before serving.
Crisp shell doesn’t tolerate humidity, and if you frost the cake with whipped cream, it needs to be refrigerated and that’ll ruin the delicate crisp texture.
HOW TO MAKE PAVLOVA BATTER:
To make the meringue batter:
- Whip the egg whites until foamy. Then whisk in cream of tartar and salt.
- Meanwhile, combine sugar and cornstarch together.
- Slowly add sugar/cornstarch mixture a tablespoon at a time, making sure sugar is dissolved after each addition.
- Once the meringue reach soft peak stage, fold in white vinegar and vanilla extract.
That’s it! It’s super easy to make the batter…
HOW TO SHAPE PAVLOVA CAKE:
Now that we have our meringue batter, let’s shape our Pavlova. This’s the most fun step, in my opinion. Get creative!
- On a parchment paper, draw an 8-inch circle and flip it so the ink is on other side. Place the parchment paper on a baking sheet, flipped upside down.
- Pour the meringue on the prepared parchment paper inside the circle.
- Using a silicone spatula, shape the meringue, making sure to create a small crate on top. This is where we’ll fill with whipped cream and fruits.
- Bake the Pavlova in preheat oven. Then turn off the oven and let the cake cool inside the oven.
TIP: Turning the baking sheet upside down helps to transfer the baked Pavlova easily.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE PAVLOVA CAKE:
It’s best to assemble Pavlova cake right before serving.
- Carefully transfer the meringue cake onto a serving platter.
- Whip heavy whipping cream with sugar and lemon curd until soft peaks.
- Pick assortment of fresh fruits with different sweetness/tartness level. Prep them by washing and slicing, if needed.
- Spread the whipped cream on Pavlova base and then arrange the fruits on top.
Pavlova Topping Ideas:
While whipped cream and fresh fruits are classic toppings, you can go wild with toppings.
Here’re just a few ideas:
- Drizzle fruit sauce, like raspberry sauce over the whipped cream.
- Chocolate ganache is also divine!
- Lemon curd, or any citrus curd, make a stunning addition.
- Pair sour fruits, like kiwi, passion fruit, blood oranges, with sweet ones like mango, berries, cherries, peaches, etc.
- Chocolate shaving, citrus zest (lime, orange), fresh herbs (mint, basil, etc) make a pretty presentation!
4 TIPS FOR PERFECT PAVLOVA CAKE:
- Make sure to use clean, grease-free bowl and whisk to whip the meringue. And be careful not to include even the smallest egg yolk, as it’ll prevent the egg whites to whip.
- Room temperature egg whites whip better and get more volume.
- Cool the cake slowly in the oven for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, to prevent cracking.
- Choose a flat serving platter, as it’s easier to slide the cake base without cracking the delicate shell.
FAQ AND TROUBLESHOOTING PAVLOVA CAKE
Why my Pavlova cake cracked?
- Pavlova cake cracks when cooled too rapidly. Therefore, cool it slowly in the oven.
Why my Pavlova cake collapse?
Pavlova may collapse if the shell cracks too much for various reasons. Cracks are totally fine and natural, because the shell is so delicate, but if not careful a small crack could lead to complete collapse.
- Make sure to make a small well on top when shaping your cake. This will create a nice area for whipped cream frosting and toppings. Without this well, the sides may collapse if the delicate shell cracks.
- Also avoid putting too much topping around the edges.
Can I make Pavlova day before?
- Yes, absolutely. It’s actually ideal to make the Pavlova base a day in advance to give it plenty of time to cool slowly.
Can you leave Pavlova in the oven overnight?
- Yes, oven is the best place to store Pavlova shell, as it’s cool and dry. I usually make Pavlova in the evening and leave it overnight until ready to frost and decorate.
What vinegar do you use for Pavlova?
- Any kind of vinegar will do: white distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or even lemon juice. However, if you’re out of any vinegar, you may omit it altogether!
HOW TO STORE PAVLOVA:
- Store naked Pavlova shell in a cool, dry place, like an oven for up to 2 days.
It’s best to frost and decorate Pavlova right before serving, or a few hours prior at the most.
Refrigerate leftover Pavlova cake and eat it within 24 hours. Or the crisp shell loses its delicate texture and becomes sticky and gummy.
- Pavlova cake doesn’t freeze well.
Easy Pavlova Recipe
For cake base:
- 1 ¼ cups 250gr superfine sugar (Note 1)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 large egg whites at room temperature
- ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar or white wine vinegar, optional
For whipped cream:
- 1 cup 240ml heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
- Assortment of sweet and tart fruits like berries, kiwi,
- Draw 8-inch circle on a parchment paper and place it ink side down on a baking sheet, turned upside down.
- Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).
- To make the batter: whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl with whisk attachment, or using handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy.
- Stir in cream of tartar and salt and continue to beat on medium speed.
- Slowly add sugar/cornstarch mixture one tablespoon at a time, while mixer is still running on medium speed. Continue to beat the egg whites until hard peaks form. The mixture will look smooth and shiny.
- Add vanilla extract and vinegar, and gently fold the mixture with a spatula.
- To shape the cake: transfer the batter onto the prepared parchment paper inside the circle. Using a spatula smooth the shell and make a shallow well on top.
- To bake: bake the cake for 90 minutes. Turn the oven off and let it cool for at least 2 hours. You can leave it overnight.
- To make the whipped cream: beat the heavy cream with sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed until nice and thick . Keep a close eye on it. Don’t over-whip the cream, or you will start making butter.
- To assemble the cake: when you are ready to serve, gently run a long offset spatula on the bottom of the cake to separate from the parchment paper. Using a large cake lifter, carefully transfer the cake to a serving platter. (TIP: Choose a flat serving platter for easy transfer and to avoid cracking the shell.)
- Spread the whipped cream filling over the top of the cake and top with fresh fruits.