I posted on my Instagram stories on Friday that I was doing some baking and asked you to guess what I was making and a lot of you were right on the money👏🏻 Over the weekend I was on a mission to perfect the best pavlova meringue for a special event I was hosting on Sunday. I know pavlova is a very personal thing, soft or crunchy? I prefer mine crunchy and slightly soft in the middle. How about you, do you have a preference when we are talking about this iconic dessert?
So round #one I followed a recipe from Ms Ina Garten (AKA The Barefoot Contessa) as I know a lot of you are big fans of hers. The recipe was very straightforward with the ingredients being all the usual suspects:- caster sugar, egg whites, salt, vanilla extract and also with the inclusion of vinegar and cornflour. The bake time was 1 and a half hours and to leave it in while the oven was cooling down, which I did. Well what greeted me when I opened the oven was very disappointing indeed as it was a very soft meringue oozing a clear liquid on the baking tray. I put it in for another 40 minutes and there was virtually no change. So in to the sin bin it went. I’m really not quite sure what went wrong, all I can think is that the sugar was not fully incorporated and this caused the oozing.
Fortunately I was not deterred as Round #two was definitely more successful. I researched various recipes for the “Pav” and settled on one I found for individual meringues but I would be baking it in the cake base shape. This time the recipe called for some icing sugar as well as caster and vinegar was not included in the recipe. The bake time was 3 hours and also cooling down in the oven too. This time I was greeted by a beautiful vision of a pure white pavlova base, no oozing here. It was perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft in the center. Thank god there was no round #three. All that was left to do was to fill, dress and decorate it.
What about the filling? As in the cream. I used some fresh whipping cream with some added vanilla extract. I like quality vanilla extract and I usually use Nielsen Massey extract even though it is a little more expensive. I never add sugar as I find the meringue is already very sweet. I had some blackcurrants, raspberries and edible flowers from the garden which I used along with roasted hazelnuts, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. The tartness of the berries really worked well with the meringue and vanilla cream and all my guests really enjoyed the the fruits of my labours. Was this “the holy grail” of Pavlova recipes?….Perhaps, perhaps perhaps!