Perfect Pavlova


  • 4 egg whites (use the yolks to make custard)
  • 1 ¼ cups castor sugar - I use organic golden castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (I use malt vinegar but you can also use white vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour (aka cornstarch)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Using an electric beater, beat egg whites and sugar for 10 minutes or until thick and glossy.  Mix the vinegar, vanilla and cornflour together in a small bowl.  Add to the meringue mixture.  Beat for a further 15 minutes.  Line an oven tray with baking paper.  Draw a 22cm circle on the paper as a guide of the size you want the pavlova to be.  Spread the pavlova within about 2cm of the edge of the circle, keeping the shape as even as possible.   Smooth the surface then take the handle end of a spoon and make little circles all around the outside (making little peaks).  

Place the pavlova in the oven and turn it down to 100 degrees celsius.  Bake for 1 hour.  Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova in the oven until it's entirely cool.  

Once it's cool, take it out of the oven and pile it high with whipped cream and strawberries (or kiwifruit, or chocolate sprinkles - whatever you like). For a dairy free option, use whipped coconut cream.


  • Beat it till you think it's done and then beat it for at least 10 minutes more and then some.  The success comes with the beating.
  • Leave the pavlova in the oven all night to cool.  
  • Try not to peek into the oven (open the door) while it's cooking.  Trust it.
  • Don't put it in the fridge when it's cooked as the moisture is the pavlova's enemy.
  • Leave adding the cream and toppings until the last minute - the moisture from the cream will make the top of the pavlova soft and you want it to be crispy.
  • Once the cream is on, pile the top with strawberries, raspberries or shaved chocolate or all three!
  • If you want some extra tuition watch this Delia Smith lesson on using eggs.  It also shows you how to make the yummiest custard for trifle (another NZ Christmas must) with the egg yolks.
  • Most importantly, cross your fingers and toes.  Don't be fooled by the appearance when it's first cooked, it will crack a little as it cools down.

A word about gluten free pavlova - there is conflicting information about whether vinegar contains gluten - I suggest that you do your own research and figure out if it upsets you and make your own decision.  I have always been able to use white vinegar without it affecting me - the choice is yours.


Carol Karl

December 23, 2013