How to make the perfect pavlova and the common mistakes to avoid

Fluffy, chewy, crispy and delicious, there is nothing quite like a cloud of pavlova to start off a summer of al fresco dining
How to make the perfect pavlova and the common mistakes to avoid

The perfect pavlova is soft with a marshmallow interior. Picture: iStock

Beat it 

Beat your egg whites until they reach soft peaks. To test this, lift the whisk out of the egg white mixture and if they hold firm, they have reached peak stage. 

Don't weep

If a pavlova weeps, it is because the sugar was not incorporated into the egg whites properly. To avoid this, rub a small amount of the meringue mixture between your fingers and if you can feel granules of sugar, then you must keep whisking.

Separate with care

Even a drop of egg yolk in the mixture will ruin it, so best to separate each egg individually into a small bowl before adding to the mixing bowl to avoid catastrophe. 

Dry it out

A perfectly dry bowl and utensils are key to the perfect pavlova. Moisture stops the air adding volume to egg whites. 

Slowly does it

Add your sugar slowly to the mixture, one spoon at a time to ensure a thick, glossy result. 

Cool the right way

Cool your pavlova in the oven you cooked it in, to avoid cracks and ensure a marshmallowy interior. 

Darina Allen's perfect pavlova

Serves 6-8


  • 4 egg whites 
  • 110g caster sugar 
  • 2 tsp cornflour 
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 2 tsp white malt vinegar 

For the filling

  • 300ml cream 
  • Fruit of your choice 

Preheat the oven to 150°C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Check that your bowl and whisk are dry and free of grease. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add the castor sugar, little by little at a time. Fold in the cornflour, vanilla extract and vinegar.

Spread the meringue mixture onto a 9 inch (23cm) round or oval on the silicone paper. Bake in the centre of a preheated oven for 45 minutes. 

Then turn off the oven and leave for a further hour to dry out and crisp. Cool on a wire rack and peel off the paper. Remove from the oven and peel off the paper. Cool on a wire rack. Allow to get quite cold.

To serve, whip the cream softly, smother the pavlova with cream and decorate the top fruit of your choice. 

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