Crispy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside, this Winter Pavlova With Oranges is luxurious yet light and airy. Filled with cranberry-curd and then topped with whipped cream and multi colored oranges it delights the palate with it's medley of flavors.
What Is A Pavlova ?
Contrary to popular opinion, pavlova is not really a meringue. A meringue is crispy and dry throughout, whereas a pavlova is crispy on the outside and has a soft marshmallow like centre.
According to theflavorbender.com the dessert is of New Zealand origin. However, other sources list it as being Australian and both countries have a long standing war, each claiming it as their own.
The one thing that is known for sure is that the dessert is named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.
Baking A Perfect Pavlova
Baking a perfect Pavlova is well within your reach with a little patience! Follow the recipe precisely and don't rush through process and you'll have a beautiful and delicious Pavlova on your hands.
Prepping The Ingredients
The first and most important step is to have all your ingredients measured, prepped and at room temperature. This will make the whole process smoother and easier as you start mixing and baking.
The Egg Whites
It's especially important to have the egg whites at room temperature! They will build more volume when you whip them at this temperature, resulting in a more stable and airy Pavlova.
However, it's much easier to separate the egg whites and yolks when the eggs are cold. The yolks are firmer at this temperature and less likely to break so you won't get any bits in your whites. Once separated, you can set the whites aside to reach room temperature.
SImilarly, precise measurements of the ingredients are important. Since eggs come in all sizes, it's better to weigh the whites rather than use a specific number of egg whites. This way you'll have a precise quantity.
Prep The Baking Sheet
A pavlova can be any shape, but the most popular version is usually round. More experienced chefs make beautiful shapes that actually look like a tutu in memory of the ballerina the dessert is named after.
I personally keep it simple and rustic with a wide 8 inch round. The wide base with a flat bottom gives the Pavlova more stability and makes it easier to handle when filling it.
I simply line a baking sheet with parchment and draw a circle in pencil using an 8 inch baking tin as my guide. I do turn the parchment upside down so the pencil doesn't rub off on the Pavlova. This outline is my guide when I pour my egg white mixture onto the parchment and shape my Pavlova.
Weigh & Grind The Sugar
Weighing the sugar is not as necessary as the eggs are but since my scale is already out I usually weigh mine as it is more precise. The recipe calls for Superfine sugar, which is finer than granulated sugar but not the same as confectioners sugar.
Confectioners sugar contains cornstarch in it and although there is some cornstarch in the recipe, too much will make the Pavlova taste chalky and look dull. The granulated sugar will not dissolve properly so needs to be ground to a finer consistency.
The sugar, as it's slowly added to the medium whipped egg whites makes them sticky, glossy and stiff. This is what will give the Pavlova it's crispy outside and fluffy center.
Rub Lemon On The Bowl
Even a small amount of fat can ruin the mixture and prevent the egg whites from fluffing up properly. The first step is to make sure you wash and dry all your mixing equipment so that any fat residue from your previous baking is cleaned off.
A way to insure that anything that you may have missed doesn't interfere with your pavlova is to rub lemon all over your mixing bowl. The acid in the lemon will cut through any fat and the result will be egg whites that have lots of volume.
Whisk The Egg Whites
In the first phase, whisk the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt till you have medium stiff peaks. The cream of tartar is an important ingredient as it helps to stabilize the Pavlova.
Many recipes don't include it as an ingredient but I like to add it in my recipe and always get perfect results with it.
Whisk the egg whites slowly as high speed causes the air to build up rapidly and this can later cause the Pavlova to collapse.
Gradually Add The Sugar
Adding the sugar gradually is another important step. Strictly stick to adding in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. This is to make sure that it's completely dissolved in the mixture. This makes the Pavlova more stable and prevents any weeping.
Fold In The Remaining Ingredients
The last few ingredients must be folded in very gently, so all the air that you've created remains intact. I find that mixing the vanilla, vinegar and cornstarch to make a slurry is the best method.
This makes it easier to fold in all of the ingredients and as the cornstarch is dissolved in the liquid it gets evenly distributed in the whites.
Prep Your Pavlova To Bake
Now it's time to spread your beautiful, glossy mixture in the circle you drew and gently spread it to flatten the top. Put it in your preheated oven and bake it slowly at a low temperature for best results.
The well heated oven immediately sets the pavlova and the slow heat cooks it gradually so you get that perfect texture. A crispy outer layer, no cracks and a soft marshmallow center.
Cool Your Pavlova Completely
Cooling the Pavlova slowly is possibly more important than the slow baking process. If the pavlova is removed from the oven immediately it's likely to deflate and crack.
This is why the best solution is to leave it in the oven after you turn it off. Leave the light on so you can monitor it and let it gradually cool down as the oven temperature lowers. This usually takes upto 6 hours or more.
Filling Your Pavlova
Now that your Pavlova is completely cool we get to the fun part! Filling it! Sometimes, the Pavlova has a natural depression in it that allows you to fill it with ease. In the event that yours doesn't, gently remove some of the outer shell to create a cavity.
This isn't always essential, if you're simply topping the pavlova with cream and fruit you don't necessarily need a cavity. In this one we're filling it with Cranberry curd so it's essential.
Another method is to shape the Pavlova in such a way that it has raised sides and a natural depression to place the toppings in.
For this particular Pavlova, create the cavity and fill it with 1 ¼ cup of the curd. Top the opening with the whipped cream.
Border the cream with the remaining curd for a pop of color (optional) and place the cut oranges on top. Drizzle with the orange sauce and serve!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is my Pavlova brown? ... You've probably baked it at a higher temperature than you should have. Low and slow is the way to go in this recipe. Everyone's appliances are different so you may need to adjust timing and temperature a little bit from the recipe provided. A few tries and you will likely find the sweet spot for your oven.
- Why is my Pavlova weeping? ... Either your work space was humid or the sugar didn't mix with the egg white properly. You can use a dehumidifier to help with the humidity, although Pavlovas are best made on a dry day. Make sure the sugar is ground to a fine texture and make sure that you add it in slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time, so it has time to mix in properly.
- Can I make my Pavlova ahead of time? ... The Pavlova can be baked and stored in an airtight container for upto 1-2 days but the fillings and toppings must be added just before serving it or else it will become soggy.
- How can I store my leftover Pavlova? ... Leftovers unfortunately can't be stored for very long. Due to the cream, leftovers will have to be stored in the fridge, causing the meringue to get soggy. At best your leftovers will last for 24 hours.
- Can I freeze my pavlova? ... Although you will find many sites that state that a Pavlova can be frozen I don't recommended it. Due to it's delicate nature, the base can break easily in the freezer. In addition to this, the Pavlova can get a little sticky when defrosted.
- Can I use a sugar substitute in my Pavlova? ... Although I haven't personally tried baking a Pavlova with a sugar substitute, being a personal fan of Monk Fruit sweetener I can recommend this recipe from a favorite blogger thebigmansworld.com
All said and done, I approached my first pavlova with a fair amount of trepidation but was pleasantly surprised with the results. Give it a try and let me know below how it went!
Winter Pavlova With Oranges
- 5 (150 g) egg whites (SEE NOTES)
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 ¼ cups (250 g) superfine sugar (SEE NOTES)
- 1 tsp vinegar (SEE NOTES)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- ½ lemon
Filling and Topping
- 1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp confectioners sugar
- 1 ½ cup cranberry curd
- 2 cara cara oranges
- 2 blood red oranges
- 2 tbsp orange sauce
- 1 tsp orange peel
- 2 cups pulp free orange juice
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsps cornstarch
- 1 tsp butter
Baking The Pavlova
- Preheat your oven to 300°F
- Trace an 8 inch circle on a piece of parchment and set upside down on a baking sheet (SEE NOTES)
- Separate the egg whites, making sure not a drop of yolk remains
- Weigh the whites to make sure you have 150 grams of liquid
- Weigh your sugar to make sure you have 250 grams and grind it in a food processor or coffee grinder and set aside
- Make sure your mixing bowl is well washed and dried and before starting to mix rub the ½ lemon all over it (SEE NOTES)
- Whip your egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until you get medium stiff peaks
- Start adding in the sugar slowly, 1 tbsp at a time, till you get stiff peaks (SEE NOTES)
- Make a slurry of the vinegar, vanilla and cornstarch and gently fold in
- Transfer your mixture to the parchment, staying inside the 8 inch circle you drew, making a dome with a flattened top.
- Reduce the heat to 225° and bake for 90 minutes (SEE NOTES)
- Once the Pavlova is done, DO NOT remove it from the oven. Leave it in the oven with a light on for 6 hours so it cools down gradually.
- After 6 hours, remove it carefully and if it still seems warm leave it outside in a dry place where it will not be disturbed till it is totally cool (SEE NOTES)
Filling and Topping The Pavlova
- Gently place your completely cooled pavlova in a serving dish
- The top usually depresses a bit, but incase it hasn't, very gently, use a knife to cut open a small hole to expose the hollow centre (SEE NOTES)
- Pour in your cranberry curd in this space, spreading it gently to cover the space
- Top this with the chilled and lightly sweetened whipped cream
- Top with the peeled and cut oranges in the 2 colors
- Drizzle a few tablespoons of the orange sauce so it trickles down the sides
The Orange Sauce For The Pavlova
- Whisk together the orange peel, orange juice, granulated sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan
- Cook the mixture for about 5-8 minutes till it thickens
- Turn the flame off and add the butter
- Keep stirring till it melts in and set aside to cool