This Strawberry Pavlova cake is the perfect dessert for Spring and Summer, the most amazing Pavlova dessert ever! Crunchy on the outside, marshmallow texture inside, decorated with homemade whipped cream, fresh strawberry, and some mint leaves!
Did you know that Pavlova is naturally gluten-free? In fact, my Pavlova recipe uses only a few ingredients you probably already have at home like egg white and sugar. Making this Strawberry Pavlova cake is not difficult, and does not take much time, however similarly to most meringue-based recipes, it needs attention, accuracy, and a bit of practice.
2 typical mistakes to avoid while making Pavlova
- Pavlova is cracked - so many people claim to have the perfect pavlova recipe and many of these pavlovas are full of cracks, some even broken into half. It's a big NO! I will take you through below all the necessary details you have to know to avoid cracks on your pavlova
- Pavlova is browning - another typical mistake caused by quite obviously too high oven temperature. Still, so many recipes out there state high oven temperate, well not this one!
For the Pavlova cake
- Egg white: Room temperature fresh egg white is the heart of the pavlova. Make sure you use egg whites that are absolutely free from any sort of fat (e.g. egg yolk). If you get some egg yolk into the egg white, start again. Believe me, you can't make a successful meringue and pavlova with that batch, unfortunately. Not sure what to do with leftover egg yolks? You must try my ultimate Crème brûlée recipe
- Superfine sugar: There are a couple of important notes regarding the sugar.
- No.1. If you have tried any of my recipes before you must have realized that I am not using an excessive amount of sugar. However, in the case of pavlova, we need a lot of sugar to keep the structure of the meringue. Sugar in this case is not really a sweetener but more like a glue
- No.2. You must use superfine sugar which has smaller crystals than regular granulated sugar, therefore, dissolves quickly while beating up the egg white into the meringue. If you can't find superfine sugar in your local supermarket, pulse blend regular white sugar in a food processor until the sugar crystals get smaller, however, make sure you don't make powder sugar out of it.
- No. 3. Sugar needs to be added to the egg white very slowly, one tablespoon at a time while the mixer is on otherwise it might get crystallized and you have to start the whole process all over again!
- Cream of tartar (optional): It helps stabilize whipped egg whites and prevents sugar from crystallizing. If you are an experienced baker and perfectly know how to make meringue perhaps you can leave it out. I hardly ever use it
- White Vinegar (optional): Similar function to the cream of tartar, it's all about the perfect meringue! The pavlova cake won't taste vinegar, I promise!
- Lemon juice (optional): Same function as white vinegar
- Cornstarch (optional): It helps to achieve the marshmallow center and again, stabilize the meringue
For the filling
Filling the pavlova is really up to your taste! After nailing the pavlova technique, you can make both the pavlova and also the filling in as many variations as you wish. However, bear in mind that pavlova is effectively egg white and has a lot of sugar. Therefore, from a taste point of I suggest something refreshing eg. fresh fruits, fruit compote, lemon curd, or even sugar-free homemade whipped cream.
This Strawberry Pavlova cake is filled with sugar-free cream and strawberry slices. I like to add a few mint leaves too, they really take the strawberry filling to the next level providing a nice design and color, wonderful aromatic smell, and taste too.
How to make this recipe
1. What is the difference between French, Italian, and Swiss meringue?
Generally, there are 3 ways of making meringue, French, Italian, and Swiss. There is no such thing as one is easier or better than the other. Deciding which one to make comes down to personal preference and final usage of the meringue.
In the French method, egg white is whipped while fine sugar is added to it gradually until stiff peaks form. This Strawberry Pavlova cake dessert with raspberries is made using the French method.
The Italian method involves whisking the egg whites with a hot sugar syrup (at a set temperature) to form the meringue. If you want to learn more about it check my ultimate macaron tutorial
The Swiss method involves heating sugar and egg white over a double boiler until sugar fully dissolves then whipping the mixture into the meringue. I am using the Swiss method to make spooky Ghost meringues and also for making Lemon Pound cake with meringue decoration
2. How to make French meringue for this Strawberry Pavlova cake
Whipping egg white is probably the most important step in making the pavlova recipe. Make sure you use fresh, room temp egg white that is absolutely free from any sort of fat (e.g. egg yolk). If you get some egg yolk into the egg white in the process of separating, start again.
Worth being well organized before you start the meringue-making process. Prepare your Piping bag, a baking tray with parchment paper or a Silicone baking mat, an Offset spatula or some sort of spoon to shape the meringue, a Rubber spatula to be able to fold the meringue without damaging. Also, start pre-heating your oven and ideally use a Digital oven thermometer to be on the safe side.
While whipping the egg white start your Stand mixer on low speed, then increase gradually. If you are using cream of tartar, vinegar, or lemon juice, you should use it at this point. Once texture looks bubble, add in vinegar, then increase the speed to medium/high and start adding superfine sugar very slowly, a small amount at a time. Scrape the sugar from the side of the mixer bowl every now and then, if needed.
It is very important that you whip egg white until shiny, stiff peaks form since you will need to pipe and shape the meringue and that requires stable consistency. But, avoid over-whipping the meringue as it can form lumps.
If you are using cornstarch, you must quickly fold that in after whipping egg white and before piping.
It is very handy to use a Stand mixer for this mini pavlova recipe, as with a hand mixer it can take way too long to reach the desired consistency. Whipping meringue in Stand mixer takes about 5-10 minutes.
3. How to pipe the meringue for the pavlova cake
First and foremost it is important that you have your baking tray with parchment paper or a Silicone baking mat prepared ahead. After your stiff, steady meringue is ready there is no time to wander around.
This quantity will make 1 x 20 cm / 8inches (diameter) pavlova cake. Start by piping the bottom of the pavlova in a circle, then pipe 2 (or 3) layers of pattern. Use a nozzle tip that is around 1cm / 0,4 inch large in diameter.
Remember, you will only be able to pipe the meringue if it has the right consistency, which is fluffy, stable, and stiff. Make sure your kitchen is not too warm (less than 20C / 68F is ideal) and not too humid. You will have to work relatively quickly as meringue can lose its volume over time in a warm kitchen.
4. What is the right temperature to bake Pavlova
Apart from the inappropriate meringue techniques, the most common mistake with meringue is baking it at too high a temperature which results in a brown, cracked surface. While baking meringue basically we have to think more like drying than baking. Pre-heat your oven, then I recommend baking the meringue on 85C-90C / 185-194 F so it won´t be browning. Dry them at this low temperature for 2.5h then leave the door open very slightly, and let them rest and cool down in the oven. This will ensure the beautiful light color and crack-free shell!
Please note, that on a warm or humid day meringue loses its structure at room temperature and might get sticky. Keep it fresh in an air-tight container in the fridge, if you have a warm house.
How about your REAL oven temperature?
What do I mean by that? Check my oven for example:
16C / 60F difference is huge (and not unusual). For meringue, which is baked at a really low temperature, the inappropriate baking temperature can cause a real disaster. I can not highlight enough how important it is to get to know your own oven and purchase an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer
5. How to fill and decorate Pavlova cake
Pavlova is effectively egg white and sugar so in my view the filling and decoration are what make a pavlova into a truly celebrational dessert. As mentioned above I definitely recommend keeping it low in terms of the sugar level, I would avoid fillings like chocolate, caramel, etc.
You can try other fresh fruits like kiwi, some herbs like mint or rosemary, a tangy lemon curd, or other fresh berries. Try to make it colorful, perhaps use your favorite piping nozzle, or decorate with edible flours!
This Strawberry Pavlova cake is filled with sugar-free cream, strawberry slices, and mint. Simple yet amazing flavors! Please note that it is recommended to fill the pavlova straight before serving to avoid the meringue getting soggy from the filling.
How to store the Pavlova cake?
Store it before filling it in an air-tight container.
Not much equipment is needed it make this Pink Mini Pavlova dessert with raspberries, however, there are a few basics.
As mentioned above a Stand mixer will make your life easier, so I definitely recommend using that for preparing meringue. With a hand mixer, simply it would take way too long.
Rubber spatula is really a must for a Home Baker at any level. Whenever a recipe states “folding”, we mean “with a rubber spatula” to avoid breaking the batter. This method is extra important while handling meringue so you definitely need one.
For piping the pavlova cake, I used Piping bag without a nozzle, perhaps you can make it with a spoon too.
Did I mention Digital oven thermometer? Yes, I did and you know why:)
Other Pavlova and Meringue desserts
Strawberry Pavlova cake
- 60 g Egg whites whites of 2 eggs (approx.)
- 120 g Super fine sugar
- ½ teaspoon Cream of tartar optional
- 1 teaspoon Corn starch optional
- ½ teaspoon White vinegar optional
- Decorate with whipped cream, strawberry, and mint
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Make sure all the equipment are absolutely clean and dry, any small fat or even a tiny bit of egg yolk can ruin the meringue. Arrange the equipment ahead around you
- If don't have super fine sugar at hand, pulse bland granulated sugar for a few seconds in food processor
- Then, very slowly, one table spoon at a time, start adding the superfine sugar while mixer is on medium / high speed
- Once all the sugar is added, start whisking the meringue at a higher speed until it becomes glossy and achieves stiff peaks. The meringue is ready when the sugar is completely dissolved. Take a small amount between your fingers, if it is grainy, keep whisking.
- Gently fold in corn starch with the help of a Rubber spatula, be careful not to deflate the meringue
- Pipe a 20cm /8 inches diameter disk, then pipe the pattern on top on 2-3 layers
- Bake for 2,5 hour at 90C / 194F . Start checking the Pavlova at 2h
- When the Pavlova baked, open the door slightly, and let the pavlova cool in the oven for a few hours
- Just before serving fill with sugar-free whipped cream, strawberry, and a few mint leaves