This Strawberry Pavlova is the perfect dessert for Spring and Summer, the most amazing Pavlova ever! Crunchy outside, marshmallow texture inside decorated with refreshing cream, fresh strawberry and some mint leaves!
Did you know that Pavlova is naturally gluten-free, in fact the my Pavlova recipe using only a few ingredients you probably already have at home like egg white and sugar? Making Pavlova is not difficult, does not take much time, however similarly to most meringue based recipes, it needs attention, accuracy and a bit of practice. My tutorial covers everything you need to know about making the perfect Strawberry Pavlova, try it!
There are a 2 typical visual mistakes one can make while baking 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 bellow on 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! This Pavlova has to stay white after baking providing the perfect contrast with the filling that is usually more colourful
My Top 5 Baking Tips for home bakers
- Read the recipe carefully including my tips and recommendations on how to avoid and fix typical issues during baking
- Avoid using substitutes and changing the recipe unless you are aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavour. Reducing sugar, replacing egg, using ingredients not on the right temperature etc. will all have an impact on your baking
- For consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is provided as an indicative figure only and might be used for less complex and large batch recipes however it is not an appropriate method for more delicate, complex pastries
- Did you know that most home ovens can significantly under or oven run? Also, oven temperature hugely drops when opening the oven door therefore it is recommended to always pre-heat the oven above the required baking temperature.
- Temperature is so important when it comes to baking and accurate oven temperature is key, can make or break any recipe especially when it comes to meringues. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under baked, burnt, sad looking desserts
Let’s start with some important notes regarding the ingredients of this Strawberry Pavlova recipe
For the pavlova
- 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. After the egg white whipped up until stiff, shiny peaks, it is important to work/pipe relatively fast and place the meringue into the oven as soon as possible. On room temperature, especially on a warm day, the meringue starts to loose its volume quickly
- 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. Instead, I am all about balancing flavours and let them shy. However, in 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, if it makes sense?
- 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 meringue. If you can’t find superfine sugar in your local supermarket, pulse regular white sugar in 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 table spoon at a time while the mixer is on otherwise it might get crystallised and you have to start the whole process all over again! If want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Cream of tartar (optional): It helps stabilise whipped egg whites and prevents sugar from crystallising. If you are an experienced baker and perfectly know how to make meringue perhaps you can leave it out. I did not use it for this
- White Vinegar (optional): Similar function as cream of tartar, it’s all about the perfect meringue! The pavlova won’t taste vinegar, I promise!
For the filling
Filling 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 variation as you wish. However, bear in mind that pavlova is effectively egg white and a lot of sugar. Therefore from a taste point of I suggest something refreshing. I recommend using fresh fruits, fruit compote, lemon curd or even sugar-free cream. Try to play with the colours, textures, and decorate it with mint, lemon slice, berries, etc.
This Strawberry Pavlova 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 colour, wonderful aromatic smell and taste too.
Let’s continue with my top 7 tips about the technique of this Strawberry Pavlova 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 usually it 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. This Strawberry pavlova recipe 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. I am using Italian meringue method for example to make macarons, check my macaron recipe out in here.
The Swiss method involves heating sugar and egg white over double boiler until sugar fully dissolves then whipping the mixture into meringue. I am using Swiss method to make spooky Ghost meringues, check it out in here and also for making lemon meringue loaf, recipe in here.
2. How to make French meringue for this Strawberry Pavlova recipe
Whipping egg white is probably the most important step of making this Strawberry 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 to be well organized before you start the meringue making process. Prepare your Piping bag, tray with parchment paper or a Silicone baking mat, 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 egg white start your Stand mixer on low speed then increase gradually. If you are using cream of tartar, you should use it at this point. Once texture looks bubbly, 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. If the mixture gets greasy with larger sugar bits in it, it means you added sugar too quickly or you were not using superfine sugar.
It is very important that you whip egg white until stiff, shiny peaks since you will need to pipe and shape the meringue and that requires stable consistency. The meringue is ready when it is silky without any sugar bits in it.
If you are using cornstarch, you must quickly fold that in after whipping egg white and before piping.
3. How to pipe meringue for this Strawberry pavlova recipe
First and foremost it is important that you have your baking tray with parchment paper or a Silicone baking mat prepared ahead as well as a Piping bag. It is a good idea to use a template that helps with piping, just draw a 20 cm / 8 inches circle with the help of a baking pan if you have this size and use it under the parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
This quantity will make 1 x 20 cm / 8inches (diameter) pavlova. 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, that is fluffy, stable and stiff. Make sure your kitchen is not too warm (less than 20C / 68F is ideal) and 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
First of all, have your oven pre-heated, as always.
Apart from inappropriate meringue technique the most common mistake with meringue is baking it on too high temperature which results in browned, cracked surface. While baking meringue basically we have to think more like drying than baking. I used to bake meringue on 100C but now went down to 85C-90C / 185-194 F and that is what I recommend to you as well. Meringue of this size should be dried in this low temperature for 2-3 hours then leave the door open very slightly (1cm) and let it rest and cool down in the oven. This will ensure beautiful light colour and crack free surface!
Please note that on a warm or humid day meringue loses its structure on room temperature and might gets sticky. Same applies after filling the pavlovas. That is unfortunately normal so make sure you do not leave them out in the humid kitchen for days. Also fill pavlova just before serving.
One other important thing to consider is your REAL oven temperature. What do I mean on that? Check my oven for example:
16C / 60F difference is huge (and not unusual). For meringue, which is baked on really low temperature, inappropriate baking temperature can cause a real disaster. I can not highlight enough how important to get to know your own oven and purchase an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer.
5. How to fill and decorate Pavlova
Let’s be honest, pavlova is effectively egg white and sugar so in my view the filling and decoration is what makes a pavlova into truly celebrational dessert. As mentioned above I definitely recommend to keep the filling low sugar therefore I would avoid fillings like chocolate, caramel etc.
Some Pavlova fillings I recommend: Fresh fruit, some herbs like mint or rosemary, a tangy lemon curd (my recipe in here, try it!), fresh berries or sugar-free whipped cream with a tiny bit of vanilla. Try to make it colourful, perhaps use your favourite piping nozzle and decorate with edible flours!
This Strawberry Pavlova is filled with sugar-free cream, strawberry slices and mint. Simple yet amazing flavours! Please note that it is recommended to fill the pavlova straight before serving to avoid the meringue getting soggy from the filling.
6. What equipment is needed to make Strawberry Pavlova
Not much equipment is needed it make this Strawberry Pavlova recipe, 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 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 I used Piping bag with a round nozzle tip of 1cm / 0,4inch in diameter.
Did I mention Digital oven thermometer? Yes, I did and you know why:)
7. Why not try my coloured (pink) Pavlova too?
Once you nail the basic Pavlova recipe, you can make it in any shape and colour of your liking. Check the step by step recipe and design of my Signature Pink pavlova that is the perfect romantic mini dessert for Valentine´s day and beyond!
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RECIPE CARD – Strawberry Pavlova
- 60 g Egg whites approx. whites of 2 eggs
- 120 g Super fine sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Cream of tartar optional
- 1 teaspoon Corn starch optional
- Powder food colouring optional
- 1/2 teaspoon White vinegar optional
- Decorate with double 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
- Start whisking room temp, fresh egg white in a Stand mixer with cream of tartar (optional) on low speed for a few minutes until bubbly
- Add in vinegar (if using) now
- Then very slowly, one table spoon at a time start adding the sugar while mixer on medium / high speed
- Once all the sugar added, start whisking the meringue on higher speed until it becomes glossy and achieve stiff peaks. The meringue is ready when the sugar completely dissolved. Take a small amount between your fingers, if it is grainy, keep whisking.
- Fold in corn starch (if using) 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 2-3h min in 90C / 194F . Start checking the Pavlova at 2h
- When the pavlova baked, open the door slightly (1 cm) and let the pavlova cool down in the oven for a few hours
- Just before serving fill with sugar-free cream, strawberry and a few mint leaves