Australia’s most famous dessert is now popular in restaurants around the world. The keys to success with a ‘pav’ are extended whisking and the addition of tiny amounts of boiling water and white wine vinegar to the egg whites. An electric whisk, while not essential, is advisable, unless you have a Schwarzenegger wrist and bicep.
Preheat the oven to 130°C/275°F/gas 1 and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites with the sugar for 1 minute. Then, continuing to whisk, add the vinegar, boiling water and vanilla extract. Whisk hard for 10 minutes.
With a large spoon, spread the mixture in 4 mounded circles on the prepared baking sheet. The sides of the mounds should be higher than the middle to accommodate the filling. Bake for 45–60 minutes. The pavlovas should be crisp, but only lightly tinted on the outside and marshmallow-soft in the centre. It is impossible to be precise about the cooking time, since ovens are variable in their performance at low temperatures and here you have a number of other determinants, like the exact size of the eggs, the stiffness of the mixture and the size and shape of the pavlovas.
Decorate with summer fruit to serve.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.