This is the BEST Summer Berry Pavlova Recipe. It's got all the right textures and flavors; meringue that is crispy on the outside and super ooey gooey on the inside, a decadent and creamy vanilla pastry cream and all the berries you can imagine. Pavlova is so easily customizable, to fit a colorful Summer brunch, an elegant Christmas party and you can even make cute pavlova nests for Easter.
But this pavlova recipe is homage to Summer. Summer is approaching, especially here in Norway. It's been super strange weather for April. Over 20C (68F) every day the past almost two weeks now. What is up with that? Normally we are sitting with our knitted sweaters long into June, or even July sometimes.
But this time, Summer is already here. I can smell it, the flowers and leaves are getting more and more colorful and lively each day. And when rain suddenly comes and hits the dry ground, it gives off this amazing smell that reminds me so much of warm Summer days (I've found that this smell is called petrichor, so I'm guessing I'm not alone by having fond feelings for this smell).
Norwegians LOVE pavlova cake for Constitution Day 17th of May
However, I shouldn't be talking about Summer just yet. May is the month of celebration in Norway. I'm guessing I've told you this countless times by now (bear with me). May month is also THE month we eat the most Pavlova cakes. I think the Pavlova cake is the most important cake on our big cake tables in May. Simply because it's a perfect cake with all the elements we need. It's easy to make ahead, naturally gluten free, and it is just mega delish.
On 17th of May we celebrate our Constitution Day, which means we walk in parades in our funny national costumes and eat a lot of hot dogs, ice cream and pavlova cake. I've never eaten much ice cream on 17th of May, but each year I have a big slice of a delicious pavlova!
This is also why I'm sharing my best Summer Pavlova recipe with you now. Hoping to spread a little patriotism, even though you're Norwegian, American, French or Moroccan, this post is about loving your traditions and perhaps learning about someone new in the process.
Origin of Pavlova: What is Pavlova?
The pavlova cake was named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. It was made in honor of her guest performances in Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Both Australia and New Zealand have this cake as their national dessert, and they can't really agree as to who 'invented' it. I'm just happy someone did, because it's a frikkin awesome cake. To read more about the history of the pavlova dessert, check out this post at Food 52.
And if Norway was to choose a new national dessert, I'm positive the pavlova would be it. It's funny that Norway's national dessert is actually named the World's Best Cake, and they've gotten it wrong - the pavlova cake IS the world's best cake.
How to Make the Meringue for this Pavlova Recipe
Meringue has gotten a bad reputation. I don't think it's that difficult to make. There are of course a few things to keep in mind, but if you do these things, you just can't go wrong! I will be repeating myself here, because I've already mentioned a bunch of this stuff in my fab Blackberry Lemon Curd Pavlova Nests.
French, Swiss or Italian Meringue?
First of all, there are three popular types of meringues. I'm using the French meringue version here, which makes this cake light, with crispy exterior and ooey gooey interior, but using the Swiss version is also popular for cakes.
- French Meringue: uncooked meringue, that is the least stable but the lightest. The sugar is gradually beaten into the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Swiss Meringue: this is slightly firmer and denser than the others. Here you stir the egg whites and sugar together over a pot of simmering water, until it's warm to the touch, and then you whip them.
- Italian Meringue: stable and smooth, perfect for buttercreams. Hot sugar syrup is beaten into the egg whites after the eggs whites have been whipped to soft peaks, and then whipped until glossy firm peaks.
This is something that should have its own blog post, so I'm not getting into more detail about the differences here and now. If you're more interested in the differences, I can redirect you to Cook's Illustrated. But here's my tips for making French meringue for this pavlova recipe:
Tips for French meringue pavlova
- Use old, room temperature egg whites (At least 30 minutes). This makes it easier to fluff!
- Everything needs to be fat free. Clean your bowl, preferably one in metal or glass, and make sure you don’t get any yolk into the egg white - and no touchy with fatty fingers!
- Don’t rush the beating process – the slower you add in the sugar, the better it will incorporate.
- Beat until glossy stiff peaks. This means you can hold your mixer and the meringue will reasonably hold its shape. If you tilt your bowl, the meringue will not slide out.
- Bake in low temperature for a longer period of time. This makes it easier not to brown the meringue.
- Cool the meringue in the oven. Just turn the oven off, crack the door open and let cool completely. About 4 hours, but overnight – or days – is fine too.
- Do not refrigerate finished pavlova, it needs to be stored in a dry place.
Easy Pavlova Recipe
Take out your eggs from the fridge and separate the egg whites from the yolks while the eggs are still cold. They are easier to separate when they're cold. Save the yolks for the vanilla pastry cream (see below). Let the egg whites rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. They can also sit on the counter over night.
Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Add parchment to a baking tray.
In a clean metal or glass bowl, whisk your egg whites on medium high speed. Add in the white wine vinegar (or lemon juice). Mix sugar, cornstarch and vanilla bean sugar together before slowly adding it to the egg whites. If you use vanilla essence instead of vanilla bean sugar, pour it into the egg whites by itself, after the vinegar. Beat for 10-15 minutes. I needed about 14 minutes for it to become glossy and stiff peaks form (check if the meringue holds its shape when you turn your beater upside down).
Using a spatula, just add the meringue to the parchment covered baking tray. Form your desired cake size with the meringue. You can add it all to make a thick cake, or you can leave a little and make a slightly thinner cake. For this pavlova recipe I made a 9 inch round cake + 4 mini pavlovas.
Reduce temperature to 212 F (100C)
Right before baking the pavlova, make sure you reduce the temperature in the oven to 100C (212F). Place the baking tray at the bottom rack of the oven and bake for around 80-90 minutes. You want it to be crispy on the outside, not browned, gooey on the inside, and they will easily let got of the parchment paper. This will obviously not be easy when you aren’t supposed to get them out of the oven before they are cool.
What I do is I check if I can visibly see any wet parts, if I do, I just continue to bake. If I see it begins to brown I turn the oven off. Once you think they are done, crack the oven door open, turn off the heat and let it cool to room temperature inside the oven. It will take around 4 hours to overnight.
They can also stay in the oven for days (side note: not always a good idea, I did this with some other pavlovas and I forgot them whenever I needed the oven and so I burned them – however they were still super delicious so I ate them, yum).
How to Store Pavlova: The Perfect Make Ahead Dessert!
This pavlova recipe is great for making ahead. You can make the pavlova days in advance, just storing it in a dry place. The vanilla pastry cream also keeps great. Store it covered for up to 5 days in the fridge. So when you want cake, you just assemble and you're ready to go!
However, once the cake is assembled with pastry cream and berries, I would suggest eating it within a few hours (or the hour really), because the crispy exterior of the meringue quickly turns soft once it is exposed to moisture. I think it's still delicious, but it's not exactly what we're looking for. Especially not since it's super easy to just store all the elements separately, and for several days!
How to make Vanilla Pastry Cream
Sure, you can use store bought vanilla pastry cream, but what are you going to do with all the egg yolks you separated from the egg whites for the meringue? I'm telling you, the people who invented pavlova was genius! The vanilla pastry cream is this crispy pavlova meringue's soulmate. As made for each other. You get the picture.
It's not difficult to make your own vanilla pastry cream, but things need to happen in the right order. Cut open and scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean (1 & 2). Pour the milk, ⅓ of the heavy cream and half of the sugar into a saucepan, along with the vanilla bean and seeds (3). Heat up to the point of boiling, constantly stirring.
In another bowl, whisk together ⅓ of the heavy cream, egg yolks, cornstarch and the rest of the sugar (4 & 5). Cool the milk mixture a little bit before slowly pouring it into the egg mixture while constantly whisking (6). Pour this mixture back into the saucepan, make sure you bring with you the vanilla seeds (7). Heat the mixture back up, until it is thickening (8). Remember to stir.
Place the saucepan into a tub of cold water. If you want you can flavor the vanilla pastry with rum essence. Take the last ⅓ of the heavy cream and whip it. Once the vanilla custard is cold, fold in the whipped cream (9 & 10).
Make this Pavlova Recipe into a delicious Summer Berry Pavlova
- A banging meringue / pavlova cake - check
- A smooth, creamy vanilla pastry cream - check
And now, the fun part; assembly. Remember what I said about eating it pronto after assembly. Place your pavlova cake on to a cake stand. Dollop as much vanilla pastry as you want on top, spread it evenly. I like to leave the edges of the cake clean, to make sure it stays crispy. And then add as much berries as your heart desires! I'm a berryholic, loving all kinds of berries. So I'm adding a thick layer.
Strawberries for the sweet, and raspberries for the tart, and blueberries for the color and because it's BLUEBERRIES. You can add whatever berries you like, but go for at least one sweet and one tart, and it will be just perfect! Sprinkle with a few mint leaves and you can even sift a little powdered sugar on top.
And yes, I know layering a pavlova cake is super pretty, but it's also highly impractical considering it's crispy characteristics. This cake is meant for eating. Like NOW.
So helloo what are you waiting for. Go make this BEST Summer Berry Pavlova Recipe ASAP. I hope you'll enjoy this easy summer berry dessert!
Other spring and summer desserts
- Lemon Lilac Cupcakes
- Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese and Crumb Topping
- Red Currant Lemon Curd Brulee Tart
- Blackberry Lemon Curd Pavlova Nests
- Easy Homemade Blackberry Syrup
- Chocolate Lava Cake with Red Currant Raspberry Sauce
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later!
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