The most heavenly and delicate dessert out there! This classic pavlova recipe with homemade lemon curd, whipped cream and berries is dessert perfection! It’s made with light and fluffy meringue that’s baked low and slow until the outside is crispy and the inside soft and fluffy. The zesty lemon curd, strawberries and raspberries are the perfect pairing for this sweet meringue dessert! Enjoy this impressive dessert for any occasion!
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The History of the Recipe
This decadent and elegant dessert has been around for almost 100 years and for good reason – it’s so delicious! The dessert was made for and named after a famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. She toured the world, including New Zealand and Australia, where a pastry chef came up with this dessert for her. This dessert was said to be ‘as light as Pavlova’ and it’s true! Pavlova is extra light, fluffy and marvelous!
Making Pavlova at Home
Learn just how easy it is to make a classic pavlova at home with my step-by-step video tutorial! This dessert takes a little bit of planning since the baking process is longer than most desserts. When making this for myself, I typically like to make the pavlova in the evening, the day before serving it. This way, it has time to slowly cool.
First, separate 6 large eggs at room temperature and place the egg whites into a mixer bowl along with lemon juice and vanilla. Next, combine the cornstarch and cream of tartar with ultrafine sugar. The sugar needs to be slowly added to the egg whites with the mixer running on medium speed. Once all the sugar is added, keep mixing on medium speed until the sugar is dissolve. Then you can increase the speed until the egg whites reach stiff peak stage. Next, more tips for the perfect pavlova!
Tops Tips for Making Pavlova
Before sharing this recipe, I recipe tested several different methods for making pavlova and these are my tips for the perfect pavlova!
- Start with a super clean mixing bowl!! I recommend washing your mixer bowl with white vinegar and degreasing dish soap. Any amount of grease will cause the egg whites to fall flat and no amount of mixing can fix it!
- Use room temperature eggs. Cold egg whites will take longer to whisk and will be less voluminous.
- Use only ultrafine, baker’s sugar. This type of sugar has very small granules that dissolve easily in the egg whites. While regular, granulated sugar will not dissolve completely, you can still use it but the pavlova won’t be as smooth.
- Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing the sugar to slowly cascade off the spoon and into the egg whites. Adding the sugar slowly will allow it time to dissolve in the egg whites.
- Do the finger test! Test to see if the sugar has dissolved in the egg whites by placing a small amount between two fingers and rubbing the meringue. If it’s still grainy, keep mixing the egg whites on medium speed.
- Do not open the oven door! Cold air will instantly cause the pavlova to severely crack and fall apart. Keep the oven door closed until the pavlova is completely cooled, about 2 hours after turning off the oven.
- Cracks are okay! Any large pavlova will naturally form small cracks along the edges. This is okay!
Having some trouble making the perfect pavlova? Here are some common issues and ways to fix them.
- Egg whites are flat and do not form stiff peaks. Unfortunately, your mixing bowl or whisk attachment had some grease on it and there’s not much that can fix this. Try whisking the egg whites for longer and add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch. If the egg whites are still flat, start over with a super clean mixing bowl.
- Sugar pools and crystalizes around the edges. If you ever have caramelized pools of sugar underneath your pavlova after baking, it’s a sign the sugar did not completely dissolve in the egg whites. Use ultrafine sugar and try mixing the egg whites for longer on a low speed to allow the sugar to dissolve properly.
- Pavlova is severely cracked. Keep the oven door closed until the pavlova is completely cooled! Also, don’t overfill or weigh down the top of the pavlova with too many toppings. The weight can also cause it to crack further.
Homemade Lemon Curd Topping
Let’s be honest – meringue and pavlovas are sweet! To help break up the sweetness and add more flavor, I love to pair this classic dessert with my creamy and zesty homemade lemon curd. I have a separate video recipe for this filling, so make sure to check it out! Also, it’s the perfect way to use up the egg yolks leftover from the meringue recipe. You’ll need approximately ½ cup of lemon curd for this pavlova and you can save the rest for later in the refrigerator. I usually make my lemon curd the day before, or even a few days before, then use it for this dessert when I’m ready to serve it.
Assembling the Dessert
When serving this pavlova, I recommend assembling it up to an hour or right before enjoying so that the meringue stays crispy. I prepare the whipped cream, lemon curd and berries for topping ahead of time and keep the cream stored in the fridge. When ready to serve, I transfer the pavlova onto a cake stand and top it with the whipped cream, spoonful’s of lemon curd and diced berries on top. Just be careful and don’t overload the pavlova. Overfilling it or adding too much weight on top can cause it to crack.
I like to top my pavlova with diced strawberries and raspberries but you can add just about any fruits and berries to the top, such as blueberries, blackberries, apricots, peaches, cherries, kiwi and more. If you want even more berry flavor, try making a raspberry coulis or sauce, like the one I use for this Raspberry Buttercream. The raspberry sauce will be a fantastic pairing with the sweet meringue and zesty lemon curd!
Mini Pavlova Instructions
You can use this classic pavlova recipe to make mini pavlovas, too! Prepare the recipe the same way but instead of making one large pavlova, transfer the meringue into a large pastry bag tipped with a star tip, such as Ateco #847. Next, pipe the meringue onto a baking sheet, forming 3 to 4-inch nest-like pavlovas, leaving a small well in the middle for the fillings. Bake the mini pavlovas for 1 hour at 200F, then cool completely.
Enjoyed this decadent dessert recipe? Check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to enjoy!
- Chocolate Lavender Pavlova – a rich, chocolatey version of this classic, topped with lavender whipped cream and blackberries!
- Berry Paris Brest – one of my favorite pastries! A pate a choux pastry ring filled with whipped cream and berries.
- Lemon Meringue Pie – lemony, zesty pie with a flaky butter crust and a mountain of meringue on top!
- Classic Tiramisu Recipe – you’ll love this amazing recipe for traditional tiramisu, prepared in parfait cups or in a traditional casserole.
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Supplies & Tools
Need some supplies to make this recipe? You can get them here (Amazon affiliate links):
- Ultrafine Sugar – this type of sugar is available in most stores but you can also buy it online.
- Cream of Tartar – this ingredient is a stabilizer for the egg whites.
- 6Qt KitchenAid Mixer – if you’re looking to purchase a stand mixer for the first time, this one is a great option!
- Aluminum Baking Sheets – perfect for desserts, veggies, meats and so much more!
Berry & Lemon Pavlova Recipe (video)
- 6 large egg whites, at room temp
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups ultrafine sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
For Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
For Lemon Curd:
- 2/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice, strained
- 2 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups fruit or berries, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 200F/93C. On the back of a sheet of parchment paper, trace an 8-inch (20-cm) circle and then line a large baking sheet. Wash your mixer bowl and whisk attachment with white vinegar and degreasing soap, then wipe the bowl dry.
- Place the egg whites, lemon juice and vanilla into a stand mixer bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the ultrafine sugar, cornstarch and cream of tartar. Turn the mixer to a medium speed and begin to slowly add the sugar. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, sprinkling it in gradually. Watch my video recipe to see how it’s done. This process will take approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
- Once all the sugar is added, keep mixing on medium speed for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. To test this, place a small amount of the meringue between 2 fingers and rub them together. The meringue should be smooth and without large sugar crystals.
- Turn the mixer to a medium-high speed and whisk for 5 to 8 minutes, or until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy, fluff and holds its shape very well.
- Transfer the prepared meringue on the parchment paper. If desired, reserve 1 cup of the meringue to make meringue kisses. Shape the pavlova using a spoon, forming a tall, round disk with a well in the center. Next, use an offset spatula and smooth the meringue upwards, creating a pretty shape (see video).
- For meringue kisses, transfer the meringue into a pastry bag tipped with a star tip; I used Ateco tip #847. Pipe small dollops onto the same baking sheet alongside the pavlova.
- Bake the pavlova at 200F/93C for 1 ½ hours, then turn off the oven. DO NOT OPEN the oven! Allow the pavlova to slowly cool in the oven for at least 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. As it cools, it may form cracks along the sides and the middle will fall slightly. Keep the pavlova stored at room temperature overnight, if needed.
- When ready to serve, prepare the whipped cream. Place the heavy cream, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar into a mixing bowl and whisk on medium to high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until stiff peaks form.
- Assemble the dessert no more than 1 hour prior to serving. Gently slide a large off-set spatula underneath the pavlova to free it from the parchment paper, then transfer it onto a cake stand. Add spoonful’s of whipped cream on top, followed by spoonful’s of the lemon curd. Top with diced fruit or berries, garnish with mint leaves and meringue kisses. Don’t overfill or overload the pavlova with fillings; this can cause it to crack further.
- Use a sharp, serrated knife for cutting the pavlova; it will break slightly. Serve with extra lemon curd and whipped cream on the side, if desired.
- LEMON CURD: The lemon curd can be prepared while the pavlova is baking or the day before. It needs to cool down to at least room temperature before using. Juice approximately 4 to 5 large lemons and strain the juice twice with a fine mesh strainer. Set the juice aside. In a medium sized stainless-steel pot, combine the eggs, egg yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow in color; it should ribbon off the whisk. Add the lemon juice and whisk to combine.
- Cook the lemon curd over medium-low heat, stirring constantly along the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the curd thickens and starts to bubble lightly. Remove from heat immediately. Add the unsalted butter and vanilla and whisk until the butter is completely melted. Transfer the curd into a glass bowl or glass jar and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming over the top. Allow the lemon filling to cool slightly, then place into the refrigerator. Lemon curd can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.