Tiered Crown Pavlova (Meringue) Cake

  • Serves: Makes one, two layer 8-inch cake
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 400 initially; then 200; then 175
  • Views: 13857
  • Comments: 2

Pavlova is a soft centered meringue cake decorated with whipped cream and fruit. The question of which country, Australia or New Zealand, first came up with the idea of the pavlova may never be answered. Both lay claim to the invention of this sweet dessert, but neither one can prove it. It has been thought that in 1935, the chef of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia, Herbert Sachse, created the pavlova to celebrate the visit of the great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. 

We love to bake this recipe as a tiered cake. We make two pavlova meringue shells and layer them in between with Fresh Lemon Curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit. We then top with the same, decorating with edible flowers. For our rendition, we think it is more beautiful when the meringue is piped into designs before baking; you can be creative here and design whatever suits you. Even make it into a square-shaped tiered Pavlova cake or a few small mini-tiered ones. This makes a wonderful year round dessert. 


Make sure both the beaters and mixing bowl you use are clean and grease-free, otherwise the egg whites won't whip. It is also important to follow our egg white beating instructions to get the best possible stable meringue for your Pavlova.

1 recipe Fresh Lemon Curd, chilled; make in advance

Pavlovas (Meringue) - makes two:
8 large (about 1/2 cup) egg whites; can be cold from the fridge
1 cup superfine or regular sugar
2 teaspoons white distilled or white balsamic vinegar; do not use white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch 
pinch salt

Whipped Cream:
2 cups whipping or heavy cream 36 to 40% butterfat (read carton label), well chilled
2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling and Garnish: 
1 pint blackberries
2 pints blueberries
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
edible flowers such as pansies, rose petals, or small orchids, optional

Equipment, optional:
3 large disposable piping bags; do not use piping bags that previously had any grease or fat in them
1 large open piping tip, such as an Ateco 806; make sure the tip is free of grease or fat 
1 large open star tip, such as an Ateco 824; make sure the tip is free of grease or fat

Make the Meringue:

1. Position an oven shelf in the middle and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
SARAH SAYS: Make sure you can fit two baking sheets at once on the middle shelf. If not, see step #2 about fitting all of your work on one baking sheet.

2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or wax paper. Using a plate or an pan as a guide, then trace an 8-inch circle on each of the papers (you will need two). Place the papers, pencil side down, one on each baking sheet.  
SARAH SAYS: If you cannot fit two baking sheets on the middle shelf at once, try and fit both 8-inch circles on one baking sheet if you can only fit one baking pan in the oven at a time. Make sure there is at least two-inches between each circle and the walls of the oven allowing for expansion between the two pavlovas as they bake.

2. Put egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium-low speed until frothy, about 2 minutes.

3. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until whites form soft peaks, taking about 2–3 minutes.

4. Slowly add the sugar in a steady stream at the side while beating at medium-high speed, and then add the vinegar and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until stiff and glossy. Then, STOP!
SARAH SAYS: If egg whites are beaten to dry and dull, they are overbeaten -- Watch carefully, because egg whites can go from stiff to dry and overbeaten in as little as 30 seconds.

5. Sift the cornstarch and salt over the whites with a small fine mesh strainer. Gently fold in with a large rubber spatula.

Form the Pavlova meringue shells: two options
Option 1 - With a large spoon:

1. Immediately, heap half of the meringue onto one circle on the parchment paper at a time, GENTLY swirling it out with a large rubber spatula or with the back of a large soup spoon to fill out the 8-inch circle.
Make sure you form higher sides around the edge, leaving a wide indentation in the center, taking care not to make it too thin. The meringue will puff during baking.

2. Repeat with the remaining half of the meringue onto the second circle drawn on the parchment paper.

Option 2 - With a piping bag fitted with tips:
SARAH SAYS: Instead of making the pavlova shape with a spoon, you can pipe the meringue onto the traced circles, making designs, as we do below:
1. To pipe the meringue, place half of the meringue in a piping bag, fitted with a large open tip.  

2. Pipe small dots of the meringue on the corners of each baking sheet and press the parchment with the circle drawn on it, into place.

3. Pipe the meringue, in a tight spiral, starting from the outside of the circle.
NOTE: Start piping on the inside of the drawn circle.

4. Smooth the ridges with a small offset spatula. 

5. Repeat with the second meringue circle.
If you have any meringue left after piping the two circles, squeeze it back into the bowl of meringue.

6. Fill another piping bag, fitted with a large open star tip, with all the remaining meringue. 
Pipe rosettes of meringue all around the perimeter of the meringue base; do not fill in the center. Repeat with the second meringue base.

7. Using the same tip, then pipe smaller stars of meringue between each rosette. Repeat with the second meringue base and rosettes.

1. Immediately put the Pavlova meringue shells in middle of oven and reduce heat to 200 degrees F to bake for 1 hour.

2. Then, in the last 1/2 hour, turn the oven down to 175 degrees F.

Bake until they are set but somewhat soft when pressed lightly with a fingertip.  You don't want them to get too dark in color.
SARAH SAYS: You do not want to bake the meringue shell until it dries out; a pavlova should be somewhat crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.

3. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and let the baked Pavlova meringue shells cool in the oven for 1/2 hour.

4. Then remove the baking sheets from the oven and let them come to room temperature.

5. DO NOT attempt to remove the parchment paper until the meringue shells are completely cool!

Make the whipped cream: Whip cream to soft peaks.
1. In a mixing bowl, add the cream, sugar and vanilla extract.

2. Using a hand-held electric or stand mixer, beat on low-speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds, and then increase the speed to medium and then to high.
Move the beaters up and down and around the side of the bowl while whipping if using a hand-held mixer. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the side of the bowl often.
3. Stop whipping when the cream has doubled in volume, is smooth, thick and billowy when the beaters are raised.

4. Set aside or refrigerate until needed.

Assemble the Pavlova Cake:
1.  Place one baked and cooled Pavlova meringue shell on a flat platter. 

2. Put 1/2 of the lemon curd in the center of the shell, and spread it with a small offset spatula.

3. Then spoon about 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream over the lemon curd.

4. Arrange some of the blueberries, blackberries and kiwi slices over the whipped cream, then gently place the second Pavlova meringue shell on top.

5. Place about 1 cup of the whipped cream in a disposable piping bag and fill in the areas in between the rosettes with whipped cream on the first Pavlova meringue shell.
Artfully tuck berries and kiwi slices into the whipped cream, alternating fruit, so it looks pretty.

6. Put the rest of the lemon curd on the top Pavlova meringue shell layer, spread it with a small offset spatula.
Cover it with the rest of the whipped cream.

7. Arrange more berries and kiwi slices on top of the whipped cream.
If desired, add some edible flowers. We used small pansies, but rose petals would also be nice.

8. Refrigerate for about 1/2 hour before serving.

Slice pavlova into wedges to serve.

The Pavlova meringue shells can be made ahead and stored in airtight container in dry, cool place up to 2 weeks or frozen in airtight container up to 3 months.
The assembled Pavlova must remain refrigerated. It will keep for a day or two. It cannot be frozen.

Fruit Topping Suggestions:
Nectarines, blueberries, and raspberries
Peaches, plums, golden raspberries, blueberries
Mangoes, bananas, oranges, pink grapefruit
Apples, pears, grapes, dried cranberries

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