There are few things more Australian than a Pavlova. Don’t you think? It’s just one of those desserts that, let’s face it, most of us grew up with. Grandmothers all over the country would whip this wonderfully simple dessert out for just about any occasion! And yet, often or not it is not actually made gluten free! I mean what a waste!! I wish more people knew how easy it was to make a gluten free pavlova. Because then we might actually have more dessert options when we go out. Now before we even get started, I don’t want you freaking out that this is actually a hard dessert to nail. Trust me, with a few simple and easy tricks, you’re going to be nailing your Gluten Free Pavlova every time!
Gluten Free Pavlova – It’s Australian, right?
Well now see, here’s the thing. Much like Ugg boots, the Kiwis and Aussies have been arguing over who created the humble pav forever! What we can agree on, is that it was during Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova’s tour of Australia and New Zealand during the 1920’s that it was created. Buuut that’s where things start to get murky. Was it a hotel chef in Wellington, inspired by the ballerina, that wrote the original recipe? Or was it in fact a chef working at The Esplanade Hotel, right here in Western Australia, that penned it first. Either way, the simple pavlova has become an icon in most of ours homes. And rightly so!! I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who hates pavlova!
At it’s core the gluten free pavlova is a simple meringue covered in fruit and clouds of cream. But I think we all know that it can be a touch trickier than that. Oh and let’s not even get started on just how many different variations to the recipe there are! It’s been discovered that there are over 600 versions of the pavlova recipe in existence! Seriously! How many ways can you change up whipped egg whites and sugar!! And yet, here we are. With my own recipe for gluten free pavlova joining the ranks.
Pavlovas are a Family Tradition
So here’s the thing. I don’t normally make the pavlova in our family. It’s my husbands’ Grandmother’s job. Every Christmas, without fail. I bet you have one too, huh. That one person who solely makes the pavlova, no matter the occasion? Even my Mum said just the other day, that she doesn’t actually think she’s EVER made a pavlova because it was always the thing her best friend made and brought along to gatherings. It was that simple.
I think what it comes back to, is people perceive it to be a difficult dessert to make. All that whisking! Who knows what could go wrong! But after many years of watching other people make it, I’ve come up with a few little tricks of my own. And honestly I’ve never had a gluten free pavlova fail on me since.
Patience – It’s A Thing
The trick, I believe is in the first whisking of the egg whites. You need a clean bowl. And no I don’t mean fresh from the dishwasher kind of clean. I mean clean from even you touching it. You see the oils secreted by your skin can disrupt the floofing process. (Yes it’s a word. My word, just roll with it people!) So before you do anything, grab a piece of paper towel, soak a corner in white vinegar and rub it over the insides of your bowl and whisk. Now put it down and don’t touch it! It’s weird, but it works, trust me.
The other key is patience. Which is not something I’m normally known for. In fact I don’t think anyone has EVER used that word to describe me in my life. And yet, when it comes to baking, I am. So even though I know all you want to do is pull that freshly baked gluten free pavlova out of the oven. (and get it straight into your belly!) You must wait. Once the pav is finished baking, simply turn the oven off and crack the door open. Now don’t touch it for at least another hour. Seriously. Go do something else. Walk away from that kitchen folks!
And that it’s! Well OK there’s a few steps in between. But they’re simple, especially if you have a stand mixer. Oh and the whole gluten free part? Simply use gluten free labelled corn flour. That’s all!
Now hop into that kitchen folks and whip yourself up a Gluten Free Pavlova for your next Summer get together. Because there really are no two things that go together better than Pavlova and Summer.
(except maybe Cookies and Cream, Chocolate and Coffee, Gin and Tonic… yeah OK I’ll stop now)
Classic Gluten Free Pavlova
- 4 Egg Whites at room temperature
- 1 1/2 Cups Caster Sugar
- 2 tsp Cornflour White Wings is GF
- 2 tsp White Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder sifted
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 300 ml Thick Cream for whipping
- Fresh Berries and Fruit
- Preheat oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Line a large tray with baking paper and using a plate or cake tin, trace a 25cm circle onto the paper. Turn the paper upside (so the pen marks are underneath) and set aside.
- Before we do anything, let's prep! The key to a great pavlova is the little steps we do before we start. Grab a piece of paper towel and dab a section with white vinegar. Run that vinegar cloth over the inside of your stand mixer bowl that you'll be using to beat your egg whites. Also give the whisk attachment a wipe too. This gives us a good clean base!
- Now crack your eggs and separate your egg whites in a bowl and set them aside to come to room temperature. Cold eggs are easier to separate, but room temp egg whites beat better and fluff up faster!
- Once you're ready, pop your now room temp egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer and straight onto high. Beat for a couple of minutes until they begin to form white peaks.
- Add your caster sugar in approximately 1 tbsp at a time and continue whisking. Be sure that each addition is whisked in thoroughly before adding more.
- Once all the sugar is well incorporated ( you should be able to take a little bit of meringue between your fore finger and thumb and rub them together. You shouldn't feel any sugar crystals!) and you have glossy white stiff peaks, add your vinegar and cornflour. It's best to fold these in by hand so as not to over beat at this stage.
- Scoop your luscious white folds onto the prepared tray, staying within the circle you drew earlier. Pile them into a mountain or smooth them out, the choice is yours! Pop the tray straight into your warm(ish) oven for 1 hour.
- Once the hour is up, your meringue should have crisped up and crackled around the edges, however the middle will be perfectly marshmallowy. Now simply turn the oven off, crack the door open a little and walk away. Allow your pavlova to cool off completely (at least another hour) before serving.
- Serve with clouds of whipped cream and piles of whatever fruit is in season. Since I'm serving this for Australia Day this year, I'll be serving mine with fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries! Check out the notes below for other serving suggestions!
- If you won't be serving your pavlova straight away and instead want to store it overnight, I find the best place for it to be is back in the (turned off) oven on a tray. Don't put them in the fridge and I find storing in a Tupperware container tends to make them weep!
- Remember, always decorate a pavlova just before serving! They don't last long otherwise.
- To create a gorgeous Chocolate Pavlova, simply add 2 Tbsp of sifted Cocoa Powder and 1 tsp Vanilla Extract in with the cornflour and fold together. Bake as usual!
- Or why not make Mini Pavlova's instead! Then each guest can decorate their own however they like!