A Berry Pavlova Wreath is an Australian Classic! Popular year round, but specifically at Christmastime, or during the holidays. Nothing says Australian Christmas to me like a fresh baked Pavlova, topped with fresh fruit.
What is Pavlova Dessert?
Pavlova is a baked meringue desert named after the famous Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. The dessert is believed to have been created in her honour during her tour of Australia and New Zealand in the 1920’s. Meringues are made by beating egg whites until stiff peak peaks form, adding sugar, cornstarch and vinegar and baking at a low temperature. The end result is a meringue dessert recipe. Who knew beating egg whites could be so tasty.
Where Did Pavlova Originate?
It’s still hotly debated if this is an Australian dessert or a New Zealand invention. I'm not wading into that territory. Both nations love this delicious dessert. They say Pavlova was created in honour of the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, when she toured Australia and New Zealand in the early 20th century.
Honestly, you can place any fruit that you love on a Pavlova. Traditionally, you will see it topped with fresh tropical fruits, although there are many variations now. In Australia, it's affectionately called a Pav for short and can be topped with many different sweet toppings. I make this recipe for Australia Day too (the red, white and blue colors on our flag). Here are some Pavlova topping ideas;
- Strawberries, Mango, Kiwi and Passionfruit
- Add some Banana, although change color when exposed to air, but I love the flavor it brings
- Forest Berries - Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries
- Drizzle Passionfruit Curd or Lemon Curd before adding fruits
- Try topping with your favorite pieces of chocolate (like Crunchie honeycomb chocolate pieces) drizzled with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce and mini marshmallows
- Black Forest Pavlova - canned cherries topped with shaved chocolate
- Substitute raspberries with Sugared Cranberries
Can I Use Frozen Fruit on a Pavlova?
You could use frozen berries or frozen mangoes, but I don't recommend it. They will be messy, soggy, and look terrible. Also, frozen fruit is often picked and frozen before it's ripe, and it won't taste nice. Luckily you don't need many fresh berries to make this awesome dessert. If fresh berries aren't in season, use your favorite fresh fruits. When you're short on time, make whip together an Easy Pavlova Trifle which is ready to serve in about 20 minutes.
How to Make a Pavlova Wreath
You can use this recipe to make a regular shaped Pavlova, that is not a wreath. However, it's more festive to make it in the shape of a holiday wreath. Just trace the shape of a wreath on the baking paper, and pour the Pavlova meringue within the lines of the paper.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed, and it's glossy and thick before adding the vinegar and cornstarch. Bake in a low heat oven, 210°F/100°C in a fan forced oven. It takes about 1½ hours for the Pav to bake. It should be ivory in color, not brown (don't burn it)! Allow to cool in the oven with the door open a crack.
Whip some whipping cream with icing sugar (for sweetness), and spoon on top of your cooled Pavlova. Decorate with the fruit of your choice. Dust with some icing sugar. It's like a Christmas Pavlova, and the icing sugar looks like freshly fallen snow.
How to Shape a Pavlova
Once your meringue is whipped and placed on your baking paper, you can impact your design of your dessert. What I mean by that is you can make pretty swirls and peaks that will bake that way to look nice when serving. Using a spatula, you can make swirls on the sides in any design you like. Also when making a Pavlova Wreath, you can almost make a small wide groove in the centre of the wreath. This allows for your cream and fruit to sit nicely in the groove on top of the pavlova. However you design your Pavlova, you have creative license to make it your own!
Tips for Fail Proof Pavlova
- Use the correct sugar! Only Superfine, Caster or Berry Sugar
- Room temperature eggs only! They will whip better for better result.
- Make sure your bowl and egg beaters are clean and non-greasy (this makes a difference). Avoid plastic bowls, use metal or glass bowl when beating the egg whites (plastic bowls can still be greasy from previous foods)
- Don't over whisk the egg whites. They should form soft peaks, but shouldn't be dry or grainy
- Add the sugar SLOWLY! Don't rush it, so it totally dissolves. Check with your fingers, do you feel any sugar grains in your egg whites? If so, keep going! There can be sugar on top of your mixing bowl, so use a spatula often to mix the sides of the bowl. Undissolved sugar is not your friend.
- Bake the Pavlova the night before and leave in the oven to cool overnight for best result. Low and slow!
Can I Use This Recipe as a Regular Pavlova?
Yes, you don't need make this Pavlova recipe into the shape of a wreath. If making a traditional round Pavlova, draw an 8"/20cm circle on your parchment paper. Spoon the meringue on the baking paper and smooth it out evenly, flatten it and make pretty swirl patterns. Bake for the same temperature, and most importantly, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN for a peak! Allow to cool overnight or for at least 6 hours.
The holidays are busy, so you can bake the Pavlova Wreath meringue ahead of time (just don't decorate it). Be sure to keep it in an airtight container until you're ready to cover with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Merry Christmas and Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Pavlova Wreath Base
- 6 egg whites
- 1½ cup sugar use superfine sugar, berry sugar or caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract optional
- 1 fresh raspberries
- 1 fresh blueberries
- icing sugar for dusting
Pavlova Wreath Base
- Preheat oven to 300°F/150°C to start. We will lower this temp when baking.
- Place a layer of baking paper on a baking tray. Using a pencil and a dinner plate as a guide (around 10"/25cm), make circle. Make a second smaller circle inside (around 6"/15cm) resembling the shape of a round wreath.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, still beating the mixture until it is thick and glossy. Add cornstarch and vinegar and very quickly beat until mixed throughout.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop the meringue onto the baking sheet, within the traced lines forming a wreath shape. Using the back of your spoon, gently smooth out the top of the meringue, where your cream will sit. On the visible sides of the meringue, create a small wave, or peak of meringue, which looks nice when it's baked.
- Reduce oven to 225°F/110°C or 210°F/100°C (fan forced oven), and place the pavlova wreath in the oven. Bake for 1.5 hours, or until the pavlova is ivory, not brown. Turn off the oven, and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven. If you remove the pavlova before it's completely cool, it will crack.
Dressing the Pavlova
- Using a mixer, beat the whipping cream, vanilla and 1 teaspoon of icing sugar together until soft an fluffy, with soft peaks formed. Spoon on top of the pavlova. Decorate with fresh berries or fruit of your choice. Dust with icing sugar before serving. Enjoy.