- STEP 1
PREHEAT THE OVEN to 150C/130C fan/300F/gas 2. Very lightly oil a baking sheet and cover with a sheet of nonstick baking parchment.
- STEP 2
TO WHISK THE EGG WHITES Using an electric mixer, or a bowl and electric hand whisk (ensure both bowl and whisk are spotless), beat the egg whites with the caster sugar until very firm – about 4 minutes – then add the icing sugar, vanilla extract, cornflour and vinegar, and beat for another 3 minutes until very firm and glossy.
- STEP 3
FOR INDIVIDUAL MERINGUES Using a large metal spoon, dollop spoonfuls of the mixture on to the prepared baking sheet, allowing at least 5cm between them. Shape or swirl them to your liking with a spatula or knife, or allow a trail of mixture to flop over backwards, making a peak. FOR A PAVLOVA BASE Using a large metal spoon, scoop the mixture on to the baking paper, then, using the back of the spoon and starting from the centre, spread out and flatten slightly in one sweep, to give a round cushion with a slight dip in the middle. Don’t touch the sides as this will spoil the fluid lines.
- STEP 4
TO COOK THE MERINGUES Just before placing them in the oven, reduce the heat to 140C/120C fan/275F/gas 1 and bake on a middle shelf for 35 minutes for individual meringues, 1 hour 10 minutes for a pavlova. Turn off the oven, open the door and leave the meringues to cool gently for a few minutes before removing. Once out of the oven leave in a warm place to cool (this helps prevent excessive cracking, although a few cracks are the norm). Meringue should be marshmallow-soft at the centre, with a fragile and crisp exterior. When cool, carefully detach from the paper and, if made in advance, keep in an airtight container for up to two days.
- STEP 5
TO FINISH A PAVLOVA Whip 300ml double cream with 1 tbsp icing sugar until it forms soft peaks, then pile on to the base and top with fruit of your choosing (passionfruit and berries are especially good)