For one medium pavlova:
1 cup caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp wine vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup (3-4) egg whites
Everybody’s grandmother probably had her own secret pavlova recipe, but here’s our favourite version. It’s a simplified version where everything goes into the mixer at once, but still works really well.
Using standard, level cups and spoons for everything, measure the caster sugar, cornflour and salt into a clean, dry bowl. (Any traces of fat in the bowl or on the beater will stop eggs beating up.) Stir together.
Add the vinegar and vanilla, then measure and add the egg whites, taking care to get absolutely no yolk in the mixture. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed for about 15 minutes, until a thick, non-gritty meringue forms. When you lift out the mixer blades, the peaks should stand up stiffly, or just bend over at their tips.
Cover a baking sheet with baking paper, then pile the mixture onto this into a round shape about 25cm across.
Bake in a preheated oven at 100 degrees Celcius for 60 minutes, then turn off oven and leave for 30 minutes longer. Take out of oven after this time.
Leave unwrapped, in a cool place, up to 2 days. To serve, top with whipped cream. Decorate traditionally with strawberries, kiwifruit or passionfruit or use other fruit. Drizzle chocolate topping over strawberries if desired.
Variations: Use double quantities for a large pav. Pile on baking paper or bake in a paper-lined round 20 or 23cm tin. Bake for 1 1/4 hours and leave in oven for 15 minutes longer.
NOTE: Because ovens vary, cooking times may need slight changes. Pavlovas with space below the crust and compacted middles have been cooked too long. If centres are not completely set, cook a little longer next time. Fan bake for the first 10 minutes if you have this option. If fan baking for whole time, lower temperature by about 10 degrees Celcius.