Pastry chef Lauren Schofield of Brooklyn’s Marlow & Sons, who has baked pavlovas “in a range of home ovens” as many times as she has at work, explains that “pavs are wonderful to make at home because you need so few ingredients.” If you’ve been tempted by the approachable-looking cakes of Instagram—often topped with floppy blossoms and a casual shellac of frosting—and want to try your hand at a decorative dessert, start with a pavlova. You’ll get all the fun of assembly without having to, well, make a cake.
To begin, Lee recommends that you “clear the decks,” and give yourself plenty of elbow room. Lay out your baking tray, lined with parchment, and make sure the bowl of your stand mixture is “scrupulously clean.” Any trace of oil will prevent your whites from rising adequately. He suggests a ratio of one egg to two ounces of sugar—easy enough to remember when you’re on summer holiday and far from a cookbook. A little acid, either white wine vinegar or lemon juice, will ensure that soft, chewy center.
Pavlova is a forgiving dessert, just needing a slow and low bake, which as much dehydrates the eggs as it does cook them. Schofield recommends at least two hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, while Paris-based pastry chef Andrea Sham suggests “going a little longer than what the recipe suggests, in most cases.” To test if yours is ready, try to lift it from the parchment. If it sticks, be patient.