The addition of cornflour and vinegar

Hello everyone.  Yes, I am still alive.  We have been pretty busy over the festive season so I have ignored my blog (and the blogging world, in general). 

“Doing what?” you may ask.  Well, there has been a lot of cooking.  Some of the things I have cooked could easily have made it into a post but I have lost my photography mojo so nearly all didn’t even get a photo, let alone a post-worthy photo.

One dessert that was snapped is the head photo.  The recipe is from the December copy of the Donna Hay Magazine and I was instructed to make it for our family get-together.  I was pretty proud of the final product so I snapped a photo before it was devoured.

Can you believe it?  It was my first pavlova.  I make meringues all the time but have never made a pavlova.  I think it has something to do with when I was a kid.  Pavlovas where big back then, and appeared at every family get-together and celebration and … I didn’t really go for them.  I didn’t like the soft marshmellowy centre.  Even today, I don’t like marshmallows.   Luckily, it didn’t matter that I was not a pav fan.  Invariably, there was also cheesecake on the table and I LOVE cheesecake.

As soon as I was instructed to make a pav, I started researching them.  Not whether the original one was made in Australia or New Zealand (who cares?) but I wanted to know what makes a pavlova different from a meringue.  Apart from the addition of a little cornflour and vinegar in a pavlova, they are both just egg whites and sugar.  BUT, I soon learned, pavlovas must have a soft centre and meringues must be crispy or, at a minimum, chewy.  

Of course, I did a bit more reading and it is suggested the cornflour and vinegar help in keeping the centre soft and the outside crispy, although it has always been my understanding that cornflour and vinegar are used as stabilisers for the egg whites.  My guess is that these two ingredients may help, but it is all about cooking and size.  Meringues are small so invariably will dry out during the cooking whereas pavlovas are large, making it easier to keep the centre moist.  Anyway, it is generally accepted, if your pavlova is crispy in the centre then it is over cooked and you can’t call it a pav.  You have made one large meringue 🙂

I didn’t try mine but I was anxious to know whether the centre was marshmellowy.  Maus assures me it was.  Yippee!

The recipe is just a typical pavlova recipe made into a wreath shape to look festive – and it does.  You can decorate it however you like but the red, white and green of the raspberries, pistachios and cream are particularly festive.

One warning: freeze dried raspberries are bloody expensive (at least, in Perth they are).  I paid $12.95 for 35g (ie 1.32 oz)!  And I doubt anyone noticed them.  Talking about things being expensive in Perth – as we were…  I went shopping two days before I made the dessert.  I noticed raspberries were on special for $4.00 for 125g.  I decided not to buy them as it was still two days before they were needed and I wanted them to be as fresh as possible.  As it turned out, the shop I was in did not have everything I needed so I had to go to another shop for a few items where I noticed  their raspberries were $12.50 for 125g!  Hooly dooly!  I began to panic.  What happens if I had to pay that on the day of making the pavlova?  I quick stepped it to the first shop and bought two punnets for $4.00 each.  Soft berries are downright expensive in Perth.

Raspberry swirl pavlova wreath (Donna Hay Magazine Dec 2017):

  • 225g egg whites (about 6), at room temperature
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornflour


  • 375g single cream, whipped
  • 250g raspberries
  • 2 tbs* pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs* freeze-dried raspberries, finely crushed

Raspberry swirl:

  • 75g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbs* caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.

*These are 20 mil tablespoons.


Raspberry swirl:

  1. Place the raspberries, sugar and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally for 3–4 minutes or until slightly reduced.
  2. Strain, discarding the seeds, and refrigerate to cool completely.


  1. Draw a 22cm circle on a sheet of non-stick baking paper and place, pencil-side down, on a large baking tray.
  2. Preheat oven to 150°C.
  3. Clean your electric mixer’s bowl.  Either wash it in hot water or run a cut lemon  over it to ensure there is no residual oil in the bowl.
  4. Place the room temperature eggwhite in the bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.
  5. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting 30 seconds between each addition. Once all the sugar has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and whisk for a further 6 minutes or until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
  6. Combine the vinegar and cornflour in a small bowl. Add to the eggwhite mixture and whisk for 2 minutes or until glossy and combined.
  7.  Place 12 heaped spoonfuls of the meringue mixture around the inside of the circle to create a ring.
  8. Drizzle the raspberry mixture over each meringue and use a teaspoon to swirl.
  9. Place in the oven, reduce temperature to 120°C and cook for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.
  10. To serve, top with cream, raspberries, pistachio and freeze-dried raspberries, if you desire.

15 thoughts on “The addition of cornflour and vinegar

  1. Pingback: In My Kitchen – February 2018 | Passion Fruit Garden

  2. Hi Glenda, hope you both are well and like you, lost my mojo too and did very little photography or blogging. I never tire of pavlovas… one of our family favorite 🙂

  3. Do you have frozen raspberries in Perth? In Coles they are $4.00 for 500 g, they are fine as a coulis but as they come from Croatia have a lot,of air miles attached. There is never any pavlova left in our family, small fingers (and large) swipe up the bits on the serving plate.
    Hope the new year is happy one for you both.

    • Hi Robyn, we do get frozen berries but geez it gives me the shits that they are grown somewhere (South America quite often) and then packed in China and then shipped frozen to Australia. We can get some NZ ones but they are pretty expensive too. As you might know, I live in the South West and I bought some raspberries from a farm on the way back to Perth and froze the amount I needed for the coulis but it was way too early for the ones on top. I had to buy them in Perth from the supermarkets. I don’t mind too much that they are expensive. Perth does not have berry weather so if you want them, you have to expect that they will be expensive. I am sure other fruit that grows closer is cheaper than it is in Berry land. I have oranges and passionfruit galore, yet people in England pay a significant amount for them.

  4. Hi Glenda, happy new year to you. I adore pavlova and have a couple of trusted recipes. Always enjoy the research you present around recipes on your blog. PS I’m taking a wee break from blogging etc at present, in case I don’t always drop in. xx

    • Hiya Liz. Happy new year to you too. Enjoy your break. I am sure you need it after all your retirement activity. It can be tiring having such a good time 🙂

  5. Welcome back Glenda. I saw this pav on the cover of Donna Hay too- my one magazine splurge for the year- and didn’t make it, so it’s nice to see yours. And thanks for the warning about the cost of freeze dried raspberries. I’m not sure I could justify that price and may just substitute some other berry thing. And welcome to the land of Pav. They are a great standby, especially when you have too many egg whites, and need to take a sweet dish somewhere. They always get eaten.

    • Hiya Francesca, It seems everyone loves a Pav except me. What is it with childhood aversions? I still have never made, or eaten, a trifle. Mum used to soak the cake in brandy and oh how I hated it. I used to eat the custard and leave the rest. KIDS!!

  6. I made this for Christmas too! It was great and yours looks amazing! Here in North Queensland berries are a ridiculous price but lately they’ve come down a bit. I used some frozen raspberries to make a coulis but no way was I going to buy the freeze dried raspberries…hope you pointed them out to your guests. My goodness, that’s nearly as expensive as gold!

  7. i was very fortunate that you took your instructions seriously, as your Pav was a very big hit.


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