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Pavlova Base Too Brittle

Asked by margaridab712. Answered on 29th January 2017

Full question

I've already tried making the Lemon Pavlova and the Chocolate Pavlova but in both occasions I had a huge difficulty in removing the pavlova from the baking sheet (lined with baking paper) on to the plate, even after it had completely cooled off. On the one hand, the bottom part of it was very sticky, on the other hand the shell was way to brittle for me to hold it steadily and lift it. Could it be that it was to tall and not wide enough? How can I adjust in order to have a drier bottom and a more resistant shell?

Lemon Pavlova
Photo by Keiko Oikawa
Lemon Pavlova
By Nigella
  • 14
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Our answer

Nigella's Lemon Pavlova (from SIMPLY NIGELLA) is a fairly traditional pavlova meringue base that is flavoured with lemon zest. As with most pavlovas it is baked in a moderate oven and then left to cool with the oven door ajar. The top outer shell will be crisp and thin, but the centre can still be a little soft and you can see from the photograph accomanying the recipe that it may crack slightly when you assemble the pavlova. As the base is slathered with whipped cream then you don't usually notice when the pavlova is served. Usually pavlovas will release fairly easily from non-stick baking paper but you can flip the meringue on to your serving plate before gently peeling away the parchment. To do this put your serving plate, right side down, over the top of the pavlova. Put one hand underneath the baking sheet and one over the base of the plate then carefully invert them so that the meringue is sitting top side down on the plate. Lift away the baking sheet and gently peel off the baking parchment.

If you live in a humid environment then it can be more difficult to bake meringues, though the top shell will also often be a little soft. Once the oven has cooled off you could shut the oven door again and leave the meringue overnight so that the base dries out a little more. The Lemon Pavlova meringue should have a diameter of about 23cm/10 inches and you could trace a circle on to the bottom side of the baking parchment (so that any pencil or ink doesn't touch the meringue) and use this as a guide when you spread out the meringue mixture. If you are using greaseproof paper rather than non-stick parchment then spraying a little water on the paper before spreading out the meringue mixture can sometimes help the baked meringue to release more easily. For the US use parchment paper and not wax paper, as meringues can stick to wax paper. Nigella's Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova (from NIGELLA SUMMER) includes chopped chocolate and cocoa powder which will give it a more brownie-like interior, but the same tips would apply.

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