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Was My Lemon Pavlova Right?

Asked by Funkybetty. Answered on 9th August 2019

Full question

It was easy to make the Lemon Pavlova base. I cooked it on the non-fan setting in my oven for the time allowed, as that's what we do in our oven for cakes, thought it was cooked when I took it out the middle was like a soft whipped egg. Not impressed at all as a meringue of this size should be cooked in an hour in the middle so why didn't this? Nigella says it should be marshmallowy in the middle but this was more like a cheese cake - why?

Lemon Pavlova
Photo by Keiko Oikawa
Lemon Pavlova
By Nigella
  • 14
  • 2

Our answer

Nigella's Lemon Pavlova (from SIMPLY NIGELLA) has a meringue base that is flavoured with lemon zest. Nigella has several similar meringue bases and they all cook in about the same time. The meringue base is put into an oven preheated to 180c/160c fan/350F and then the oven is immediately turned down to 150c/130c Fan/300F and the meringue is left to bake for an hour. This method gives a crunchy crust on the outside of the meringue and a set, but still soft, centre. When the meringue is described as "marshmallowy" it means that the egg whites are set but soft, and not dried out like a tradtitional meringue would be. We suspect it could also be described as being similar to a cheesecake in texture. The centre of the meringue should not be too chewy and often pavlova meringues are flipped over before being smothered with cream and toppings, so that the meringe and the soft centre meld together.

However, you should make sure that the oven is thoroughly preheated before putting the meringue in to bake as the intial blast of heat is important for the baking of the meringue. Once the baking time is over you can leave the meringue in the switched off oven - with the oven door slightly ajar - to cool and this will help to stop the meringue from cracking as it cools.

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