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Why Did My Pavlova Meringue Collapse?

Asked by Koykoi. Answered on 7th May 2022

Full question

Hello! I made the Pavlova from How To Eat, although I reduced the sugar to 200 g/1 cup (went off the You Tube video where Nigella said to use 4 tbsp per egg white). I cooked and cooled it for the amount of time required and when I inverted the meringue, the bottom was brown and collapsed to the top of the meringue. Any idea of why this was and how to troubleshoot for the next time? Thank you!

HOW TO EAT UK book cover
By Nigella
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Our answer

Nigella has several recipes for Pavlovas, the original recipe in HOW TO EAT) is slightly smaller than some of the later recipes, using only 4 egg whites. For the meringue you would usually use 50-60g sugar per egg white, so reducing the sugar from the 250g/1¼ cups in the recipe to 200g/1 cup should not make a big difference, though a higher level of sugar will give the meringue a slightly crisper crust and stronger structure.

The brown base and slight collapse of the meringue is actually quite normal. A pavlova meringue differs from a regular meringue as it is not dried out. Instead it is baked at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time, giving a soft marshmallow-like centre. The addition of cornflour (cornstarch) to the meringue also helps to keep the centre of the meringue soft. When the meringue is inverted it exposes the soft belly of the meringue and once the whipped cream is added, the two meld deliciously together.

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