My First Pavlova – a collapsed effort

Have you ever made a dish and midway through something went wrong and you knew that it was not going to turn out well? In those times you may struggle with giving up. Should I quit or keep going? Well, this is my story of a similar situation. Read along and discover what happened in the Cylka home tonight!

My family is hooked on Masterchef Australia. Even the kids love it. There have been many times I have been inspired by one of the contestants creations. There was one episode though, that got me totally obsessed with a new dessert. Early in season 2 the contestants had to make pavlova. Well, I had never tasted, nor even heard of, pavlova. I learned that pavlova is a classic Australian dessert and you could buy the premade base at the supermarket like we can buy strawberry shortcake or angel food cake bases here.

I went online and read about pavlovas learning some of the origin and history of this popular dish from the other side of the globe. Here is some of the history of the pavlova, taken from wikipedia:

The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but formal research indicates New Zealand as the more probable source. The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, and with its simple recipe, is frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals.

For the last few weeks I have been itching to try this Australian classic, but always chickened out, knowing that it is so delicate. I finally gave it a go. Donna Hay said on the show that the measurements need to be precise, so I made sure everything was exact. I whipped the egg white until stiff, I slowly added the caster sugar and the meringue took on a nice glossy finish like it was supposed to. I whisked in the corn starch and vinegar and then made the mold of the pavlova. I looked perfect!

I put it in the oven and followed the directions to a T. I let the pavlova cool in the oven overnight and in the morning it looked fine. Tonight after supper I took it out and began to get ready to top it with the whipped cream and fresh fruit. I barely touched it and the pavlova exploded like it was a land mine. The top collapsed in and the sides crumbled all around. I was angry and disappointed. The kids were around and they were sad as well. I wanted to quit, thinking this will not be blog worthy. The kids were great and they said they still wanted to eat it. Once they tasted it they said it has to go on the blog! Well, here it is. It is a mess, it is not Masterchef worthy, but it tastes great!

I remember when I was teaching my middle child this summer to ride a bike. He fell a couple of times and was hesitant to get back on the bike. I kept telling him everytime he fell to jump right back on the bike. He did that and now he rides a two wheeler great. I need to take my own advice and try again to make a perfect pavlova.

Donna Hay said that the egg whites need to be exactly 150ml. That was a little more than 4 egg whites for me.

The pavlova collapsed on top and the sides crumbled. I was quite upset, but the taste was terrific! I even had a second slice right away!

My First Pavlova - a collapsed effort

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 150 ml egg white (approximately 4 eggs)
  • 1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch , sifted
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • whipping cream
  • fresh fruit


  • Preheat oven to 300°F.
  • Place the egg white in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, whisking well, until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Add the cornstarch and vinegar and whisk until just combined. Shape the mixture into an 18cm round on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  • Reduce oven to 250°F and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.
  • Decorate with your desired toppings.



Did you try this recipe?

Leave a comment and let me know how it turned out. Or, take a picture to share on Instagram and tag me @theblackpeppercorn.

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  • Steve: It looks delicious!

    And isn’t that what counts in the end.

    I love presentation, with the best of them.

    But………………. even the best presented dish can taste awful……….I would rather have good taste when it comes right down to it.

    Wish I had of been there to have some!


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  • PS – meant Julia Child not Childs. Always want to put an s on her name for some reason.

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  • I don’t bake, so I am in awe of anyone who can. Cooking is an art and baking is a science, and I was never good at math or science. ;.) This looks good enough for me. I would eat it in a heartbeat. I also appreciate how you posted this today. Things don’t always turn out “picture perfect.” I think so much of the food world today is about style over substance — if it looks good, who cares how it tastes? I’ll bet this tastes just wonderful. I think we all need to remember the lesson from Julia Childs when she tossed her food in the trash ;.) Great post! ;.))))

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  • Looks good to me! What’s a little crumbliness between a man and his dessert? 😀

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  • I think it looks awfully good, all things considered! This is one of those desserts I’ve always been afraid to try making.

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  • Hey, it looks darn good for your first try!!!! And having 2 helpings is a wonderful endorsement. My only hint is to have your egg whites are room temperature…and add the sugar slowly. Can’t wait to see your next attempt 🙂

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    • Room temperature egg whites eh? thanks for the tip. Will do that next time!

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  • I have yet to delve into making anything like this because I know how fragile it can be! I am glad you posted this because it has drawn some helpful tips. However, in the end it is the taste that matters and obviously it pulled some rave reviews. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Taste is the most important. If I wasn’t trying for a nice picture for the blog I wouldn’t have cared as much. But, like you said, this has gotten some good tips to be shared by people which is great. I am ready to try again soon!

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  • I must say this looks absolutely incredible. I mean I’d eat 2 or 10 slices for sure. It’s funny how the ones that don’t always look picture perfect are often the tastiest. I love that you posted it even though it collapsed. I always appreciate blogs and recipe sites that tell it like it is and not martha-ify everything. Thanks for sharing this one.

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    • Thanks Kim! I could have eaten 10 slices as well. It was so light and fluffy. After my first slice it felt like I hadn’t even eaten any yet – LOL! I agree as well Kim that sometimes it is good to share the mistakes, cause we all have them at times.

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  • Who cares as long as it tastes good! I had pavlova for the first time in march, and loved it! Humidity makes a big difference. Play with how long you leave it in the oven too. My recipe only stays in for an hours and a half after you turn it off. One time I left it in for closer to 3 (forgot about it), and it was much more brittle than other times. Who knows for sure though!

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    • Hey Erin, thanks! I think I will definitely need to watch the humidity levels. Also, I like the idea of keeping it in the oven for an hour and a half. I was using Donna Hay’s recipe and she calls for it to completely cool in the oven. That can take a long time.

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  • It looks good to me and as long as it tastes good!!!

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  • Do not give up~or let this discourage you. There is an italian expression here that is quite fitting for when this happens, however, it looks lovely to me~ and I bet it just tasted perfectly fabulous~ wish I could have had a piece… and to me, it’s beautiful ~

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    • Thanks Barbara. I definitely will not quit. I am interested in making it again soon. It tasted sooooo good.

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  • It looks pretty good to me… Sometimes meringue acts funny if the humidity changes. But trust me most of my learning came from mistakes not books

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    • Thanks for the tip Mike. Your comment on the humidity is quite helpful. I was boiling noodles for dinner so it did get quite humid in the house.

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