Pear & Hazelnut Pavlova Cake

With its jewel-red pears, warm cinnamon and crunchy hazelnuts, this pavlova cake is the perfect Christmas dessert for those who’re not inclined towards steamed puddings. By stacking two pavlovas, you can also achieve the requisite wow factor for the festive table.

Ingredients (Serves 10):


  • 6 large egg whites
  • 260g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 40g cornflour
  • 40g chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar


  • ½ bottle red wine (as cheap as you like!)
  • 6 pears, ripe but firm
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 star anise (optional but nice)
  • 125g sugar
  • 600ml double cream, whipped
  • 20 hazelnuts rolled in edible glitter


  1. Preheat the oven to 140ºC. Line the base of two deep 20cm round springform tins, but don’t grease them.
  2. First, make the pavlovas. Whisk the egg whites and salt until just reaching a stiff peak. Add the sugar slowly, a spoonful at a time. Gently but thoroughly fold in the vanilla extract, vinegar, cinnamon, cornflour and chopped nuts. Divide the mixture between the two tins, levelling the tops.
  3. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 90 – 120 minutes until they’re firm to the touch in the middle. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the edge and allow to cool for a few minutes. Release the springform and move the pavlovas onto a rack to cool completely.
  4. Next, cook the pears. Put the red wine, cinnamon, star anise and sugar into a deep saucepan, and bring up to boil. Meanwhile, peel, quarter and de-core the pears. Pop them into the saucepan, adding a little water, if needed, to cover them. Turn down to a simmer, cover, and poach till they’re well-coloured and tender.
  5. Remove the pears carefully with a slotted spoon and reserve in a bowl. Boil the remaining liquid until it’s very thick and syrupy, pour over the pears and leave to cool.
  6. No more than two hours before you want to eat, set the first pavlova on a plate. Spread a third of the cream over the meringue, then decorate with about half the pears. Cover with a further third of cream. Top with the second cake, and spread with cream, then arrange the remaining pears artfully on top. Drizzle with the retained syrup, adorn with gilded hazelnuts and serve, using a serrated knife.

Tip: Make everything a few days in advance, storing the pavlovas in an airtight container and the pears in the fridge. It should take you no more than 10 minutes to assemble on the day!

The Pennoyer Centre’s delicious cakes won the EDP Norfolk Food & Drink “Best Baking” Award. The café, in Pulham St Mary, is open Mon-Sat from 9.30am to 3.30pm, and on Sundays 9.30am -2pm for brunch. All proceeds support the Centre, which is a registered charity. | 01379 676660 | The Pennoyer Centre, Station Road, Pulham St Mary, Norfolk, IP21 4QT

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