Preheat oven to 150°C conventional oven (300° Fahrenheit). Place a sheet of baking paper on a pizza or shallow baking tray. Use a 19cm plate to trace a circle on the baking paper – this will guide the meringue shape.
Using an electric mixer or hand beater, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. You know it has reached stiff peaks when you can turn the bowl with beaten egg whites upside down. If they start to slip down the side of the bowl, you need to beat them more. With the mixer (or hand beater) running, add the caster sugar (superfine granulated), one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until there are no sugar grains. To test, rub it between your fingertips and if it feels grainy, continue beating. Once the meringue mixture is no longer grainy, continue to beat for a further three minutes. Add the white wine vinegar and beat for two minutes.
Tip: The addition of vinegar promotes a more stable meringue. The meringue base can be made first thing in the morning to allow time for setting or even the night before serving and leave in the oven to cool – it keeps perfectly.
Dab a few spots of the meringue under the baking paper to hold it in place while shaping the meringue. Spoon all of the meringue into the centre of the baking paper circle shape. Use a spatula to mould the meringue to the perfect shape – I like to add swirls on the top. Place in the oven and reduce the heat to 120°C (250° Fahrenheit). Cook for 1 hour.
Once cooked, keep the oven door slightly ajar. To do this, we suggest you slide a wooden spoon in the oven door so that it remains slightly open. Allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven for 2-3 hours minimum. This reduces the chances of pavlova cracking. Not to worry if there are some cracks in your Pavlova though, it adds to the character.
Tip: A very important tip is to make sure that you do not open the door of the oven while the Pavlova is cooking.
Meanwhile to make the Crema Chantilly, place the thickened cream in a bowl. Add the sifted icing sugar, vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla bean paste) and lemon (or orange) zest. Use an electric mixer or hand beater to beat until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Top with Crema Chantilly and berries just before serving – buon appetito!