Years ago my husband and I went through a furious pavlova production phase. We tried all different methods of cooking pavlova (based on no particular evidence, just feeling sure that we would hit upon the perfect pav sooner or later). Pav after pav cracked with only a tiny bit of meringue in the middle. Years later I hit upon a recipe that combined ingredients and method perfectly. I've spent the last ten minutes trying to find the owner online to no avail. This comes from my personal recipe book: a battered blue hardcover 2B5!
The only pavlova recipe that works every time
3 egg whites (at room temperature - place in a bowl of warm water for ten minutes otherwise)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsps cornflour
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp malt or white vinegar (I've use balsamic in a pinch)!
Preheat oven to 120C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the egg whites into a large, very clean (you can rub half a lemon over the surface to ensure it is oil free) china, metal or glass bowl (NOT PLASTIC - the egg whites will not get as stiff). Beat until the egg whites are thick and stiff. Gradually, one teaspoon at a time, add the caster sugar and beat well after each addition. The mixture slowly gets glossy, thick and shiny. Don't rush adding the sugar - it should take about ten minutes. Beat in the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour. Spoon the mixture on to the tray and spread out in a circle about the size of a bread plate (18cm) - then heap on top. If you try to smooth it to have a perfectly flat top you will end up with cracks so I don't bother. Bake for ninety minutes (don't open the oven door at all during this time) until the pavlova is crisp and dry and easily lifts off the paper. Cool completely on a wire cake rack before covering with cream and fruit.
My favourite variation: Orange Saffron Pavlova
I saw this on Food TV once years ago and wrote it down later after the deliciousness of the ingredients wouldn't leave my head alone! Again, it is uncredited I'm afraid. Searching by the ingredients has failed to find the cook.
Use white vinegar for the recipe and prior to use heat gently. Add 1/2 tsp saffron fronds and allow to infuse (try to do this for a good hour or two). Then use the infused vinegar and fronds in the pavlova at the normal point in the recipe. This gives a slight golden colour to the final pav, with a few saffron fronds mixed through. To decorate use half a teaspoon of cardamon seeds and 1/2 tsp of saffron fronds mixed through whipped cream and then put segmented or sliced oranges on top with a couple of cardamon pods as decoration.