A new Norwegian tradition

Prepare an impressive pavlova in red, white, and blue for Norwegian Constitution Day


Photo by Christy Olsen Field
Egg whites, sugar, whipped cream and berries come together for a festive dessert called pavlova.

Taste of Norway Editor

With 17th of May on the horizon, I’m already planning my at-home celebration. And by celebration, I mean dessert. 

I am so excited to share my recipe for pavlova, the most delicious* dessert in my repertoire. I’ve made it at least a half dozen times over the past year.

Pavlova is a show-stopping dessert made of whipped egg whites and sugar, crowned with whipped cream and berries. It’s a delightful play of textures: crisp outer shell, chewy interior, and crowned with whipped cream and fresh fruit. It’s naturally gluten-free, too!

Pavlova has its origins in New Zealand (or Australia, depends on who you ask), and named after the Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured through Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.

Though it’s not a traditional Norwegian dessert, pavlova is a very popular choice on the kakebord (cake table) for Norwegian Constitution Day celebrations. Norway actualy ranks No. 1 in the world in pavlova recipe searches, which spike the highest in the days leading up to 17th of May.

In my research, one writer said that pavlova is a homely, rustic dessert. I couldn’t disagree more! To me, pavlova transforms humble ingredients of eggs, sugar, and cream into an elegant, striking dessert that just happens to be in the color scheme of the Norwegian flag.

And the best part? It’s actually not hard to make. 

The recipe I use for pavlova comes from Zoë François, pastry chef and author of the best-selling cookbook series Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I love her blog ZoeBakes.com, and I turn to her for trusted recipes that work. 

Instead of making it on a sheet pan, François makes her pavlova into a mound. She offers a great step-by-step video tutorial for pavlova on her Instagram account, @zoebakes.

I layer my pavlova with homemade lemon curd, lightly sweetened whipped cream, and fresh berries. 

Some tips for pavlova I’ve picked up along the way:

Make sure your mixing bowl and whisk are clean—very clean. A drop of oil or grease in the mixing bowl or on the whisk can prevent your egg whites from whipping properly (unfortunately, I have personal experience with this).

You could certainly use a hand whisk to do this, but it requires the patience of a saint and the arm strength of Thor. I have neither, so I let my stand mixer do all the work to whip the egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks. 

You can make the meringue up to four days ahead of serving. Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Add the whipped cream and berries right before serving.

I have learned that the leftovers don’t store well. If social distancing measures are still in place by 17th of May or beyond, you can portion out into individual-sized meringues to bake instead.

I decorate my pavlova with Norwegian flag toothpicks that I found at Scandinavian Specialties in Seattle. They aren’t necessary but highly recommended! They can be found through a number of online and brick-and-mortar Scandinavian shops.

I hope you’ll celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day with me with a homemade pavlova! 

* Non-chocolate dessert, that is. 

Pavlova med sitronkrem og bær (Pavlova with lemon curd and berries)

By Christy Olsen Field

Meringue recipe slightly adapted from ZoeBakes.com

4 large egg whites 

(reserve the yolks for lemon curd)

Pinch of salt

¼ cup cold water

1¼ cups granulated sugar

1 tsp. vinegar 

(white wine, cider, or distilled)

1 tsp. vanilla extract  

4 tsp. cornstarch


1 cup lemon curd 

(optional, but I highly recommend 

it!—recipe follows)

2 cups lightly sweetened 

    whipped cream

1½ cups fresh berries 

(I used strawberries and blueberries 

for this, raspberries are also divine)

2 tbsp. powdered sugar

Norwegian flag toothpicks


Preheat oven to 300°F. Trace an 8-inch circle on a piece of baking parchment, and set it in a baking sheet.

Whip the egg whites and salt together until medium-stiff peaks.

Add the water slowly, while whipping the whites on low speed. Drizzle in the sugar, then turn up the speed and whip until stiff, glossy peaks. It takes about 7 to 10 minutes with a stand mixer.

Fold in the vanilla, vinegar, and cornstarch with a rubber spatula.

Mound the meringue into the circle on the parchment. Use an offset spatula (or a dinner knife) to create the design in the meringue.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the meringue starts to turn a very pale tan color, then reduce the heat to 275°F and continue to bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven (don’t open the door), and let the meringue sit in the cooling oven for at least an hour. It can be stored like this overnight.

The center of the pavlova will collapse, but that is where the filling goes. If the outside edges crack, that’s also ok. It adds charm!

Fill with lemon curd (recipe below), whipped cream, and berries of your choice. Dust with powdered sugar, and decorate with Norwegian flag toothpicks.

Hjemmelaget sitronkrem (Homemade lemon curd)

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, sallysbakingaddiction.com

Homemade lemon curd is actually quite easy to make at home and in a league of its own compared to store-bought curd.

4 egg yolks

23 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp. lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

13 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)

18 tsp. salt

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature


Fill a small saucepan with 1-2 inches of water. Bring it to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer. 

In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt until completely smooth. Place the bowl on top of the simmering pot (taking care that the bowl doesn’t touch the water), and whisk constantly. Whisk and cook until the mixture becomes thick, resembling a hollandaise sauce. If it isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.

Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes to cool. Cut the butter into six pieces. Whisk each piece of butter, one at a time, into the warm lemon curd. The butter will melt from the heat of the curd. Pour the curd into a jar or bowl, and refrigerate until cool. It will last up to 10 days in the fridge.

Vær så god—lucious yum!

Did you make this recipe? I’d love to hear from you! Write to me at food@na-weekly.com.

This article originally appeared in the April 17, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.