Beat the egg whites and salt to a very stiff consistency.
Add water and beat again before folding in caster sugar, vanilla and
Beat until the mixture holds its shape and stands in sharp
Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment
Slow-bake the mixture at 150°C (300°F) to dry all the moisture
and create the meringue, approximately 45 minutes.
This leaves the
outside of the pavlova a crisp crunchy shell, while the interior
remains soft and moist.
A top tip (but not traditional) is to turn the
pavlova upside down before decorating with cream and fruit because the
bottom is less crispy than the top after cooking and unless you serve
it immediately after decorating the "top" absorbs moisture from the
cream. Another tip is to leave the pavlova in the oven after turning
off the heat - this helps to prevent the middle of the pavlova from
collapsing (although if it does collapse, generous application of
cream can hide any mistakes!)