My pavlova turned out too soft , sticky and "gooey". Yellowish liquid was seeping out of it during and continued after baking,
Gooey is how they are meant to be on the inside, with a thin, crisp, and lightly browned shell, otherwise it's a meringue
Weeping is a common small problem, it shouldn't affect it too much, and can be corrected
Check out my post of how to make them What is the best way to making a great pavlova base?
This answer has a few troubleshooting tips, including the weeping issue: What is the best way to making a great pavlova base?
Given that yours was 'gooey' inside, perhaps it was undercooking in this case?
The usual texture is crisp outside crust (which usually collapses and cracks a bit - this is a blowsy dessert, not a neat one - even if it breaks in half as you move it to a plate, just shove the bits together again and carry on) and a stable cooked foam interior, which gives some tooth resistance. Cream on top to cover defects, sharp fruit to dress. Passionfruit pulp is a good base, it's quite sour but with a good flavour.
Reasons a pavlova comes out soft or weeps - remembering that most of them weep a little depending on the humidity -
Overbeaten whites. You should beat using a stand mixer on about 75% of max speed for a maximum of 8-10 minutes or you risk the foam structure collapsing and the pavlova weeping. Start adding sugar at firm peak stage about 1 min 30s, about one dining tablespoon per 20s or so, aiming to have it all in by 6-8 minutes. This is because the foam forms too many bonds between the protein strands, these tighten and squeeze out both air and water molecules, leaving too much free water in the mix.
Undissolved sugar. Use caster/fine granulated sugar, aim to have it all in by 8 mins beating. By 10 mins beating it should be dissolved so that you can't feel grains if you rub a bit of mix between your fingers.
Undercooked foam, unlikely if instructions have been followed.
Overcooking. Unlikely if instructions have been followed and oven temperature is accurate.
Humidity - this is the big one. If the outside crust of the pavlova isn't crisp, humidity is the likely culprit. If this happens, you can put it in a small room and run a dehumidifier, which helps a bit. Leaving uncovered in refrigerator for several hours can also help as long as anything else that might evaporate is covered. Basically if it's humid, cook something else.
Also - more minor - don't add water to the recipe, this is asking for trouble if humid. Don't forget the acid source - usually 1 tsp white vinegar or sharp citrus juice per 4 whites, this helps break sulphur bonds in the egg protein so the foam can form.
Making a pavlova is simple really, and a few technique tips are all you need. To some extent the recipe itself doesn't matter much, it's the technique that makes or breaks it.
So what you do is:
- Ideally use egg whites at least a couple of weeks old, they foam to a larger volume.
- Avoid fat, so use a clean metal bowl and beaters, no plastic, no yolk contamination.
- Oven preheated (my own personal failing)
- Set timer to ten minutes. Start beating at about 75-80% of max speed on a stand mixer. You can use a handheld, but I don't know the times for that. Start adding sugar at firmish peak stage, about one and a half mins. I use a table dessert spoon or tablespoon and add a rounded spoonful every 15-20s or so, flowing it in around the close edge of the bowl to avoid too much weight in one place.
- Add acid after a couple of spoonfuls of sugar.
Finish sugar by 8 mins beating. Continue to beat until sugar is dissolved - test by rubbing between fingers. If you have to beat longer than 10 mins you risk collapse and a bit of weeping.
Fold in cornflour (stabilises it) and vanilla or other liquid flavouring if using.
Pile onto baking paper on tray in a rough circle about 4" high and roughly smooth the top. Cook as directed. This should involve turning off the oven at end of cooking and leaving in a closed oven until cool.
When cold, shift to a flat serving plate. The easiest way to do this is to lift the baking paper with pavlova still on it onto the plate. Roll one edge of the paper under (towards the plate) and gradually peel back from underneath the dessert base.
This reads long, I know, but the process is in fact quick and easy.
I have just experimented and made my third pavlova. The first two turned out a golden colourule and a bit soft although they tasted OK. The third one was white and looks perfect. Followed Delia's recipe plus tsp vinegar and tsp rose water. Heat oven to gas mark 1. Place pavlova in the oven and reduce temperature to 's' (slow) for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven leave door ajar to cool and dry overnight.