birthday thinking and a berry meringue tart

I’ve just celebrated another birthday rolling around. Time spent with lovely people, delicious food and lots of happy moments.

I’ve also been thinking of another that is no longer here.

Thinking of my grandfather who left me with a head full of happy memories, that I frequently bring out and go through. Flicking through those memories like a well worn scrap book, with mental scribbles, loved pictures and happy moments.

Ours was a shared birthday. It was always such a special feeling knowing that our birthday was on the same day. Giving me a loving connection with the grandfather I adored.

A man, who to me always smelt like smoked apple wood, and occasionally raw onions as he loved them on sandwiches.

He had a sweet tooth for certain things, introducing me to sugar coated jubes that would get soft and squishy in the car. There were scoops of vanilla icecream with spoonfuls of his home made jam on top. He also knew answers to more trivia questions than I could ever hope to know in a lifetime. Answers would roll off his tongue like a well rehearsed dialogue. No pause for thought as the reply seemed so easily retrieved.

Big boxes of locally grown apples would be brought by him when ever he came to visit, followed by bulging jars of loose change to be carefully counted and divided amongst the grandchildren. Counting was always my job, as I was the eldest. Every cent was divided up and then we could spend it in any way we wanted.

He was there when I first rode my bike. He was also there, teaching me to dive in the pool during summer. Tuck the feet in, tuck the feet in…

We would go to visit and on his arriving home after a long day, we would hear the sounds of his footsteps coming up the stairs.

Clomp, clomp, clomp

The stairs always lasted forever as he continued stepping on the same few top stairs, making it sound like they were ten stories high. Building up the excitement, my siblings and I giggling with anticipation of him being so close. Long squashed hugs would follow, as we would all scramble for his attention.

In his last year, while he was sick, I got to tell him that I had met the man I was going to marry. This comforts me in a funny kind of way. Even though he didn’t get to be at my wedding or get to know any of his great grandchildren, he at least got a glimpse of the path I was about to head down. A path, I think that would have made him incredibly happy.

As long as I have these special memories and a hundred others, he will always be with me. Not mourned over for his loss, or the unfairness of a life taken away too soon but celebrating in the life that he did have. A life that I got to share a little part of, which I’m incredibly grateful for those years, and those birthdays we did get to share together.


…and I also think he would have quite liked a slice of this birthday berry tart.

Drawing from  my last years ‘a rather tall birthday cake‘ and also inspired by a gorgeous recipe from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie does…cookbook‘. This little number was the result.

Berry Meringue Tart

Pastry (recipe here) base can be cooked the day before. Pastry pricked all over and then baked blind for 20 minutes at 180C in a greased tart pan (the kind that pops out is good) and then a further 10 minutes uncovered. Pastry should be crisp and golden.

Meringue (recipe here) clusters baked on a tray at 130C until crisp all over, this will take an hour plus. (I used 4 egg whites/220g sugar.)

Mascarpone vanilla bean cream. Whip 300mls cream to soft peaks, then add 1/2 cup icing sugar and one scraped vanilla bean pod. Add 250g mascarpone and gently whip again until mixed through.

Berries- strawberries, blueberries and cherries.

Smooth out several spoonfuls of the mascarpone mixture on to the base of the cooked pastry. This will help the meringue stick a little. Break the meringue up and build a decent sized layer, Spoon the remainder of the mascarpone mixture all over, filling in any meringue holes and then cover with your favourite berries. Dust with a little icing sugar.

59 thoughts on “birthday thinking and a berry meringue tart

  1. No wonder you had an exceptionally special bond with your grandfather. Your words really painted a well loved image of him. I find posts like these really valuable. Especially for your children, as later in life they may read this and learn more about you, your grandfather and even themselves. (At least that’s what my ‘grown’ kids are telling me).
    Your berry tart looks fit for the front cover of “Delicious”; it’s truly stunning. Sounds like you had a birthday filled with memories. Happy birthday. Mariana xxx


  2. Happy happy birthday!!! My day too!! altough I´m not a young woman and mom, but from time to time I read your posts and look at your beautiful pictures!!
    Have a nice day!!! I´m now going to prepare my cake…. your berry tart looks yummy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. And they say only the good die young! Your grandad sounded wonderful. I envy (in a nice way) your relationship with a grandparent, I had none but wish I had. Even my own son has had none close enough. But yours sounds extra special. Good for you. Your post was excellent, well written, it really got me in.


  4. Happy Birthday Brydie, and to your lovely Grandfather – it sounds like he was a wonderful, wonderful man – just like a grandfather in a story book! You obviously have some very precious memories of special times shared with him. People may die, but love never does. He will live on forever in your heart, and by sharing your lovely stories and memories, he will continue to live in the hearts of your children.


  5. Happy Birthday, Brydie!
    What a blessing to share such a precious day with your grandfather- and what a special bond you shared with him that has continued with your memories- even after he has passed on!
    I had no grandparents, but I loved my dad so exclusively that the memories I have of him are like diamonds. He died when I was sixteen and each memory has made my life richer.
    Thank you for sharing your memories-
    and for the recipe!
    I’m making this for Thanksgiving with fruit from Chili. It isn’t local- but I can’t wait until summer for this one!


      • No, not for another week or so.
        The last Thursday in November. I am so far behind- we have a wedding for my nephew, I’m flying into NYC the first of December and then Christmas back in Virginia- I hope I am up for all the ancillary activities that go with the events!


  6. Happy Returns Brydie! Love bonds last for ever and when our beloved grandfathers & grandmothers become angels they care for us and share with us our earthly joyful moments! My love to you and your family! Thx for sharing with us your tender memories and your recipe! Congrats for your lovely cake! Good morning from our frozen hellenic island of Kos!


  7. Happy birthday CHFG! What an incredible cake! Thanks for sharing the sweet memories of you grandfather 🙂
    I had a similar experience with my mum passing way… she met the LF and had a glimpse of my life-to-be too. It’s a real joy for me knowing she saw a tiny slice of ‘this’ life. Thanks for writing it so succinctly…. as you always do. x


  8. Happy birthday , Brydie. I was so touched by your story about your grandfather….you really brought childhood to life in your descriptions of how you felt at the time. I talk to my children about my grandfather all the time and his memory stays alive in our little bedtime conversations about this special man.
    Thanks for a lovely recipe and leaving me with a sense of who you are because of the lovely presence this man had in your life.


    • Kim those bed time conversations are gold aren’t they. When I was little, I used to love hearing stories from my grandmother’s ‘olden days’, now it’s my turn to pass these on.
      These stories do keep those memories alive, and I love that.


  9. What a lovely tribute to your grandfather, Brydie. It has made me a little envious as I never knew either of mine.
    And I’m sure he would have loved a slice of that tart – as would I.


  10. That was a moving tribute to David and gave me gooseflesh as it brought back lots of lovely memories for me too; the distant cousin whom he sought and found on his exploration of our amazing family tree roots to Sri Lanka. His legacy for me is the connection he gave us and our children which would please him no end. You remind me so much of him with your amazing creativity, writing skills and love of exotic food which you so generously share with us. It is so appropriate that you share a birthday with him, He also loved “lime pickle” a Sri Lankan delicacy that he could never get enough of and yes he would have loved your cake too. He lives on for me too every time I work on our family tree and the wonderful memories of him that I treasure. Thanks for the memories.


  11. Brydie, a truly beautiful tribute to the memory of someone who clearly made you feel so loved, happy and secure. It brought back memories of my own grandmothers and the preciousness of the times we spent together. Happy birthday my friend.


  12. this cake is AMAZING! I think I am going to celebrate my next birthday with this recipe, it contains 3 of the ingredients I love most: berries, mascarpone, meringue. the problem is, I would have to make 2: one for me and one for my my family and friends 🙂


  13. now that is my sort of tart and your grandfather sounds like my sort of grandparent – glad you have such wonderful memories and a shared birthday to remember him by – a belated happy birthday


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