The Lemon Meringue Cake Crisis

 

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A lemon meringue cake, that was the brief. Decorate it however you want mama…

No problem what so ever kiddo, of course I can do that. With three obvious components to the recipe, this should be an easy one, and not something to be worried about at all right?

Right??

Cake, done and dusted. I made that the day before. Curd? Yep, being the efficient person I can be, I made that one two days before. On the celebratory day, it’s just a simple Italian meringue and assemble the thing. Easy peasy.

I was using a new candy thermometre, which I thought was particularly adult of me, instead of the usual guess work that I normally do to get to hardball stage. The thermometre didn’t seem to work out so well though.  I burnt the sugar syrup before it had even gotten close to the magic temperature it needed to get to. Which as I’m sure you can image, burnt sugar is a pure joy to clean off.

Start again, new eggs, new sugar, clean pan. I didn’t move a muscle, no distractions what so ever. Just my full attention in the pot, and yet it seemed to be heading in the exact same damn direction as the first failed lot. Why oh why? No time to wonder, I had to slap this all together quick sticks and make do with what I had.

And it’s at this point, where a good cake, that had lots of potential just began to look sadder and sadder. Three upturned waffle cones, with piped (slightly burnt tinged, but we can ignore that) italian meringue with pretty cachous and rock sugar sprinkled throughout sounds like a good idea.

Well turns out it looks like a snow-capped earthship. Even the smallest declared I might have put a bit too much ‘icing on’. I kept adding to it, hoping it would get better.

It didn’t.

I added tall beautiful beeswax candles, that did help a little as a distraction technique, and then all we had to do was cut into it.

All was ok again once more, it really did taste great.

Lemon and olive oil cake with lemon curd and italian meringue is a combination that works, that part is definitely tried and true. It’s the decorating bit that needs an overhaul, unless you are wanting a snow capped earthship building cake of course, and then hey, I’ve got you covered.

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Lemon and Olive Oil Cake recipe here.

Three Blue Ducks Lemon Curd recipe

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Top 13 Eco friendly Gift Ideas

Top 13 Eco Friendly Gift Ideas || cityhippyfarmgirl

1. Fermenters Starter Pack- scoby’s, sourdough starters etc. Bundle a bunch of your favourite fermented goodies together and some written ‘how to’ instructions.

2. Get baking. Put together a little hand made hamper. Jam’s, biscuits, brownie, cake, pesto, bread, Iced VoVo Cupcakes– the options are endless. If you team that up with a little second hand basket, (always nicer than a gifted pair of synthetic, made in China, novelty boxer shorts…promise.) A little hamper like this is sure to win over your loved ones.

3. A succulent in a vintage teacup I still say is a visual winner. Get creative.

4. Assistent Original– now this is a pricey gift for Christmas, but if you are serious about a kitchen investment that is going to cater for every kitchen whim you have- it’s a worthy investment, as cooking from scratch is a commitment and you want to make it as easy as possible. (For bread baking nerds, look no further… 5 kilos of dough she can handle.)

5. Sign a loved one up for a Milkwood Permaculture course, (or a locally grown Permaculture course in your area.) They will be brimming with inspiration afterwards, and that…is always a good thing.

6. Subscription to your locally based farmer friendly organic fruit and vegetable box.

Bliss honey- south coast NSW || cityhippyfarmgirl

7. A big jar of local honey. Honey can be used as a face wash and natural exfoliant, stirred into your morning chai, or drizzled over toast. Make a list for the recipient of all the things they can do with their sticky prized jar. It really is a sweet idea!

8. Still sweet talking. What about the ultimate gift of a hive of native bees. Your recipient will be beeeside themselves with happiness.

how-to-make-gift-labels || cityhippyfarmgirl

9. Have a peek over at Ecolosophy. They have some wonderful eco friendly, handmade and fairtrade goodies, perfect for all ages.

anzac-biscuits || cityhippyfarmgirl

10. Or you could try… a simple plate, dish or second hand tin from your local op-shop/thrift shop/charity shop. Beautiful one off antique ones can bought for usually just a couple of dollars. Fill the plate with your favourite biscuits and the recipe printed out on the back of the card.

11. Digital Subscription to an inspiring magazine- someone will be jumping up and down with excitement. (Earth Garden Magazine, Great Ocean Quarterly, PiP Magazine, Green Magazine, Slow, Dumbo Feather– they are all wonderful!)

french-breakfast-tea-cityhippyfarmgirl

12. For the tea drinker- love chai, love tea and little ginger bread bites for dunking in. A simple present that is 673 times better than buying something bland in a generic department store.

enamelware || cityhippyfarmgirl

13. For the baker, drinker, eater…errr anything really- enamelware. You can’t go wrong, really you can’t.

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What are some of your eco friendly gift ideas?

 

Lemon Berry Meringue (the party in a pie)

berry lemon meringue pie || cityhippyfarmgirl

Let’s cut to the chase with this.

Lemon Meringue Pie is the best dessert in the world.

The end.

Well, perhaps just a touch more. It has to be lemony, and tarty (and just quietly, a generous serving.)

I’ve been slowly building on my lemon meringue pies over the years and have accepted the fact that come birthday time, it’s a little meringue something that is to be made for the celebratory affair.

As the day in question was going to be a day that fell in the middle of the week with rather a lot of ‘normal’ things going on around it, I took it upon myself to create my own party in a pie shell.

As I’ve said before, I love, making my own birthday cake (or pie) as it happens. It means I get to make whatever I want and however I want. That is indeed a wonderful thing when I usually make things to cater for other people’s taste buds all year long.

This year there was no tweaking of last years recipe except for creating more “bling” up top in the form of flowers and berries. Sometimes it can just be ridiculously fun to, well, play with your food. (Even when your Italian Meringue doesn’t behave as it should and becomes the smooth oozy type. Yep, you just roll with it… keep playing.)

italian meringue || cityhippyfarmgirl

berry lemon meringue pie || cityhippyfarmgirl

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Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe can be found here.

little soft sweet white peaks of cloud

lemon meringue

lemon meringue

My grandmother once told me she used to make a sponge cake each year for her own birthday cake when her kids were young. That’s what they all loved to eat, so that’s what she would make, she said over a pot of tea one day. Kind and generous yes, and certainly in keeping with a birthday spirit. But… my 83 year old grandmother doesn’t like sponge cake. She never has.

It was probably never going to be a problem that I would have. Committed to my kids taste buds, of course. I frequently catered to their often under ripe taste buds. But committed enough to make them (me) a sponge cake? Oh hell no, (I don’t like them either.)

Several people offered to make me a birthday cake this year. I said that was so very kind, and then politely declined though. You see, I love making my own cake (or tart as the case may be.) It’s the one time of the year, I can make something exactly to my own taste buds. No chocolate, no lollies, no cream… no sponge cake.

For this years birthday I had lemon meringue pie on my mind, and I’d been planning it ever since the last time I had made it, (with added blueberries for good measure.)

“…but it’s not a proper birthday if there isn’t cake,” declared an unsure little voice.

 “Piffle,” I said confidently, “How exciting will the little soft sweet white peaks of cloud like meringue look in amongst a few candles.” Birthday’s can be anything you want it to be, that’s the wonderful thing about birthdays.” 

I kept that close in mind when I decided I would like wholemeal spelt pancakes, blueberries, mangoes, crackers and cheese for dinner as well…anything I want it to be, right?

lemon meringue

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And as my still fairly recent tradition of making something meringue-y for my birthday continues, so does my recipe list.

Lemon Meringue Pie 2013

Blue Cherry Meringue Tart 2012

Berry Meringue Tart 2011

A Rather Tall Birthday Cake 2010

when four turns into five

robot birthday cake- cityhippyfarmgirl five- cityhippyfarmgirl  It’s the way the little fella likes to plans things you see. The day after his birthday, he starts planning for his next birthday. 364 days of planning and not faltering once from the theme. Robots he wanted this year…and robots it was.

A robot cake, which he excitedly decorated himself. Just leave me the middle, I whispered, not telling him why. The robot and and mini bunting I snuck on last minute. He got the joy of decorating his cake and I got the joy of still surprising him.

Robot party bags to be coloured in by the kids coming over. Pin the glasses on the robot and robot dance moves were a given. I didn’t want excessive waste, plastic or money spent and he wanted to just have fun with his friends. I think just maybe, we might have got the balance right.

robot party ideas- cityhippyfarmgirl

A few simple party ideas

– happy bee garden mix flower seeds (in the party bag.)

– recipe for bubble mixture passed on (in the party bag.)

– bunting decorations I had made. (With three kids, birthday celebrations of some sort are a given each year. Easy, instant, and a green option for decorating.)

– reusable plastic glasses with the child’s name on it, (not plastic one use throw aways.)

– kids get to decorate their own cupcakes.

– invites were retro ones found at Stash and Treasure for 20c a packet of 6.

Food

olive oil bread bites

– gingerbread five’s

– popcorn

– fruit

– chocolate vanilla layer biscuits

– cupcakes

robot cake- cityhippyfarmgirl

one

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one

not six months, ten months, 11 months…but one. You are now one whole year old.

One year ago I was given the honour and priviledge of giving birth to you, my daughter.  Peacefully, at home, in water. This quiet undisturbed birth opened my eyes to what birth really can be.

Thinking this week on how you made your entrance to this world, I still feel humbled, amazed and oh, so much love… Surely a heart should burst with that amount of love?

Thinking of the way you swam into both mine and your father’s waiting hands, the yellow afternoon sun warming the apartment walls. The doorbell buzzing just five seconds after first sitting back in the pool and holding you to my chest.

I’m forever indebted to our amazing midwife who gave me the courage and trust to know what to do and how to calmly do it.

Thank you sweet girl for choosing us. For letting us experience birth the way that we did. For sharing with us the sheer joy you have for water. The giggles, the dimples, the splash of your mermaid tail, bring us all happiness that really is contagious.

Happy Birthday sweet girl.

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this boy

this boy…

with the soft warm little hands

that still want to hold mine

this boy…

who runs with his big brother,

and sometimes needs help with his shoes

this boy….

who loves to eat apples

and listen to stories of old red trains and happy french lions

this boy….

who still likes to wear a cape

and yellow work goggles up the street

this boy…

who’s big brown eyes and long camel like lashes

that make you melt with the love that it sparks

this boy…

who will never be three again,

and instead will now be four

number 5 chocolate cake

Me and the word perfection is not usually a word that goes hand in hand.

I don’t usually strive for it, happy enough just to sit with the word content. So why was I trying to perfect a chocolate cake? To be honest I don’t really know. I started the challenge and apparently I would be unrelenting until I perfected the bugger.

Everyone needs a chocolate cake recipe up their sleeves. A go to recipe that was tried and true. Unfailing in its taste and you know it will turn out each time. I didn’t have that recipe. Sure I had made countless chocolate cakes in the past, but none of them were quite what I was after. Not too chocolatey, not too rich, not too dry, not too fancy pancy and not a pain to put together.

Shouldn’t be too hard right?

There are probably a few chocolate cake recipes on the internet, Mr Chocolate helpfully suggested.

Yes. Yes there probably is… but they aren’t the righhhht ones.

So I set forth. The chocolate cake challenge was on.

Cake one, no. Cake two…no. Cake three….still no. Cake four, it’s getting closer. Cake five?

Cake five might just have it. Not being particularly enamored of chocolate cake I did wonder why I was putting myself through this. These unhelpful thoughts were pushed to the side however. I’d come this far, surely that chocolate cake was just around the corner?

Chocolate Cake

150g softened butter

150g brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

4 beaten eggs

150g sourdough starter/ sour cream*

150g melted chocolate (50%)

60mls espresso coffee (1/4 cup)

225g s/r flour (1 1/2 cups)

cocoa powder (1/3 cup)

2 tbls amaretto

In a mixer, cream butter and sugar until changes colour to a white shade, then add vanilla, eggs, cocoa, melted chocolate, amaretto and sourdough starter/sour cream. Fold through flour.

Bake at 180C for approximately 45 minutes in a greased springform pan or greased and lined square pan (approx 21cm). Or until skewer comes out clean.

Icing

1 tbls softened butter

1 1/2-ish  cups icing sugar

5og melted chocolate

* if you don’t have a sourdough starter, substitute sour cream.

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So does Number 5 cake cut it? It’s certainly not a bad cake. The flavours are complex enough to keep me happy with the addition of the amaretto, coffee and the starter. It’s moist. It’s chocolatey, without being intense and it was easy to put together.

So will chocolate cake and I ever become firm friends?

It’s quite doubtful. but I’ll make it to keep the rest of the family happy, and they are certainly happy enough with Number 5 Chocolate Cake.