So it turns out I haven’t written a blog post since October. How the hell did that happen? Bad Charlotte. Every January I vow to, once again, up my blogging game. Along with saving more, eating only raw vegetables and giving alcohol, obvs. Clearly I've failed at all three again this year but I have a fairly good excuse.Read More
As a born-and-bred New Zealander, I naturally feel a sense of ownership and fondness towards the Pavlova. Equally, as someone who has adopted the UK as their home for the last 7 years, I love a good Eton mess. My experiences with baking meringue, both in it's huge pavlova form and mini-mounds of crunchy goodness, have always been somewhat hit-and-miss. My mother is the queen of Pav baking. My sister creates decadent mounds piled high on a cake stand with whipped cream and fruit that looks like it's leapt straight off one of the pages of an Ottolenghi cookbook. My attempts? Either magnificent or pathetic. Either, 'Oh look it's perfect!' or (more likely), 'Oh crap, it's a disaster'. This week for a last supper with a friend, who is all visa-approved off to New York after 20 years in London, I decided to give meringue making another crack and try and work out if there is a tried-and-true method. My friend's also originally from NZ, so in a nod to both his childhood and his adult years in London, something somewhere between Eton Mess and Pavlova seemed appropriate. Inspired by Leigh's post on Rosewater and Pistachio meringues, I considered giving my old-favourite Ottolenghi's recipe a go. But I found myself turning towards the very gorgeous Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose (yet another expat New Zealander). A gift from my sister, it's become my go-to baking cookbook these days. I've tried out several recipes and they've all been a success. I'm a huge fan of using maple syrup, raw sugar, spelt flour and unusual ingredients, and this book is full of nourishing recipes using interesting and natural ingredients. (Her lovely instagram is worth a follow too for daily prettiness and inspiration.) Maple syrup meringues (adapted from Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose) Serves 6 to 8, depending on size. Or three people who REALLY love meringue. 2 teaspoons cornflour 2 teaspoons cider vinegar 6 large free-range eggs whites (I used medium sized eggs as that was all I could get nearby) Pinch of salt 200g unrefined golden caster sugar (I used raw granulated sugar) 2 tablespoons of maple syrup 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I'd run out but didn't worry about it) 1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Or thereabouts if you're temperatures have worn off the oven like mine. Line baking sheets with baking paper. I only needed one baking sheet but you might need two depending on how big you'd like your meringues. 2. Save your yolks for breakfast/dinner tomorrow. Mix the cornflour and vinegar well in a little bowl until well combined and lump free. 3. I used my kitchen aid mixer for this step which is a blessing when it comes to making meringues. I have made them successfully with a hand mixer too. Whisk the eggs whites with the salt until stiff peaks form. 4. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, alternating with really small amounts of the vinegar mix. 5. Keep going until it's all combined. The meringue should be really thick and glossy. At this stage it looked just how I remembered my mum's best pavlova mixtures. 6. Add the fold syrup, folding through with a metal spoon. Pile high in mounds on the baking tray. You should get about 6-8. 7. Put in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 100 degrees C. Bake for about 1.5 to 2 hours, then turn the oven off and let the meringues cool in the oven. TA-DA! Amber Rose' recipe then goes on to make caramelised pears to serve atop the meringues. I'm not a fan of pears (does anyone else think they are gritty?) so topped mine with fresh strawberries, raspberries, chopped roasted hazelnuts and whipped cream. DELISH. Chewy, a little crunchy and a bit fluffy. Sadly, we'd a had a few too many wines by the time I dished them up so there are no photos. The secret to making the perfect meringue? I think it's down to a little patience, a lot of whipping and very fresh free-range eggs. The right temperature oven (mine is always a guesstimate as the temps have been cleaned off!) plays a big part, and the time to leave them to cool in the oven. It's a good idea to make them the night before and turn off the oven before you go to bed. If you take them out before they've cooled, you run the risk of collapsing and cracking meringues. And I think the maple syrup really gives extra chewiness and flavour. Have you ever tried making meringues or pavlova? What's your secret? x C
Like many others who choose to move to London, I now have two homes. One here in the heart of housing price-boom Hackney. I love everything about it despite the annoyingly 'cool' factor it has. Strolling to the markets, the cheery chaps in Costcutter, the little new gourmet food store on my street (Pinch), the London Field's Lido, my neighbours and more. Well, everything apart from the rent, the too-cool-for-school kids who have overcrowded my local, and the lack of property-owning. Then there's home-home. More than 11,000 miles away from London, back in the sunshine with my friends and family, green and lush, where I grew up, more than 24 hours on a plane, listening to Bob Dylan in the kitchen, hello the-worst-kind-of-jetlag home. New Zealand. Home where the other half of my heart is. We went home home in February/March... Photos by Luke
trying to tame my wild herb garden...
buying spring blooms...
eating Hawke's Bay peaches off the tree...
drinking really good coffee in Wellington...
visiting home sweet home...
having NZ beach days...
drinking wine with old friends...
going on trips...
having beach picnics with one beardy bloke...
having last suppers...
chilling on the purple velvet sofa...
and drinking more coffee.
I've been going back to my roots lately. I learned to bake using a mixture of my mother and grandmother's recipes, and recipes from New Zealand's iconic Edmonds cookery book. This walnut and coffee cake is without a doubt one of my favourites from the flour company's book (with the motto 'Sure to rise'). Within months of first moving to London I was on the phone to home asking for a copy of the book to be posted to me. I still go back to it when my shelves of other cook books fail to inspire me, or if I'm feeling a bit homesick. I tweak this cake recipe a bit, espresso rather instant coffee, and use a little rapeseed or sunflower oil instead of butter and throw walnuts into the mixture. It's the perfect cake to bake on a Sunday. Coffee and walnut cake (adapted from Edmonds cookery book)
- 2 tablespoons strong espresso
- 1/3 cup of oil (sunflower or rapeseed) or soya spread
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- scrape of fresh vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 3 eggs separated
- 1 cup plain flour
- 3 tablespoons cornflour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons milk or soy/rice milk
- Coffee icing (icing sugar, butter or alternative, espresso)
1. Make your espresso and set aside to cool.
2. Cream oil or butter substitute, sugar, coffee mixture and vanilla.
3. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
5. Sift flour, cornflour and baking powder together.
6. Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with the egg whites.
7. Stir in milk and walnuts.
8. Pour cake mixture into two greased and lined 20 cm sponge sandwich tins.
9. Bake at 190°C for 20-25 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
10. Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
11. Fill and ice with coffee icing. Decorate with walnut pieces if desired.
P.S. Where I find cake inspiration
Hello! Long time no see. I don't know where to start. The Mr and I have visited my home (New Zealand), his home (Wales), eaten copious amounts of cake, drunk wine in old mining towns at the bottom of the world, gotten sunburnt in L.A., narrowly avoided earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan, and so much more. We've been to so many great places - antique fairs, crazily gorgeous beaches and markets that I want to share them all. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting a few short pieces and pics of the sights we've seen. I'll try not to bore you. Bear with me. x
Photo by Luke.