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The Meringue Revelations

Photo Delphine Mignon

 

How do you connect a very simple meringue recipe, a fundraising event and the cause for homemade?

A few weeks ago, the office held a fundraiser for White Ribbon Day. A worthy cause, not one I can personally relate to, but Rosie Batty’s story touched me, and I find her courage to stand up again after losing her son in such tragic circumstances very humbling. I used a simple meringue recipe to honour this cause and here’s what came out of it:

White Ribbon Day Fundraiser

The fundraiser was a modest affair: the office was putting on cakes and drinks, and encouraged donations. For a $5 entry fee, you could come in and pick up a small plate of cupcakes or nutella pancakes… Easy.

In the email invitation, there was also a gentle call to anyone “who might want to contribute something”… Cake? Contribution? I’m there, I am so there!

And so I got baking… I like baking, you see… It also produces things people love to eat, it must be the sugar, right? I find it easy… Well, not always, I do fail my baking occasionally… I am only human!

I chose to make three different things, because I couldn’t select one thing over the others. And if given the opportunity to produce a large quantity, I am not going to go lightly…

My selection was choc-chip cookies, amaretti biscuits and meringue. I had all the ingredients required in the pantry so it was an easy decision. After a couple of nights of baking, I packed my boxes and headed to the office. I think I was the only one who “contributed”, which is fine. But, as I unpacked my goods and laid them onto trays, someone exclaimed: “Oooohhh… Meringue, this is soooooo hard to make!”

Before I could deliver my usual line: “Well, I have a very good oven…”, a girl said: “Oh, she’s French!” This was delivered in a dry, no-need-to-look-any-further kind of tone. Ah, yeah, sorry, I forgot…

“Meringue. Is. Difficult. To. Make. IS IT REALLY?”

Later in the day, I came back to contribute my $5 and pick up a few biscuits. The meringue was still a hot topic:

Someone said: “I think my tongue had an orgasm..” I had to look the other way…

Than someone asked me whether I had made it in the Thermomix

Now, I heard of these things, that they’re magical and very expensive. I am not quite sure what they do but someone once told me: “Everything”.

I’ve never used one and I am not sure what to think of them after this incident last week. But back to my story…

“Is Meringue difficult to make?” Short answer: no

Here is a very simple recipe: Separate the eggs, set the yolks aside, make ice cream with them, add a pinch of salt to the eggs, beat them (I use a $20 electric beater I bought over 10 years ago), add the caster sugar gently, continue beating, add a teaspoon of cornflour, a teaspoon of white vinegar. You’re meant to “fold” the last two, but I don’t really bother. Then add flavouring. Vanilla is a classic but I’ve got one better: orange blossom water. It’s flowery taste goes really well in a light, airy meringue. I suspect that was the one thing that impressed my colleagues so much.

Now, you could spoon the meringue onto a tray for baking but it’s worth using a piping bag.

Place the tray in the hot oven, and when the time is up, turn off the oven and leave the meringues to cool inside.

I am not on about the meringue and how to make it. But the revelation in this little story is: we are told by marketers that we need expensive tools to be successful cooks. Don’t get me wrong, I lust after KitchenAid like any other girl. I am still waiting for my loyal Moulinex food processor to die. It’s been 15 years now and it’s not showing any signs of wanting to retire…

I don’t quite agree with this… Nothing old-fashioned but I am still committed to some very simple principles enacted by my elders: homemade cooking is easy and delicious, and you don’t need expensive toys or ingredients to achieve it. Personally, I am very grateful I grew up in a family where cooking was a given, where everything was worth trying once. My mother, my aunts and grandmothers taught me to cook with fresh ingredients and give it love.

And I am grateful for the lovely comments on my meringue that day.

Have you had success with easy recipes? Please share in the comments below.

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2 Comments

  1. Helen K

    September 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    My husband is a master with meringues (and most cooking, actually) – he just uses an old beater my grandmother didn’t need when she moved into aged care. I agree – it’s often not the tools but the approach (and little things like turning offstage oven and keeping them in am until the oven is completely cool).

    1. Delphine

      September 6, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      Hi Helen, thank you for your comment. I do leave the meringues in the oven to cool, otherwise they just flop!

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