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:
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.