Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lemon Meringue Cake - Recipie

As promised the Lemon Meringue Cake from Nigella's Feast.

125g very soft unsalted butter
4 eggs, separated
300g plus 1 teaspoon caster sugar
100g plain flour
25g cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
zest of 1 lemon
4 teaspoons lemon Juice
2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
150 ml double or whipping cream
150g good quality lemon curd.

Preheat the oven to 200'c or 180 fan forced. Line & butter two 21 cm sandwich tins.
Mix the egg yolks, 100g of the sugar, the butter, flour, cornflour, baking powder, bicarb, and lemon zest in a processor. Add the lemon juice and milk and process again.
Divide the mixture between the prepared tins. You will think you don't even have enough to cover the bottom of the tins, but don't panic. Spread calmly with a rubber spatula until smooth.
Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form and then slowly whisk in 200g of sugar. Divide the whisked whites between the two sponge-filled tins. Spread one flat with a spatula and make peaks in the other. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over the peaks. Put tins in the over for 20-25 minutes.
With a cake tester, pierce the cake that has the flat meringue, no sponge should be on the tester. (Meringue will fall back once you take it from the oven). Remove both tins and leave cake to cool completely in them on a wire rack.
Unmould the flat-topped one onto a cake stand or plate, meringue side down. Whip cream until thick. Spread sponge side with lemon curd then cream. Top with second cake,the peaked meringue uppermost.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

" though perfectly convinced of the fact, it is yet almost incredible to myself"

I have had a reasonably good week with research and reading for my chapter. I feel I am starting to understand the Captain whom I am writing on, and have a sense of his family and the world around him. I read some great material, which to me is perfect, completely summing up what I have been thinking and trying to articulate. In one letter to his wife lamenting his time away from home and his desire to do something honourable so he can discharge his duty and return to his wife he writes; "But do not be alarmed, my dearest L___; ambition will not overcome my love". This tiny phrase almost had me jumping up and down. It is what I have been trying to articulate to my supervisor and myself for months, and here it is, written and waiting. I know I have to take this with a grain of salt, and that he was writing in a style to comfort his wife, but it is perfect all the same! So good in fact, I am worried it is too good to be true.

I realise that I am slowly turning into a kooky historian who gets overly excited about the smallest things. I am currently building up my supply of quirky earrings and clothes so that when the transformation is complete, I will be ready. I do apologise for my rambling.

To make up for it, I made a cake. Although FatCouriers services have been employed, their record for delivery stands against them. I made a Lemon Meringue Cake today, lemon curd and all. I almost lost the top when I was carrying it to the table as I hadn't pushed it down enough and the curd was a bit slippery. Disaster was thankfully averted.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"He was struck with the notion of doing a very gallant thing"

I have decided for my next chapter to write on the naval captain that I mentioned last time. I am currently reading a biography of him written in 1866. It is very interesting as it has many Victorian trappings, and the style of language, 'dear readers', is so different from modern biographies and histories.

It is also very exciting! I have spent most of today nervously reading about the famous battle that this captain was involved in, taking an American ship with great speed, bravery and despite the obviously violent nature of war, compassion. This compassion, however, didn't do him any favours, as he was severely wounded, so that his 'brain was showing', by the very men that he was trying to save, though they were the enemy. After providing his men with a rousing speech which ended "I feel sure you will all do your duty; and remember you have now the blood of hundreds of your country men to avenge!" lead the boarding party onto the enemy ship calling to his men "Follow me who can!". It is fascinating learning more about this man and his naval endeavours, particularly compared to the modest picture he paints of himself in his letters to his wife. It also moved me to read, that when he was wounded and his officers brought him back onto his own ship and undressed him, they found a blue pouch around his neck which contained a lock of his wife's hair, which they saved, cleaned and returned to him.

I still have a lot to do, but am starting to feel excited again about things, which in something so long and potentially drawn out, can only be a good thing.


Friday, May 2, 2008

"she seldom went away without leaving them more dispirited than she found them"

I now thankfully have handed in all that I had outstanding, which is a fantastic feeling, though short lived. My supervisor was away all of last year on maternity leave, so I had really enjoyed being able to see her regularly this year. However, now she is off on sabbatical to the UK in 6 weeks, which means I have to have another chapter ready in 3 weeks time so that she can see it before she leaves! The pressure is on, and while it is more interesting and on some of the archival research I did when I was in the UK last year, it is still going to be a challenge!

I am tossing up what to write on, I have the diary of a woman who accompanied her husband, a colonel in the British Army, to Ireland between 1802 and 1809. Or the correspondence of a Naval Captain, writing to his wife between 1809 to 1813 whilst on active service. Both are quite interesting, the former will allow me to look at social networks, British and Irish relations and family life as impacted on by the army. The latter will be about the absent husband and the family left at home, as well as imagined places as the husband creates an almost pastoral ideal of his family in England, influenced by his strong desire to return home to them.

Despite my need to work on this, the allure of social outings won over the allure of history this weekend. I saw two excellent French Films, Paris and Molière, both of which were among the best films I have seen in a long time. I love foreign films, I can't remember an occasion where I have left the cinema and have not enjoyed it. I will have to make an effort to go a bit more often. I also went out to Thai for dinner, hosted a BBQ and went to Yum Cha! I also had a tremendous amount of road rage, as every stupid driver in Sydney was on the road all weekend! They tend to come out more when I am running hideously late, which is 70% of the time. I also, in a distracted and late state, almost got run over earlier in the week, as I forgot to check for cars coming around the corner as I crossed the road.

I did manage to get some baking in too, making another Chocolate Guinness cake, but also Spanish Macaroons, which are gorgeous with almond meal, Orange and cinnamon, fragrant and delicious. Which reminds me that I want to go and see some films in the Spanish Film Festival which is about to start at Palace Cinemas.