It is customary in our family to eat cake at birthdays. My mother used to be responsible for birthdays and cake days and the whole family gathered together religiously in the days when my father was still alive and my mother still baked for us. Today is the birthday of my only daughter and I share my love letter to her with you all.
Lisa, it’s your birthday today, a day that usually leaves me filled with awe and an immense sense of pride in the strong and exceptionally beautiful woman you have become. How is it possible that someone so young can know so much, be so wise and have achieved so much? There is no other woman that I hold in such high esteem, that I respect as much, that I value as much and that I could ever love as much.
Have a wonderful day in the country of my heart and where it is only fitting that you should spend your day. I wish I could give you your birthday tea today, but know that you are in good hands. Know that I love you and I miss you more than words can say.
LEMON MERINGUE PIE
This is to remind you of home and days gone by and to remind someone to add one to your tea table this afternoon!
250 g sweetened evaporated milk
65 ml castor sugar
3 medium sized lemons
Baked pie crust
Pre heat oven to 180 C
Remove zest and juice of the lemons
Separate the eggs.
Whisk egg yolks, lemon zest and lemon juice until the mixture becomes thick and creamy and add to whisked evaporated milk.
Pour into a baked pastry shell of your choice (short crust or biscuit).
Using a clean bowl whisk together the egg whites and castor sugar until the mixture forms stiff peaks – take care not to whisk too much because the meringue mixture may be too dry.
Spoon the meringue mixture on to the lemon filling without smoothing the top.
Remove and allow to cool.
There is only one thing to drink with this and that is a good strong cup of tea!
DOUBLE MOCCA CHOCOLATE TORTE
225 g really dark Lindt chocolate, chopped
50 g unsalted butter, chopped
2 tablespoons best quality instant coffee powder
50 raisins, soaked in a little cognac or brandy
50 g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
50 g pistachios, roughly chopped
150 ml cream, lightly whipped
150 g sponge finger biscuits (boudoir or savoiardi), chopped
Unsweetened cocoa powder to dust
Line a 26 cm spring form cake tin with cling wrap, pack firmly and make sure that you leave a large piece hanging over the sides.
Put the chocolate and the butter over a fireproof bowl and simmer in a saucepan to melt, whisking constantly until smooth.
Add the instant coffee and whisk until everything is dissolved at which point you add the raisins, hazelnuts, pistachios and the Kahlua, combine well and allow to cool down to room temperature.
Fold in the whipped cream and the chopped finger biscuits and spoon this mixture into the prepared cake tin, making sure that everything is level.
Cover with the cling wrap and put in the fridge overnight.
Remove from the fridge, turn out onto a suitable plate, dust with the cocoa and slice to serve with coffee or as desert.
It’s very very rich so cut into small slices!
To serve, only the Krug Clos du Mesnil 1979 …. Of wat sê jy?
I remember you sitting at birthday tea tables at a very young age, face covered in sugared cream, hands hovering expectantly around the big glass dish piled high with meringues abundantly filled with whipped cream so that you could grab the next one before anyone else did. You outgrew that but not the love of the meringues … or did you?
MERINGUES AND CREAM
6 egg whites, at room temperature
350g caster sugar
300ml sweet cream, to be whisked into firm peak stage
100 g unsalted, roasted pistachio nuts, crushed
2 lemons, zest only
Preheat the oven to 150C
Place the egg whites into a large clean bowl, add 110g sugar
Whisk together into soft peaks
Continuing to whisk, gradually add another 110g sugar, a spoonful at a time, until the mixture forms stiff peaks and fold in the remaining sugar taking care not to whisk too much
Form 20 large spoonfuls of the meringue onto 2 baking sheets lined with non-stick baking paper and bake in the oven for 15 minutes
Lower the oven temperature to 110C and dry for a further 3 or more hours until very crisp and dry
Leave to cool, then store in an air tight tin. 8
Whisk cream as per instructions above and fold zest and nuts into the cream.
Sandwhich together two meringues at a time and pile high onto a cake stand.
Delicious with good Brazilian filter coffee to end off an afternoon of cake eating!