Friday, 5 October 2012

Not Exactly Pieday

We made lemon meringue fairy cakes.
Now you may argue that these are not valid candidates for Pieday as they are not, in point of fact, pies.
You would, of course, be entirely wrong.
They are definitely pies, for their spiritual ancestor is none other than the lemon meringue pie.
They are therefore pies by descent, pies in spirit, and just as a drunk New Yorker on St Patrick's day is far more Irish than the most gaelic man ever to draw breath in Belfast, so these are far more truly pies than any mere filled party case could ever pretend to be.
Well, that's my story anyway.

Besides, these are amazing cakes.
Eleanor made them to sell, to raise money for rockhopper penguins*, and Richard took them in to work with him, to palm off on his coworkers for "whatever you think they're worth".
He sold nine cakes, he brought home over ten pounds, that's more than a pound a cake.
Even accounting for the obvious power of an endearing three year old raising money to help tiny aquatic butlers, that's pretty impressive.
So clearly these deserve their place in the spotlight, if only because everyone deserves a chance to make, and eat, them.
If you wanted to give some money to the penguins while you were at it I'm sure they'd appreciate that.

Lemon Meringue Fairy Cakes

125g butter
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
Two eggs
The juice and zest of one lemon
A tiny bit of vanilla extract

Lemon Meringue

One egg white
225g caster sugar
Some lemon curd

Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees, unless you think you know better than me, in which case you probably do so go with whatever you'd normally have done.

Beat the butter and sugar together till fluffy

Add the eggs, the lemon zest and the teeny bit of vanilla**
Beat it all again adding the flour a little at a time.

Now add just enough lemon juice to get a soft cake batter.

Share this between fairy cake cases***.
Put into the oven for ten minutes and quickly start making your meringue.****

Beat the egg whites.
When they form stiff peaks begin whisking in the sugar, bit by bit.
At no time should you leave the whisk leaning inside the bowl, particularly if the bowl is made of plastic.
Should you have been so irredeemably stupid as to do such a thing then as Eleanor to get a wet cloth while you separate another egg, then decide who is going to mop up and who should make the meringue.
Once all the sugar is whisked in you should have something white and glossy that will hold its shape when piled up in the bowl.
Stop whisking at this point because even if you didn't have to stop to mop up egg whites your cakes will probably be ready to come out.

Take out the cakes (they shouldn't be quite cooked yet so don't worry if they look pale).
Put a teaspoonful of lemon curd on top of each cake and cover with spoonfuls of meringue so that no yellow is visible then, once all the meringue is gone, put them back into the oven for at least five minutes.

Once the tops are risen, looking a little golden and generally meringue-like take them out and leave to cool, on a wire rack if you have one.

Now sell for an amazing profit or just eat them.
Share with any wandering penguins you encounter, but only if they ask nicely.

*Her original plan was to give the cakes to the penguins, she has since revised this and intends to give them the money.
She hopes they will spend it on something nice.
Perhaps more cakes.

**Seriously, it's more of an offering to the gods of cake than an actual attempt at flavouring.
It does make a difference to the finished cake, but it's hard to say how.

***And they are fairy cakes: they're little, delicate, nibblable things, not the mountainous creations of sponge and icing better known as cupcakes.

****This is what we did.
I've since found recipes for lemon meringue cakes online which suggest that you should add the lemon curd before putting the cakes into the oven.
I've even seen one that instructs you to add the lemon curd and the meringue all at once and just bake the lot for fifteen minutes.
I suggest trying all the methods to see how they work out.
And eating the results.
For Science!

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