Thank cupcakes it’s Friday.
I can’t by any stretch of the imagination say that I have had a bad week; everyone I know is safe and sound (touch wood), I have money in the bank, food in my fridge, a roof over my head, and a wonderful man to share it all with (actually touch wood for all of that!).
Though I am very much aware of all of my blessings, I have spent the whole week clock-watching at work, and then spending my time at home in front of the TV eating mounds of comfort food.
I am really hoping a dinner party tonight with (hopefully) tasty food and good friends will lift my spirits in time for the weekend. Quite unusually (but semi-intentionally), I have no social obligations planned for the next two days.
After seeing the upsetting images of the ‘Hainey Murder Flat’ in the news, I have the uncontrollable urge to clean like a manic person. Not the usual “tidy projects away and whip the vac around” type of clean, but a thorough “empty book shelves to dust, scrub the skirting boards clean, defrost the freezer” cleaning spree. So if you need me this weekend I will probably be half way into my oven removing any last traces of previous baking attempts.
The promise of Domino’s pizza, beer and Thursday night E4 TV failed to cheer me up this week (which is quite a mean feat). The one thing that did, however, was these little cupcakes. There is something so pleasing about the juxtaposition of bright yellow curd and blue paper cases, and the soft, sweet taste of the meringue against the tart of the lemon.
With the added bonus of being able to use my Kitchen Aid which did most of the work for me, in less than an hour I had created a dozen little drops of instant gratification. Whilst stressing around my kitchen, trying to break storm above my head, the Julia Powell quote came to mind:
‘I love that after a day when nothing is sure – and when I say “nothing” I mean nothing – you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.’
Julie and Julia (2009)
She is completely right. Even on the worst day, being able to rely on the physics of cooking is such a unconscious pleasure. Knowing that, no matter what has happened at work, or the silly arguments that I have had with my boyfriend, that I can come home and cheese will bubble and brown on bread under the grill or that a sprinkling of thyme in an omelet batter will add a meaty depth of flavour, can be as comforting as a hug.
Honestly, I really sympathise with people who can’t cook. I can’t imagine a life without an appreciation for food, or the inability to make it.
(makes 8 )
65g caster sugar
65g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
see this post
1 egg white
50g caster sugar
Preheat over to 180 degrees C
Beat sponge ingredients together until light and fluffy, then divide between 8 cases. Usually this recipe is for 6 cupcakes, but as you need room in the top of the case for curd you can spread it a little further.
Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown on top, and a skewer comes out clean.
Wipe you mixing bowl with lemon juice or vinegar to remove any traces of grease.
Place the egg white and sugar in the bowl and heat over a pan of water, whisking gently until it reaches 60 degrees C and all the sugar has dissolved.
Take off the heat and whisk until firm.
When everything has cooled spread a layer of curd over the cupcake and top with a dollop of meringue.