Happy birthday Sandy
The wise sages all say you only ever live in the present moment there is no past and no future in reality.
And I think it’s so true, the here and now is what we really all have.
So right here and right now I am celebrating your birthday which is celebrating you and the wonderful human that you are.
And as I celebrate you, I feel, like so many others lucky to be your friend. And as your friend I can’t help but think about the past (which is real in so far as we remember it). As I reflect on the last twenty odd years that I have known you have always been an easy going, gentle, kind soul.
You made your home a second home to my twins who would sleep at your place every weekend and spend half their time in your kitchen eating you out of house and home.
They would come home and tell me what a good person you are and how Boris should be in the Guinness book of records for dad jokes. My twins adore you (and Boris) what’s not to love.
A considerate and loving person you showed the same generosity, kindness and consideration to my twins that you did to your wonderful 4 children.
There are so many things I love about you and could spend writing about how you’re non-judgmental, fun, smart, creative and warm but I chose to focus on your sunny disposition and positivity which are the two attributes I based this cake on however I can’t write about you without mentioning the past couple of years which have been difficult for you beyond measure and in the last few months your already overfull plate got another helping of shitty news.
Through it all a super inner strength and resilience arose, without you losing your sunshine. You have been standing strong and tall, showing who you truly are: a devoted, caring, loving wife. NEVER complaining not even when your health was compromised.
Which is why I chose to make you two birthday cakes: one couldn’t do justice to you. Both are favourites, like you are with so many people.
The top layer is a meringue made of egg white and sugar, sweet light and fluffy, and while the sponge cake is light as well, it’s also strong enough to hold the meringue. made of earthy ingredients, which reflect your down to earth side.
everything is covered in tangy passion fruit curd to remind us life is not always sweet and the black seeds remind us that life is peppered with trials and tribulations but from seeds beautiful fresh things grow.
Which brings me back to the present moment and right here right now I want to wish you a healthy birthday, filled with love and only happy occasions. This moment, today and every day.
Love you lots
4 extra large eggs (59/60g each) at room temperature
1/3 cup of sugar (150g)
1/3 cup plain flour (50g)
1/3 cup self-raising flour (50g)
1/3 cup cornflour (50g)
Pinch of salt
Pre-heat the oven to 180C
Line a 22/23cm round springform baking tin with baking paper.
Sift flours and salt three times into a bowl and set aside.
Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standalone electric mixer (or a handheld mixer) and whisk on high speed until mixture is thick and pale in colour and tripled in volume. (This should take about 13-15min)
The mixture should fall off the whisk in a thick ribbon.
Using a large metal spoon, GENTLY fold in sifted flours in thirds until just combined.
Pour mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25min or until the sponge cake is springy when you touch it and comes away from the sides of the tin or when placing a skewer in the centre of the cake it comes out clean.
Let the cake cool a little in the tin then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Before you start to make the meringue here are some helpful tips that I have accumulated over the years from researching on social media and talking to professionals. They have been very beneficial when making meringues (yes, they are temperamental).
Make sure the bowl, the whisk and utensils are super-duper clean and grease-free and are completely dry. Meringues are sensitive and they won’t whip well if there is dirt or moisture.
Don’t use fresh eggs. Yep, you read right!
Fresh eggs don’t whip as well as older eggs. (I knew there was something good about getting older!) The older eggs whip up higher and fluffier. (It’s the experience and wisdom that comes with time.)
If you want to find out which is the egg best to use for your meringue do the egg test:
Fill a tall glass with tap water. Carefully drop the egg (with shell intact) into the glass. If the egg sinks to the bottom and lays on its side it’s too fresh to use. If it stands up on one end, it’s perfect! If it floats to the top, the egg is too old and needs to go in the bin.
Remove eggs from the refrigerator and separate while they are still cold (they will separate easily when cold). If you get any yolk into the egg white, you will have to forget about it and throw out the egg white and start again (annoying, I know)
Let egg whites reach room temperature so they can whip to the fullest capacity and you will get the fluffiest meringue. sugar Don’t use granulated sugar, use caster sugar, because granulated sugar doesn’t dissolve as well and you will get a grainy consistency. Do not add all the sugar at once, as adding sugar all at once will effect volume and volume is what you want. Add a tablespoon of sugar at a time and count to at least 10 seconds before adding the next one. Don’t count fast. You have to count the old fashioned way: one elephant 2 elephant….. Whoever you are making this cake for better be worth it, because we are only half way! Meringue Ingredients 4 egg whites from extra large eggs (59/60g each) Pinch of salt 1cup sugar (200g) 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 teaspoon white vinegar 1 teaspoon cornflour Method To make the meringue; separate the egg yellow from the white and set the egg yellow aside to use in the passion fruit curd. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standalone electric mixer. Sprinkle salt, and using the whisk attachment beat egg whites on medium speed for 4-6 minutes or until soft peaks form. Turn speed dial to high and add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and count 10-15 seconds before adding the next spoonful of sugar. Whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved and egg whites are thick and glossy and hold their shape well. Add vanilla extract, then the white vinegar, and lucky last, the cornflour. Gently transfer meringue to prepared cake tin. Reduce the heat to 160C and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Passion fruit curd Ingredients 110mls fresh passionfruit pulp, if not available or too expensive (which they often are) use frozen but make sure it’s defrosted completely before using and has reached room temperature. 4-5 tablespoons sugar (I used 4) 50mls freshly squeezed lemon juice (you can use less, we love it tangy) 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (you can use more or less, I used 1 tablespoon) 80g butter chopped 4 egg yolks (the ones left over from the meringue) Method In a medium-size saucepan, whisk together yolks and sugar until mixture is nice and thick and well combined. Add lemon juice and zest, place the saucepan over a low heat and stir, add passion fruit pulp and stir continuously for 15-17 minutes until thickened. (It took me 17 minutes of NONSTOP stirring before it thickened.) Remove from the heat and add butter, stir until melted and fully incorporated. Pour into a sterilised jar, seal and cool down to room temperature and place in the fridge. Cream and passion fruit topping Ingredients 600mls thickened cream 4 tablespoons sifted pure icing sugar (50g) 2 tablespoons sifted icing sugar mixture (25g) 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used 2) 200g frozen passionfruit pulp thawed and at room temperature, divided into 100 g and 2 x 50g Method With a handheld mixer or a standalone mixer, whisk the cream, vanilla extract and sugars until stiff peaks form and place in the fridge until ready to use. Please note: Before you assemble the cake, choose the platter you are going to serve it on. You will assemble the cake on the serving platter and you can’t move it to another platter once it has been assembled. Assembly Divide curd to 4 equal parts. Place sponge cake on serving platter, and using a skewer, gently poke holes through the cake. Make sure holes aren’t too close together, because if they are the cake will be too moist. Spoon 100g of passionfruit pulp, once absorbed by the cake, spread the first ¼ of the curd on top of the sponge cake and use a butter knife to spread it out evenly. Fold (gently) the second ¼ of the passionfruit curd into half of the whipped cream, and using a large metal spoon dollop it on top of the curd. Place meringue on top of cream and this time DO NOT poke holes in the meringue but simply spoon 50g of passion fruit pulp on top of the meringue. Spread the 3rd quarter of the curd on top of the meringue. Fold the last quarter of the curd into the remaining whipped cream and dollop on top of meringue. Drizzle the remaining passionfruit pulp on top, and you are done!!
With love and gratitude