Sunday, 13 June 2010
Lemon cake, champagne cocktails and Jane Austen
I had an impromptu girls' night in yesterday evening -- an alternative to the World Cup, although a few of us watched the first English goal, before conversation kicked in. I baked a lemon cake -- my favourite recipe (weigh four eggs, cream together the same quantities of butter and sugar, add the eggs, fold in the same amount of self-raising flour, then the juice of three lemons, a dash of milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. After baking, pour over a mixture of lemon juice and granulated sugar, which makes a tangy, crunchy topping. Serve with creme fraiche); meringues filled with whipped cream and raspberries; and the easiest lemon tart (the recipe that my mother taught me to make when I was a child: a packet of crushed digestive biscuits -- sometimes I use Hobnobs or ginger snaps instead -- mixed with a little melted butter as a base; with a lemony filling that magically sets without any further ado; you just mix a tin of condensed milk with a tub of double cream and the juice of four lemons). As you can tell, I love lemony puddings...
We drank champagne cocktails -- simply add a dash of cointreau to the fizz -- and talked and laughed immoderately, in between admiring the White's Fine Edition of Emma that my friend Kaye bought me for my birthday (which isn't til next week). Its cover is designed by Amy Gibson, a graduate in fashion from Central St Martin's, now working for Topshop.
Today, I am feeling slightly fragile -- I blame the cointreau, though wouldn't have missed out on it last night -- and eating left-over cake and meringues. Have also been browsing through the wonderfully comprehensive new website, created by Professor Kathryn Sutherland (the ultimate Jane Austen expert), which reunites Austen's fiction manuscripts for the first time since 1845, when her sister Cassandra died and the manuscripts were dispersed.
Blasphemy, I know, to talk of these manuscripts in the same breath as lemon cake; but somehow or other, the blend has worked wonders for me this weekend.
Please do try this at home...