”No, it’s fine, we can just scrape off the black parts, just like when I was a kid and my dad had burnt the toast. You didn’t get a new one, no, you worked with what you got!”
It’s Midsummer this weekend and I have fled the city in favor for my in laws’ beautiful summer house on the east coast of Sweden. As I stand there in the kitchen, watching my boyfriend trying to save my once again failed meringue, I realize two things: 1. how much I love his enthusiasm and supportive attitude and 2. I need to make another meringue.
”What do you think, are two cakes too much for two people?” I had asked him the day before.
”One cake is probably too much for two people.”
”You’re right, it is. I’ll only make one then, let’s be reasonable.”
”But, actually, I really want two cakes, because I feel this pouring down, solid rain is the perfect baking inspiration and I’ve been wanting to bake for a long time now and I really need to practice to be a better baker and what if I want chocolate too?”
”So make two cakes.”
”But will we eat it?”
”You’re right. It’s really unnecessary. Let’s think about the starving children in Africa.”
”But then again, I think I’ll make two cakes anyways. Since it’s raining and all.”
I had decided to keep it simple and make pavlova. After all, it was just us. I had brought ready-made passionfruit curd so all I had to do was make the meringue, but given my history, I knew this could be a challenge. After about half an hour with the electric hand mixer, my boyfriend looked up from the couch with a slightly disturbed look on his face.
”How’s it going over there?”
”Maybe not great. It won’t set. I don’t think you’re supposed to whip it for this long.”
”I think you’re right.”
”It’s late, I’ll just put it in the oven anyways. Maybe it doesn’t matter it’s a little runny.” I let it bake for one and a half hour and then left it in the oven over night, as I had read in one of the recipes.
The morning after, on the actual Midsummer, I jumped out of bed and went out to the kitchen to have a look. It was a sad sight. The meringue was low, grainy and burnt on the bottom. I was disappointed, of course. This is when my guy made his heroic attempt to save it. He was standing over the sink, scraping and scraping. I think he might have feared another half hour listening to the sound of the hand mixer.
”You see, it’s coming off!! It’s not so bad!” He put a piece in his mouth. ”Oh. It’s a little bitter, actually.”
”That’s it. Put the knife down. I’ll make a new one. We can’t have burnt meringue on Midsummer.”
I carefully consulted my friend Google to see what I had done wrong the last attempt, then I switched to a tin bowl, lowered the temperature of the oven and switched whisks on the mixer. This seemed to do the trick, because this time, it got firm and glossy in just ten minutes.
”Look at me, look at me!” I exclaimed and turned the bowl upside down over my head (with my eyes closed and a hand placed above it, just in case). I gave it another go in the oven and made sure to take it out in time. The rest was a piece of cake, just decorating with the curd, whipped cream and strawberries. I was beaming with happiness as I photographed it from every angle in front of the big panoramic window.
The other one was a gluten free chocolate cake. I had chosen the recipe because it demanded less ingredients than an ordinary cake, and as I mixed them all over the stove I was pretty content. It looked chocolatey and beautiful and the batter had tasted fantastic when I put it in the oven. I had made it the night before because it was supposed to rest in the fridge over night, but as I took it out I noticed it was still about the same texture as really gooey chocolate truffles. Which is fine in a truffle size-bite, but a little too overwhelming when in cake-form.
”Don’t eat it, you won’t handle it” I said warningly and put my fork down. After thirty years, I had finally been out-chocolated.
So five hours of baking resulted in one pavlova, of which I had only made the meringue from scratch, and firm chocolate dough so rich even I couldn’t eat it. Baking might not be my thing after all, but at least it looked pretty damn sweet on Instagram.