How to make Louise Cake…

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So anyways, I’m now deadline free- for the first time since the beginning of February. When I say deadline free, I mean freelance deadline free- the next draft of Finding John Smith (or whatever I end up deciding the title should be) is due in June…more on that later.

Since February I’ve been busy collaborating on the 2017 version of the astro diaries I contributed to last year- and the year before. I’ve also written another unrelated astrology article- I turned that in on Saturday morning, but the last thousand or so words were like pulling teeth. Throw in the day job and it’s all been pretty mad.

I’ve found myself in the kitchen as often as I can on weekends. Not only is it therapeutic (although my family probably don’t feel that listening to my music turned up really loud is at all calming) but it’s something that in a crazy world I can have some influence over the outcome of.

The thing is, I don’t have a sweet tooth so rarely try my own baking. It’s not that I’m anti-sugar, it’s just that I think my body works better if I don’t eat much of it. Besides, I get all the sweetness I need (and more) from wine. As a side note, because the grapes are fermented, does that make them paleo? I’m asking for a friend.

This means that when I bake, I’m generally baking for others, but in doing so, am actually comforting myself. Yes, I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

In doing as much baking as I have, I’ve somehow not put the same energy into our evening meals. It had been way too long since the three of us sat down at the table for a meal that I’d actually put some effort and thought into. So yesterday morning I declared that was changing. Full three courses, I said. With wine, a playlist and candles, I said. I’ll cook all afternoon, I said. I forgot to light the candles, but the intention was there…

We started with a cauliflower soup- removing some of the superiority attached to making something that’s naturally creamy and luxurious with no actual cream by adding in some good, sharp cheddar right at the end.

This was followed by a tarragon chicken. I’ve told you about this one before, but it’s something I haven’t made for a couple of years- and seriously don’t know why I haven’t.

To finish we had these cute little chocolate orange pots. Essentially this is your basic ganache recipe, but made with dark orange infused chocolate. Lindt do a nice one. Then it’s liquidised until it’s frothy. You break in an egg and do the blitzy thing some more. You can find the recipe here.

Because I had some down-time while the chicken was bubbling away, I also whipped up a Louise cake….or is it a Louise slice? Who knows? Apparently the name comes from the wedding cake of Princess Louise- one of Queen Vicky’s girls- but don’t quote me on that.

Anyways, this slice/cake/whatever is a real Kiwi classic. Although it doesn’t contain any condensed milk, it does have that other Kiwi pantry staple- desiccated coconut.

There’s a little bit of palaver associated with this one: as you cook the shortbread base, spread the jam over that, and then bake it again with the coconutty meringue on top. When done the meringue is crispy and cracky on top and soft underneath.

It looks perfect on a pretty plate, and it tastes great with a cup of tea. Yes, I actually tried some.

Want the recipe? There are lots on-line, but this is the one that I used. It’s by Annabel Langbein. Of course.

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