Spring. She’s back. The mornings have taken on a new routine, old routine renewed. Fresh pot of coffee percolating while the dog bursts through the opened door and heads out back. Sitting on the sun-drenched wood deck and enjoying the sounds of nature steps from our yard. And the morning kicks in and swiftly and abruptly reminds us to get on with it. A long walk to start the day. Time spent editing and crossing off to-do list items, one at a time. Working as the hour hand cycles around the clock. One hour followed by another one. And another. Until it’s gone. Like that…
Days often feel like one another, look like one another. They take on the shape and circumstance. It can become mundane and force us into breaking free and finding our own change. And sometimes, just occasionally, change finds us. Out of nowhere, and unexpectedly. To get us out of the day-to-day doldrums and break free. All because of one client, a connection and phone call. It was done. Happenstance.
My wife and I recently had the pleasure of shooting a family party. A 75th birthday wrapped up in an excuse for a family to get together. We met some truly wonderful people, a definite perk in photographing people and loved ones. That was weeks ago now. And takes us to this past week. Someone, on a social network, was looking for a photographer/photographers to photograph their wedding in Mexico. In four weeks. Which brings us back to that birthday party. Bring us back to that wonderful day and the connections we made.
The chain of events took off. That recent client suggested us to a potential client. And within a few short hours the wheels were turning. By the next morning, my wife was booked. And so was I. Wendy made the call to confirm any questions and finalized details. And later that day, hours after that first posting, we were locked in as their photographers. So in the first week of June, when spring will be thriving here, we will be in Mexico photographing a lovely couple, their three children and close to 25 other friends and family. On the beach, like we did a couple of years ago. A different perspective.
So we celebrated our first official destination wedding with some wine. And a conversation of where we’ve come and where we’re going. All while enjoying the beautiful spring air on display outside. And I told her, as I’ll do again here, that I’m so bloody proud of where she was and where she’s going. And that I’m just a small part of it. I’m so thankful I’m along for the ride. With my one and everything.
The next day, after some of the dust from all that excitement settled away, I decided on celebrating by getting into the kitchen and baking. Something I don’t do much of and, frankly, something I’m not entirely comfortable with and good at. Trust me, piping isn’t easy. Not for a cook like me. And I did a good job of buggering up the piping bag and topping. Looks weren’t all there but it was incredibly good. Lemon curd, meringue top, light dusting. Quite lovely. I did my best that morning and shared a fork with my wife as we tore through a couple of them. Plus with the help of a few friends too.
Spring. She’s back. And I’m so glad she is. Routines find companions, and we find ways to break things up. Like a trip and a wedding. Happy spring!
From my kitchen to yours,
Citrus Meringue Cupcakes
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup almond meal
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- finely grated zest of 2 limes and 2 lemons, plus 1 tbsp. each of lime juice and lemon juice
- 1 cup milk
- Citrus Curd:
- 2 egg yolks
- 3/4 cups superfine sugar
- 1/4 cup of lime and lemon juice (half of each)
- 1/2 stick of cold butter, cut into cubes
- 3/4 cup superfine sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- Start by making the citrus curd. Whisk the yolks and superfine sugar in a saucepan. Add in the lemon and lime juice and the butter over medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until simmering, roughly 7 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat and strain into a metal mixing bowl and place in the fridge until cold. Save until later.
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with liner or butter the liners to prevent sticking. Whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. With electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter, superfine sugar and citrus rinds until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add one egg at a time, beating until each is completely mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each egg is added. Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth, adding in the lemon and lime juice and milk and beating until combined.
- Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way. Bake until risen and golden brown (a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean), about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and turn out onto wire racks to cool. Once cooled, scoop out a bit of the centres and fill with the citrus curd.
- For the meringue, combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring up to a boil and continue to cook until syrup hits 115C degrees, then remove from the heat. As that happens, whisk egg whites and salt using an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Slowly and in a thin stream, pour in the hot syrup, whisking continuously for 2 minutes and then increasing speed to high and continuing for 6 minutes more, or until thick and glossy.
- Transfer the meringue to a piping bag and pipe on top of the cakes, covering the curd. Brown the meringue with a blowtorch and serve with some citrus zest and powdered sugar.