Life is too short to wear cheap shoes. It's also too short to drink cheap wine, but most people already know and agree on that. I have a feeling though that you might not be with me on the shoes, so allow me to explain my thinking. Please.
I always flinch when I see the cost of footwear in shops. But when you consider how long you'll wear a good pair of boots for, and how frequently, the cost per wear falls quickly. I bought some brown leather ones in New York a few years ago, and messed up the exchange rate (read: I was schmoozed into buying them by the very friendly shop assistant, and didn't bother to work it out). It was only when my Mastercard bill came the following month that I realised my error, and told myself that I was going to have to wear them at least three times a week over the next three years to make them cost effective. Fortunately, they combine impeccable style with unbelievable comfort and I have not once regretted the purchase. Unlike my cheap sandals from Muji which gave me a blister that took a month and a half to heal. Vile.
They have met with the fate of untold numbers of well-heeled Cardiffians' shoes though: worn down soles. It's all this traipsing around on Victorian paving slabs.
Anyway, I thought they were ready for the bin, and was distraught. I'm not in a position, financially speaking, to be chucking money around at the moment. New shoes would mean reverting to my lentils and rice diet, and I had enough of that last month. So I had them re-heeled, which was a first for me. And readers: it should be a first for you too. I have new old shoes, and at a bargain price.
Rewarding first time experiences are great. Like making genoise cake, and Swiss meringue buttercream. I had put it off long enough. I would no longer be slave to my fears. Just because I don't have a Kitchen Aid, does it mean I can't make these things? They both pre-date the stand mixer after all.
Rose Levy Beranbaum helped me out on this one. I can't tell you enough that you should buy her book. Buy it. Buy it. Buy it. It'll change the way you bake forever. And it's really cheap on Amazon right now.
Life is too short not to make genoise cakes and Swiss meringue butter cream. Get on it.
(from Rose's Heavenly Cakes
You will need:
50g melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 large eggs at room temperature
125g caster sugar
66g plain flour
60g cornflour or potato starch
Optional jasmine syrup:
1 tsp jasmine extract
- Grease and line a 24cm cake tin. Flour the sides too. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- Warm the butter: if it contains lots of residue (using unsalted will limit this), pass it through a strainer. Add the vanilla, and pour into a small bowl.
- Bring a sauce pan of water to a simmer and place a heatproof bowl over it. To the bowl, add the eggs and sugar; stir until just warm to the touch.
- Remove the bowl from the heat, and beat the egg mixture with electric hand beaters on high speed for at least 5 minutes until it has more than quadrupled in volume.
- Sift together the flour and cornflour. Remove a little of the egg mixture and whisk it into the bowl with the melted butter and vanilla and set aside.
- Working quickly, fold in half of the flour mixture into the egg mixture and once it is incorporated, fold in the rest.
- Scrape down the bowl to insure all the flour has been incorporated and then fold in the butter mixture. Immediately pour into the prepared cake tin.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the sides begin to slightly pull away from the pan.
- Make the syrup: heat the sugar and water in the microwave until dissolved; add the extract.
- Once out of the oven, turn out the cake onto a wire rack immediately. Cool completely before brushing with the syrup, and icing with strawberry meringue buttercream.
Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
from (Martha Stewart's Cupcakes)
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
175g butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
- Purée the strawberries. Set aside.
- Place the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture feels warm to the touch. Remove from the heat.
- Beat the egg whites and sugar for 10 minutes until stiff peaks form.
- Add the butter a little at a time and beat in.
- Beat two minutes more, and then add the purée. Mix in and use immediately, or keep in the fridge for up to three days.