14th February 2014
Living in Newcastle for the last 20 years has softened me up to the fight of the underdogs. My beautiful city (oh yes, it is!) has battled earthquake, the end of the steelworks, and the general malaise and apathy of a few locals who can’t see the forest for the trees.
I’d spent the better part of a week talking on my radio program about SPC and the battle the company faced to stay alive; MP Sharman Stone had railed against her own party; Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson took my questions about ‘how trade agreements work’; and William Churchill from vegetable growers industry body AusVeg had explained how some trade agreements meant that it is legal to import some foods into Australia which may contain chemicals that we ban from use here (I know, right?).
And after the federal government refused financial assistance to SPC, one Novocastrian – the effervescent Linda Drummond – thought about the 700 staff at SPC Ardmona and asked if we could perhaps just buy a tin of preserved fruit and share a photo of it on what she dubbed #SPCsunday.
I’d like to think that maybe someone would try to help me if my family was ever in such a precarious position, and besides, I don’t need an excuse to bake, so Peach Meringue Pie it was!
If you hate meringue, turn the excess egg whites into an omelette.
Peach Meringue Pie
1½ cups plain flour
2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture
150g chilled butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons cold water
Throw the flour, butter, sugar into a food processor (seriously) and mix until like bread crumbs, then your egg yolk, and finally your cold water. Mix into a dough, wrap it up in cling wrap and stick in the fridge for half an hour or so. Or overnight. Or whatever.
When you’re ready to make the crust, roll it out on a smear of oil on your board or bench and it will awesome. Pop it into your pie tin, poke lots of holes in the base of your pastry and then bake it at 180C until it looks nice.
Creme Patissiere … sounds fancy, is easy, and very handy vanilla goo for all sorts of stuff!
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup white sugar
2tsp plain flour
300ml milk … don’t use skim milk – yuk!
½ tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste … or scrape the innards out of a vanilla bean if you have one
Mix your sugar and egg yolks together, then mix your plain flour and cornflour into the egg mixture, then your milk and vanilla. Mix until it’s all combined and nice and smooth.
Pop it into a saucepan on a medium heat and stir it while you bring it briefly to the boil. It will thicken up like magic and there you have it.
Let it cool. Probably cover it with cling wrap actually touching the surface or it will get a skin like a custard, which I love but some people hate. Strange.
4 egg whites
½ cup white sugar … I sometimes don’t use all the sugar, ’cause this is a pretty sweet pie.
You should now have 4 egg whites! Hopefully you separated them from the yolks without getting so much as a tiny drop of yolk in them or they won’t fluff up to become meringue!
Use a clean, dry bowl!! The tiniest bit of fat and your whites are stuffed.
Whisk your egg whites until they start to become cute and fluffy, then gradually add your sugar while whipping the hell out of your egg whites (my Aunt used to make me do this by hand).
Keep whisking and whipping until you get firm peaks that look like you could ski on them.
Grab your now-cooled pastry base, smear the creme patissiere all over it, then generously cover that in peach slices, and sploodge your meringue mixture all over the top.
Shove it all in the oven at about 180C until the peaks of the meringue start to look nice and toasty.
Eat it with vanilla ice cream!
Check-out Carol’s interview with Linda Drummond and SPC Ardmona MD Peter Kelly.