As a teen I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want to attend university, I am too much of a daydreamer to be able to sit still, lecture after lecture, taking notes. I am also very much a kinetic learner, I have to be doing something hands-on to grasp it. This is how I learned photography. I watch videos and tutorials to get the gist of something, but my hands and creative part of my brain need to be actively rolling for me to understand something. And it’s all about laying it out, looking at it, and deciding from there if it works or not. Sketches and plans and notes are lost on me.
As a kid I did know I wanted to do something creative, my childhood was all about pretty stationery and doodling in my diary. But if I was to sit and think exactly what it is I wanted to do, I was stumped. I enjoyed writing, but what would I write about? I enjoyed drawing, but I wouldn’t say I am any good at it. I didn’t know then that photography was something I could pursue and saw it more as fun than a career. Even though I have boxes and boxes and boxes of photos collected from my childhood, I didn’t aspire to take photos as my profession.
I’ve been freelancing for over two years now, seriously and actively for the past year and a bit. And every Monday when I wake up and get my morning coffee, I still pinch myself. No peak hour traffic, no needing to look civilised to fit into society, no rush. Monday is my official ‘day off’, it was my one promise to myself when I started to dread the 9-5 that I would never work on Mondays. Of course I still do work, but it’s at my own leisure and if I don’t feel like it, I don’t. Mondayitis is no longer a thing.
A couple of weeks ago I was at one of my favourite cafes finishing up a client meeting (I love that I can choose my ‘office’ to suit my mood). I was settling the bill when the waitress asked, “What do you do?” Without even thinking I answered, “I’m a photographer.” And right at the moment those very words left my lips I felt my heart beam with joy. I am a photographer. Up until now, although I do see myself as a photographer, I haven’t really grasped the fact that this is what I do for a crust. This is my work, my job, my livelihood. I guess because it feels nothing like what I have seen as ‘work’ for the past 23 years, it still surprises me that I get to do it for a living.
And this little blog is what got me here.
If I had not started to blog about food, and then take photos of food, I am not sure how all this would’ve come about. It doesn’t really matter, the thing is, I am here. And I know I have this humble little space to thank. I don’t get here as often as I used to, not due to lack of interest but more a lack of time. But my heart will always belong to cake crumbs & beach sand.
Now onto pavlova. Three layers of delightful marshmallowy meringue sandwiched between coconut flavoured cream. And to top it all off, chopped Bounty bars and Coconut Cream TimTams. I had this idea in my head for some time, but it took the long weekend to grant me enough time in the kitchen to humour the thought. Thankfully my lovely friends next door are partial to Bounty because I started a health kick yesterday so my timing wasn’t wonderful. Never mind, my blog gets some love and so do my neighbours.
Chocolate Coconut Layered Pavlova Recipe
Ingredients // makes 3 x 18cm layers or 1 big cake
6 large egg whites
1 ½ cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cornflour
600ml whipping cream
3 tablespoons caster sugar
½ teaspoon coconut essence
3-4 Bounty bars, chopped roughly
6-8 Coconut Cream TimTams, chopped roughly
Preheat oven to 180C. Draw an 18cm circle on 3 sheets of baking paper, turn each over (so the circle is on the underside) and place each onto a baking tray.
Ensure your glass bowl is clean, then rub a small bit of cut lemon over the inside of the bowl to remove any traces of fat. Wipe dry with paper towel.
Add egg whites to bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while continuing to whisk. Once all sugar has been added, continue to whisk for 8-10 minutes until mixture is glossy and smooth and holds firm in the bowl. Add vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Gently fold in cornflour with a spatula.
Put a small blob of mixture under each piece of paper to make them stick to the trays. Spoon mixture equally onto baking sheets and shift each into a circle shape.
Place trays into oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 150C. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes until meringues are crispy and slightly golden in colour. Turn off oven and leave to completely cool inside with door slightly ajar.
Once the meringue layers have cooled, whip cream, caster sugar and coconut essence in a bowl until soft peaks form.
Place first meringue layer on a serving plate and pour a third of the cream on top. Spread around messily, no need for it to be neat. Place the second layer on top, and repeat with another third of the cream. Position the last layer and top with the remaining cream. Garnish with the chocolate and biscuit pieces. And if you want to get seriously indulgent, melt a small bit of dark chocolate and drizzle it over the top.
** Meringue can be made the day before and kept overnight in an airtight container.
** It has been said that by adding two teaspoons of white vinegar to the egg white mixture it will aid in preventing cracking when cooking, but I don’t mind the cracks so I don’t add it.