Friday, 12 August 2011

Long Awaited Strawberry Cake.

I did it! I went strawberry picking. Fiiinally, after several dampened (literally) attempts and too many weekends filled with work and such nonsense, Saturday and sun and free-time coincided and along I bounded to a pick-your-own (I think in your current country of habitation they're referred to as U-picks, but don't forget your roots). 

I'd never been to Cairnie Fruit Farm before which, it turns out, is rather foolish of me, because it is verging on being heaven for both me and Mr Love and Cake. For me it's the fruit; raspberries strawberries, cherries, gooseberries and even PYO pumpkins in October. For him it's all about the diggers and tractors and bouncy things he could have jumped on if he wasn't 23. Boys! *shakes head and roles eyes*

I was on a Strawberry mission though and after a nice little chat with the Eastern European steward man (stereotype much!), we followed his advice and bypassed all the families gathered around the giant but tasteless fruit in the first few tunnels and went around the corner to the deserted rows of teeny, shiny and oh so delicious berries. 

whywhywWHY were they being ignored? They were little bursts of strawberry joy-like strawberry sweets, the ones that you eat and think...when has a strawberry ever tasted like this. NOW is the answer. So with a basket full of the red jewels I trotted on home (via the beach and a friend's garden where the strawbs were popped into some Pimms...yeSSS) to deal with my spoils.

First stop Strawberry Cake, and what a cake! It's so much more than the sum of its parts and a real treat for breakfast or brunch. Cake in the morning is fine right? As long as there's fruit involved? After much deliberation the rest of the strawbs are hibernating in the freezer, ready and waiting to cheer me up on days when it's only light for 3 hours and the rain makes my hair frizz. With Love and Cake.

Strawberry Sponge

A few notes:
  • I used vanilla extract to flavor the cake and the mascarpone that I served with it, but I'm super keen to try it with Almond Extract next time for more of a marzipany vibe. Let me know if you have a go at it this way and what it's like.
  • The strawbs on the top of my cake went all jammy and delicious, which was definitely helped by the fabulousness of the raw berries. If yours are less' write home' worthy, maybe halve them and let them sit in some sugar or honey for half an hour before you add them to the mixture.  
Makes a 23cm cake
You will need

a 23cm cake tin

85g butter
200g granulated sugar plus extra for sprinkling
1 egg
118ml milk
a splosh on vanilla or almond extract
188g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
a nice big handful of strawberries, any big ones cut in half

  • Heavily grease the cake tin and preheat the oven to 180°.
  • In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat in the egg, and then stir in the milk and vanilla quite gently.
  • Next fold in the flour and baking powder until just combined and pour into the tin.
  • Now arrange the strawberries cut side down on top of the batter, as neatly or as ramshackle as you desire.
  • Sprinkle over lots of sugar for a wonderfully crunchy crust and pop in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Then turn the temperature down to 160° and cook for another 50 to 60 minutes.
  • Serve with sweetened mascarpone or creme fraiche. Yum.

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