Strawberry fields forever

By Corrie Heale

Summer is officially upon us in true British style – bonkers heat waves sprinkled with showers.

As we all ponder whether or not to put the heating on or sleep with the windows open, I’ve been enjoying my favourite Summer fruit that has drifted back onto our supermarket shelves. All hail the British strawberry.

Of course, strawberries are available all year round from places such as Spain and Morocco but there is nothing like chomping on your first British strawberry of the season. Juicy, sweet and utterly divine, I gobble up an entire punnet as I weave my way through the supermarket and pay for an empty plastic tray. If (unlike me) you manage to get your punnet of strawbs home in one piece, there are multiple ways to enjoy them. Cooked down into a jam and slathered on scones, dipped in clotted cream and dusted with sugar, layered on top of delicate mini cheesecakes, baked into breakfast muffins, chopped up and sprinkled over granola and served with basil and balsamic vinegar… Actually, scratch the last one but you get my drift. I like to whip mine up into an icing for this rather pleasing strawberry ‘traycake’ – see what I did there?

Strawberry sponge ‘traycake’

Makes 12 squares / Hands on time 30 mins / Total time 50 mins / V You’ll need: 25cm square cake tin, electric whisk and a food processor

INGREDIENTS - 110g soft unsalted butter + extra for greasing - 110g caster sugar - 2 medium eggs - 110g self-raising flour - ½ tsp baking powder - ½ tsp vanilla extract Topping: - Handful fresh strawberries, stalks removed and blended - 50g unsalted butter - 100g icing sugar - 6 fresh strawberries, sliced to decorate

TIP: This recipe is easily doubled if you fancy making a two tiered cake.

METHOD

1. Preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4 and grease a 25cm square tin with butter. Line the bottom of the tin with baking paper and put to one side.

2. Measure out the self-raising flour in a small bowl and put to one side. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together for 3 mins until light and fluffy. Crack in one of the eggs along with 1 tbs of the self-raising flour and mix with a spoon before whisking for a further 2 mins (adding flour prevents the mixture from curdling and mixing it with a spoon stops flour going everywhere). Once incorporated, add the second egg along with another tbs of the self-raising flour and repeat the process, although this time add the vanilla extract.

3. Add half a tsp of baking powder to the remaining self-raising flour and fold into the mixture using a wooden spoon, being careful not to overwork the batter. Spoon into the tin and spread the mixture out evenly using the back of a spoon to push it to the edges and smooth the surface. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins. Once baked, leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins before turning out onto a cooling rack.

4. Once the cake has cooled completely, make the icing by blending a handful of strawberries in a blender. In a small bowl whisk the butter until light and fluffy with an electric whisk for a couple of mins before adding 2 tbs of the pureed strawberries and 100g of icing sugar. Mix carefully with a spoon (to prevent icing flying everywhere) before whisking with an electric whisk until you have a light fluffy icing.

5. Spread the icing over the cake evenly and leave to set for 20 minutes before decorating with slices of fresh strawberries. Cut in to squares and serve immediately. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container. Consume within 3 days.

Corrie Heale

Freelance food writer / vegetarian food blogger and recipe writer. corriesrabbitfood.com @corrieheale

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