For someone who prefers Winter, Summer does have some consolations. Take strawberries. This is that short time of year when those juicy, delectably fragrant berries become readily available for avid consumption.
My boys don’t like fresh strawberries. I’ll be damned if I let two naughty lads get away with not eating this highly nutritious, health-giving fruit though, so I’ve had to come up with creative ways to get them to eat it. Besides, I like strawberries.
Enter strawberry shortcake:
I’ve had a picture of this in my head for a while. I searched all the cookbooks I could find, but none of them had what I wanted. So I fiddled a couple of recipes that were in the range of what I had in mind, and this is what I came up with. It was an instant hit. My boys actually request this cake now [evil snigger].
As its happy eating season, I thought I’d share the recipe for this extremely moreish cake with crisp outer shell and chewy interior. My cooking has been pared down to be as time-efficient as possible these days, so this is a very quick and easy cake to bake. You can substitute any suitable fruit you like for this. I imagine apricots or blackberries would taste equally delicious.
(measurements in the metric weight system)
100g butter (cut into small cubes)
3/4 cup caster sugar + 1/4 cup caster sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g strawberries (hulled and cut into quarters)
Preheat the oven to 190C.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the hulled strawberries, stir through gently, cover and leave to marinate in a cool place for approx 2 hours until the juices run from the fruit.
Pulse the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, butter and baking powder together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, rub the butter into the dry ingredients by hand. Break the egg into this mixture and knead until it forms a soft dough. Now divide the dough into halves. It does not matter if the dough is a little sticky – just use flour when you’re rolling it out later.
Line a 20cm (8″) shallow cake tin with baking paper. Roll out one of the halves of dough to fit the bottom of the tin and place it into the tin. Spoon the strawberries on to this dough (do not use the strawberry juice), leaving a small margin at the sides free of berries. (You might not use up all the strawberries). Roll out remaining piece of dough and gently lay this on top of the strawberries, pressing down around the edges to seal in the fruit.
Bake for approx 30 – 40 mins or until nicely risen and golden (use a knife to check that the dough under the crust is cooked). Leave to cool before removing from the tin (if you use a spring tin with a removable base this isn’t an issue) and then sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.
The best bit? While the boys wolf down shortcake, I get to eat the leftover marinated strawberries, tossed in fresh mint and lemon balm and topped with creamy yoghurt. Mmmmm!