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Victoria Sponge

I love having morning and afternoon teas. It’s a great way to catch up with friends and I like the fact that I can prepare everything in advance, from cakes to scones to sandwiches.

A big favourite is my Victoria Sponge. It’s a delicious cake, and filled with jam or cream, it’s so more-ish. The recipe is based on one from James and Tom Morton’s “Shetland, Cooking on the Edge of the World”.

James describes in vivid detail his grandmother’s recipe. It really is a tribute to her baking skills and to recipes handed down through the family.

Now Queen Victoria would not be at all amused, as I fill my sponge with cream. Sacrilege I know, but I love the ooze of softly whipped cream on top of jam in between those delicious sponge layers!

Ingredients 

150g salted butter

150g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 medium free-range eggs

150g self raising flour 

1/2 tsp baking powder

Full fat milk, to loosen mixture

To fill and decorate

Strawberry or raspberry or mixed berry jam, homemade or store bought, 

200 mls cream, whipped 

Icing sugar or caster sugar, for the top of the cake

Fresh and crystallised rose petals 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease 2 18cm (7 inch cake tins with butter, really really well.

Take a large piece baking or parchment paper, fold in half, and draw a circle around one of the tins. With the drawing as a guide, cut out 2 circles.  Line the base of each cake tin with the paper circles. 

Heat the butter in a microwave or in a saucepan on the stove top, to the point where half the butter is just melted, and the rest is soft. Put the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs into a mixing bowl, or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, and whisk on medium speed until the mixture is very pale and thick, almost mousse like.

Sieve the flour and baking powder, and fold these in gently using a metal spoon, being careful not to overmix. When the mixture is nearly smooth, add a little milk, a dash at a time, to loosen the mixture “until it falls from the spoon in a swift wave”.

Spoon the mixture into the tins, gently smoothing flat. Put the cakes into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and the cakes bounce back when gently pressed.

Take out of the oven, and cool in the tins for 10 minutes. Run a butter or palette knife around the edge of the tins to free the sides. Carefully turn the cakes onto a wire cooling rack. Peel off the baking/parchment paper. Leave to completely cool.

Place one cake, upside down on the plate or cake stand you intend to serve the cake on. Spread with the jam, and then spoon or pipe on the whipped cream. Place the other cake on top. 

Dust with icing or caster sugar, sieved over the cake. I like to serve the cake with fresh and crystallised rose petals.

For the crystallised rose petals:

Take one lovely rose, hopefully growing in your garden, and gently wash and dry each petal. Lightly beat an egg white, with a few drops of rosewater, in a small shallow bowl. Dip each petal in the beaten egg white, shaking off any excess. Put 75g caster sugar on a large plate. Dip each petal in the caster sugar, again shaking off the excess. Place the petals on baking paper on a tray, to dry, in a warm place. 

The petals are quite fragile, but will last a couple of days. They are very useful for decorating cakes, biscuits and tarts. And adding the rosewater intensifies the rose flavour!


Strawberry Ripple Cake Revisited

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I was looking back at my archives and I found this lovely cake that I made a while back. I thought it might be nice to revisit it. It’s a simple butter cake, with a strawberry jam ripple. The addition of sour cream makes it a very moist cake too!

Summer in Sydney is all about the berries. Every supermarket and green grocer is practically giving away strawberries! And blueberries and raspberries are, well, as cheap as chips or … berries. So I use berries, and in particular strawberries, in cakes, puddindgs and pies quite a lot.

Ingredients

150g unsalted or salt reduced butter, at room temperature

215g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2  large free-range eggs

300g  self-raising flour

300g  sour cream

1/2 cup strawberry jam (preferably home-made, see recipe below)*

Icing

200g icing sugar mixture

15g butter, at room temperature, chopped

1 1/2-2 tablespoons hot water

1-2 drops red food colouring

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degreees C fan-forced.

The cake looks nice in a decorative mold like a rum baba tin, which I used, or a bundt tin. Otherwise use a large cake tin. Grease the mold or tin with butter or non stick spray.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a food processor until pale and thoroughly amalgamated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and sour cream, alternately, using a metal spoon. Tricky but not impossible in a food processor!

Pour half the mixture into the prepared mold or tin. Spoon over half the jam. Using a skewer, ripple the jam through the mixture.  Spoon the rest of the cake mixture in to the mold or tin, add the remaining jam and ripple again.

Bake for 40-50  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  The cake will take longer in a deep mold, it will take a shorter time in a conventional tin. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Put the butter into a cup, pour over the hot water, and stir until the butter is dissolved. Mix into the icing sugar. Stir in the food colouring. Icing is not an exact science, so carefully add more icing sugar or a little water as needed, to get the icing to the right consistency. You can ice with a knife or just spoon over the cake and let the icing drip down the sides. Set aside until set.

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Strawberry Jam Crostata

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Quirky Niece No 1 gave me a really easy recipe for Crostata, or Italian jam tart. She acquired the recipe on a recent trip to Italy. She tells a lovely story, below in this post, of her time in Italy with Companion to Quirky Niece.

“So, as part of our spontaneous European holiday, we decided to hire a car and drive around Tuscany for 5 days. After a hairy hour or so battling peak-hour Florence traffic due to a GPS mayhap, we finally found ourselves out in the countryside and at our first airbnb accommodation, a sprawling country house on an agriturismo near Montepulciano. In the warm summer evenings we sat on the balcony, looking out at the glittering lights of the ancient city, and every morning, we ate a sumptuous breakfast prepared by our beautiful hosts, which included fresh cheeses, sliced meats and a wonderful jam tart. We could never finish it, so we took it with us on our adventures, only to find another one freshly baked the next day! On our final day, I asked our friendly host which baker she bought it from. Highly amused, she responded that she was a terrible cook, but this was her special foolproof recipe. In an instant, she quickly set her baby down and wrote up the ingredients on a post-it. And now, it has become my go-to entertaining recipe as well!  I use all kinds of jam, so long as they have delicious chunks of fruit, and I remember our host’s exhortations to prick the base thoroughly with a fork before spooning in the jam.”
 bratkartoffeln58
I made the crostata recently using this recipe. I made a quick strawberry jam for the filling, but any good quality store bought jam would do. In hindsight, my pastry was too thick – I would use a larger baking mold next time, for a more manageable pastry base.
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Ingredients

300g plain flour
½ sachet of baking powder (1 sachet = 11g)
150g sugar
100g butter
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks

Quantity of any good jam for the filling ( I used strawberry here)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a tart mold with baking paper or you could simply grease a baking tray if you want a true rustic crostata.

Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a food processor and pulse till the mixture just comes together.

Make a well  in the centre  and add the butter and egg and egg yolks and mix in gently until combined but not overworked.

Roll out the dough roughly  – remember this is not a precise tart – and line the tart mold. Or gently shape the dough into a round with a pastry rim on the baking tray. And prick the base – something I forgot to do this time!

Fill the tart with the jam and bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden and the jam bubbling.

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Strawberry Ripple Cake

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This is a version of a recipe I found while “recipe surfing”. I was looking for something to something to do with strawberries, which are plentiful and cheap in spring in Sydney. The cake has ripples of home made strawberry jam through the cake, creating a tangy – and pretty effect. The addition of lot of sour cream in the mixture is great – lovely flavour, and I hope may give the cake some longevity. That may be hard to prove, as the cake tasters I made it for today have done a thorough job!

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Ingredients

150g unsalted or salt reduced butter, at room temperature

215g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2  large free-range eggs

300g  self-raising flour

300g  sour cream

1/2 cup strawberry jam (preferably home-made, see recipe below)*

Icing

200g icing sugar mixture

15g butter, at room temperature, chopped

1 1/2-2 tablespoons hot water

1-2 drops red food colouring

Method

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

The cake looks nice in a decorative mold like a rum baba tin, which I used, or a bundt tin. Otherwise use a large cake tin. Grease the mold or tin with butter or non stick spray.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a food processor until pale and thoroughly amalgamated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and sour cream, alternately, using a metal spoon. Tricky but not impossible in a food processor!

Pour half the mixture into the prepared mold or tin. Spoon over half the jam. Using a skewer, ripple the jam through the mixture.  Spoon the rest of the cake mixture in to the mold or tin, add the remaining jam and ripple again.

Bake for 40-50  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  The cake will take longer in a deep mold, it will take a shorter time in a conventional tin. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Put the butter into a cup, pour over the hot water, and stir until the butter is dissolved. Mix into the icing sugar. Stir in the food colouring. Icing is not an exact science, so carefully add more icing sugar or a little water as needed, to get the icing to the right consistency. You can ice with a knife or just spoon over the cake and let the icing drip down the sides. Set aside until set.

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*Home-made strawberry jam

This is an adaptation of my strawberry conserve recipe found on this blog. The difference is much smaller quantities and I mushed the strawberries so that they would ripple nicely through the cake.

Take 200g strawberries and cover with 100g sugar in a bowl (non metallic). Leave for at least 2 hours. The strawberries will have started to give up their juices. Place into a saucepan with the juice of a lemon. Heat slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When all the sugar is dissolved, boil on a moderate heat until setting point is reached. Mush the strawberries, if still whole, into a jam like consistency. Take off the stove and allow to cool.

For more on jam making, click here

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Crumpets Revisited

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I love home made crumpets and I haven’t made them in ages so I cooked up a batch on the weekend. A previous post in 2013 used a recipe involving both bicarbonate of soda and soda water:

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/05/05/home-made-crumpets-3/

The recipe that follows is based on one from Gourmet Traveller and omits the soda water and uses more milk. The results were similar although I think the soda water version was a little lighter.

Ingredients
400 mls milk
20 gms butter, plus extra, softened, for greasing and cooking
1 tsp caster sugar
4 gms dried yeast
250 gms plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method
Heat milk and butter over a low heat until butter melts, then stand until lukewarm.Combine sugar and yeast in a small bowl, add 100ml milk mixture, stir to dissolve then stand in a warm place until foamy (4-5 minutes).
Combine flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add yeast mixture, stirring to incorporate a little flour.
Add remaining milk mixture, stir until smooth and combined, cover and stand in a warm place until very foamy (1-1½ hours).
Dissolve bicarbonate of soda in 25 mls warm water, add to batter, beat to combine.
Cover and stand until bubbling (25-30 minutes).
Heat a frying pan over low-medium heat. Add a little butter, then place buttered crumpet rings in the frying pan and fill each two-thirds full with batter.
Cook until mixture bubbles and small holes form on the surface  (4-5 minutes).
Remove rings, turn crumpets and cook until light golden (1 minute).

Serve warm immediately or serve toasted the following day. I ate them with butter and jam and I also tried golden syrup and fresh berries and yoghurt.  This quantity makes about 10 crumpets.

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