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Friday, 17 July 2015

Strawberry Pinata Cake

It was my daughter's 11th birthday last week. This is my "fruit monster" daughter I'm talking about. She is fortunate in that she absolutely loves fruit and veg and would actually rather eat it than anything else and puzzles over why other children spend their money on buying sweets. She is also fortunate that her birthday falls in prime soft fruit season. This means that usually I make her a birthday fruit-related cheesecake as her birthday cake. Her favourite is raspberry and white chocolate, with her age marked out in fresh raspberries.

I was all set to make this cheesecake again this year when I came across a "Strawberry Pinata Cake" on facebook a few weeks ago. This instantly caught my attention. Recently there has been surge in the popularity of pinata cakes and you can even buy special cake tins for the purpose. Every other one I have seen have had Smarties or something similar tumbling out of the middle so I have been uninspired. This cake, however, had fresh strawberries as the hidden central surprise... and I instantly knew a suitable occasion for such a cake. I pinned it to my Pinterest page and checked with my daughter that this cake would appeal. She was very enthusiastic.

Last year Steve revamped our strawberry bed so this year we have had a lovely crop of strawberries but I was a little anxious that by the time it came to her birthday, the strawberries would be tailing off. This is why raspberries are usually my fruit of choice for her cake. I was so unconvinced that I would have decent strawberries that for a moment when I was doing my online grocery order I hovered over the punnets of strawberries and considered buying some just to be safe. However, I figured that if I wasn't in the shop to choose the punnet, I would probably end up with a collection of unripe, tasteless fruit anyway.

As it turned out, I needn't have worried. On the eve of her birthday I went out to pick the required fruit and quickly filled my basket up with beautiful strawberries. The recipe called for 300g and it was clear that I had more than enough. So the next morning I set about making 3 sponges for the layers using a straightforward sandwich cake recipe. The recipe suggested that each sponge should be cut in half horizontally to make a stack of 6 layers of cake but my sponges were a little skinny for slicing in half so I decided 3 layers would be adequate. I think 6 layers would have been a bit excessive and over done on the jam and cream in between anyway.

Whilst the sponges cooled, I went out to her sports day. She was excited to have sports day on the same day as her birthday. Then, when I got back from that I set about assembling the cake, using smaller strawberries to fill the centre and the larger ones to decorate the top. Anyway, it turned into an impressive stack of a cake and my daughter was thrilled to see it when she got home. But of course, the best part was cutting into it and seeing the fresh strawberries inside. I have a feeling this cake might feature again in future birthdays... or even next time we have a flush of lovely strawberries.

  1. 300g unsalted butter
  2. 300g sugar
  3. 6 eggs
  4. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 300g self raising flour
  6. 400ml double cream
  7. 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 1 tbsp icing sugar
  9. strawberry jam
  10. 300g (approx) strawberries
  1. pre heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C (fan)
  2. grease and line 3 x 8 inch baking tins
  3. cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  4. add the eggs, the vanilla extract and a tbsp of flour and beat well for a few minutes
  5. Lightly fold in the flour
  6. divide the batter between the cake tins and cook in the oven for approx 25 mins until golden brown, risen and cooked all the way through
  7. leave to cool
  8. when you are ready to assemble your cake, whip the cream with the vanilla extract and icing sugar until just thick as you want it to have some movement
  9. using a large scone cutter, cut out rounds from the middle sponge.
  10. Starting with the bottom sponge, place onto your cake stand/plate and place the scone cutter in the middle and add jam around the circumference and cover the jam with some cream then remove the scone cutter.
  11. top with with the middle sponge with the hole in the middle and cover this layer with jam and cream
  12. Fill the void up with small strawberries cover with the top sponge layer
  13. Top this sponge with some more cream and decorate with some more strawberries
  14. keep in the fridge, unless serving right away
  15. although it will keep for a day or two, it will be best on its first day

Adapted from recipe by By Jenny Paulin - http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Strawberry Chocolate Flan

On a Saturday morning my husband takes my youngest daughter out for her weekly dance class and in the meantime I spend some quality time in the kitchen with my eldest daughter. Often I make a batch of jam or some more granola for next week's breakfast or some flapjacks for Steve. She, on the other hand, finds another biscuit recipe to try in order tp keep herself supplied with a mid-morning cookie at the school in the week ahead.

At the moment she is working her way through my "Colossal Cookie" recipe book. As the name suggests, it is quite a tomb so we have lots of recipes to try. It is, however, a bit rubbish. I think maybe it has been translated from American or something and many of the recipes she has tried have failed. Nothing to do with her but rather to do with odd things in the recipes, leading to overly sloppy dough or ridiculous numbers of biscuits.

A couple of weekends ago, we found ourselves in the middle of one such cookie recipe disaster and she was left with sticky dough and runny filling. I broke away from my own baking to help rescue the situation and with the addition of copious amounts of flour and some careful handling, we managed to assemble some biscuits. Even so we were left with about half of the chocolate filling. Not one for wasting food, I potted it up and popped it in the fridge for another occasion.

The "other occasion" presented itself a few days later when I bought a flan case from the supermarket on a whim and then decided to fill it with some freshly picked strawberries. The chocolate biscuit filling made the perfect flan filling, topped with sliced strawberries and I managed to whip up a tasty mid-week dessert in a matter of minutes. It was so tasty that this week I bought another flan case and made some more of the chocolate filling, sliced up a few strawberries and once again enjoyed a delicious summer dessert with very little effort. Definitely one to file for the future.

Strawberry Chocolate Flan

1 x medium flan case
2 fl oz double cream
4 squares (1 oz) chocolate (plain or milk)
3-4 strawberries

Grate the chocolate into the cream and heat in the microwave for about 15 seconds then stir until the chocolate is melted. Place in the fridge for about half an hour then whip until thick. Spoon the chocolate filling into the flan case and level. Slice some strawberries and arrange them on the filling. Return to the fridge to chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Raspberry Rice Pudding

In the hot weather we have been having recently, rice pudding is probably the last thing you fancy for afters. Although a stodgy bowlful of steaming hot rice pudding is the perfect winter comfort food, served chilled, it can also make a surprising light summer dessert. And topped with a drizzling of raspberry sauce, it simply zings with the flavours of summer.

Raspberry Rice Pudding Pots (makes 4)

A little butter for greasing
50g pudding rice
25g caster sugar
500ml semi-skimmed milk
A grating of nutmeg
100g raspberries
2 tablespoon apple juice
1 tablespoon caster sugar

Preheat oven to 160°C and grease the base and sides of a suitable ovenproof dish with a little butter. Put the rice, caster sugar and milk into the dish and stir to dissolve the sugar. Grate a little nutmeg over the surface of the milk. Place the dish in the oven and leave to cook for about two and half hours. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Spoon the thick rice pudding into 4 suitable serving glasses/dishes and press down lightly with fingers. Put in the fridge to chill. Place the raspberries, apple juice and caster sugar in a pan and heat gently for a few minutes until the raspberries break down. Put a sieve over a jug and sieve the raspberry mixture through it to remove the pips. Pour the liquid equally over the four rice puddings then return to the fridge to chill until ready to serve.