Enjoy the cream of this summer’s soft fruits crop

    Naked Berry Celebration Cake

    With Wimbledon starting this week we’re suddenly craving a bowl of plump, juicy strawberries to enjoy while watching the tennis. But there is so much more you can do with this versatile fruit and its other seasonal counterparts which are now all in abundance. Here are some tempting berry-inspired recipe ideas to try at home


    This fabulously decadent cake is perfect for any party or special occasion
    Serves: 16-20 Preparation: 40 minutes Cook: 1-11/4 hours To finish: 40 minutes

    What you need:
    Lemon cakes:
    400g/14oz soft
    400g/14oz caster sugar 2 lemons, finely grated rind only
    7 medium eggs
    550g/1lb 4oz
    self-raising flour
    5 tablespoons
    semi-skimmed milk

    Lemon drizzle:
    2 lemons, juice only
    150g/5oz caster sugar

    100g/4oz butter, at room temperature
    350g/12oz icing sugar 100g/4oz lemon curd 75g/3oz raspberries

    To decorate:
    strawberries, halved if large
    225g/8oz raspberries 100g/4oz blueberries Little sifted icing sugar Edible flowers, optional

    What you do:
    Preheat the oven to 160oC/140oC fan assisted/Gas mark 4. Cut long strips of nonstick baking paper a little taller than the sides of a cake tin. Fold up one of the long edges by 2cm/3/4 inch then make small scissor snips up to the fold. Arrange the paper strips around the sides of a 20cm/8inch and a 13cm/5inch deep round cake tin with the snipped edges downwards then add a circle of nonstick baking paper to the base of each cake tin.

    Add the soft margarine, caster sugar and lemon rind to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat together until light and fluffy.

    Add one egg and beat until smooth, add a second egg and a spoonful of flour and again beat until smooth.

    Gradually mix in all the remaining eggs and flour alternately until the cake mixture is smooth.

    Divide the mixture between the two tins so that they are a similar depth then smooth the surface and bake in the centre of the oven. Allow 50-60 minutes for the small cake and about 11/4 hours for the larger cake until well risen, golden and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the centre of the cake. Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice and sugar together and set aside. Add all the frosting ingredients to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat together until smooth. Cover the bowl and chill until needed.

    Allow each cake to cool for 5 minutes then turn out on to a wire rack set over a cooling rack so that the top is downwards. Peel away the lining paper and skewer what is now the top of the hot cake. Drizzle over the syrup and leave to cool.

    When ready to assemble the cake, trim off the domed top if needed then turn the cake back over so that the sticky syrupy base is now the top. Cut each cake into 3 layers with a serrated knife. Put the base layer on to a pedestal stand, spread with a little of the frosting then layer up the two other larger cake layers with frosting. Spread the top of the cake with frosting then add the base layer of the smaller cake and layer up cake with frosting.

    Insert 3 long plastic cake supports through the top of the cake down to the second cake to hold them in place. Trim off the top of the cake supports level with the cake using scissors.

    Spread a layer of frosting on the top of the cake then decorate the cake tiers and base of the pedestal stand with berries and dust with sifted icing sugar. Scatter with edible flower petals if using.

    The cake can be made and drizzled with syrup the day before and kept in a large plastic box lined with nonstick baking paper in a cool place. Make and chill the frosting the day before too. Assemble the cake when needed or 2 hours in advance.


    • A greater intake of anthocyanidins is associated with reduced memory decline. Researchers observed that women who had higher berry intake had delayed memory decline by up to two and a half years.
    • Antioxidants, Vitamin C and E found in blueberries are thought to stimulate the fl ow of blood and oxygen to the brain –and keep the mind fresh.
    • Berries are brimming with flavonoids, with past studies revealing flavonoids can protect against degenerative diseases and even help people lose weight.
    • Just seven strawberries contain an adult’s entire RDA of Vitamin C – and they have even more of the powerhouse vitamin than oranges!
    • Superfood Strawberry and Pine Nut Salad

    Whether you want a light lunch or to prepare an easy but impressive looking starter for dinner guests then this simple salad which is packed full of goodness will hit the spot nicely.

    Serves: 2
    What you need:
    100g of strawberries
    1 large avocado
    100g kale
    150g of cooked wild rice
    50g of pine nuts
    2 tbsp of olive oil
    2 tsp of apple cider vinegar
    1 tsp of mustard

    What you do:
    Toast the pine nuts in a small pan for a few minutes until golden then leave to the side to cool. Thinly slice the kale leaves into strips.

    Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and mustard together with a pinch of salt and pepper. Massage the kale with this dressing for 5 minutes until the kale wilts down.

    Cut the strawberries into quarters and the avocado into chunks and mix this with the kale salad. Stir in the wild rice, a pinch of salt and toasted pine nuts and serve.

    Cheat: add black Thai rice instead or buy a pouch of ready cooked brown basmati and wild rice.

    Crisp skinned duck breast


    The trick with cooking fresh cherries is to retain some of their bite, so add them in at the last minute so they retain their firm texture and tart taste.

    Serves: 4
    Preparation time: 20 minutes
    Cooking time: 30 minutes

    What you need:
    4 x small duck breasts (about 160g each)
    Sea salt
    Black pepper
    150ml whole milk
    600ml chicken stock
    150g coarse cornmeal
    4 tbsp crème fraîche
    100g fresh spinach
    sea salt and black pepper
    150ml red wine (approx. 1 small glass)
    250ml chicken stock
    1 tbsp red wine vinegar
    2 tsp honey
    150g cherries, halved and stones removed
    ½ tsp cornfl our
    1 tbsp water
    knob of butter

    What you do:
    Preheat the oven to 160°c (fan). In the meantime make the polenta: place the milk and chicken stock into a pot. Bring to a boil. Slowly pour the cornmeal into the boiling liquid continuously stirring with a wooden spoon
    as it thickens. Turn the heat down to low. Stir at regular intervals to stop the polenta sticking. When the polenta starts to come away from the pan (about 15 minutes) and thicken to a mash potato consistency, stir in the crème fraîche and spinach. Taste for seasoning.

    In the meantime, lightly score the skin of the duck breast with a sharp knife.

    Season the duck breasts with plenty of salt and pepper. Heat a heavy based non-stick frying pan. Place the duck breast skin side down and gradually turn up the heat. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until most of the fat has rendered and the skin has become crisp and golden brown. Turn over and cook for another couple of minutes on the other side. Place the duck breast in a baking dish in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the duck breasts from the pan (do not wash the pan) and place the duck breasts in a warm place covering the flesh with aluminium foil to rest, but leaving the skin exposed.

    To make the sauce, pour off the excess fat from the duck frying pan. Get the pan hot again. Add the red wine and let it bubble for a minute before adding the stock and bring it to a boil. Whisk the cornflour with the water and whisk it into the sauce. Continue to stir until the sauce has become thick and glossy (about 5 minutes). Add the red wine vinegar, honey and taste for seasoning. Take off the heat and stir in the cherries and butter.

    Slice up the duck breast into thin slices (add any of the juices to the sauce). Place on a heap of creamy spinach polenta and spoon over plenty of the cherry sauce. Serve immediately.


    • The rendered duck fat is also excellent for roasting potatoes.
    • The duck breast will be slightly pink in the middle. If you prefer it well done, cook the meat for 5 minutes longer in the oven.