Enjoy the fruits that signal summer fun

    Frasier Cake

    With Wimbledon starting next week and an abundance of delicious seasonal soft fruits to pick at your local farm it’s time to treat your tastebuds to some of these berry tempting recipes . . .

     

    Last week was the official start of the British Strawberry season and growers predicted there would be a six percent increase in production of the iconic summer soft fruit this year.

    The reason is primarily down to the cool, dry winter and recent spell of warm weather which together have created the perfect growing conditions for this year’s crop of strawberries. These deliciously juicy and slow-ripened strawberries are now on supermarket shelves in abundance and are delicious served straight up with a dollop of fresh cream or as part of a tasty dessert such as the ones featured on these pages.

    Laurence Olins, Chairman of British Summer Fruits, the industry body that represents 98 percent of berries sold in UK supermarkets recently commented: “More and more people understand the fantastic health benefits of snacking on a punnet of berries, and fortunately we have been able to match this growing demand with innovation in the industry, to ensure consumers can look forward to good quality British berries on their supermarket shelves.”

    Frasier Cake

    Wow the special person in your life with this impressive looking cake, this classic French recipe has a few short cuts, so you don’t need to be a master baker to make this version!

    Cuts into 10 slices
    Prep: 45 minutes
    Cook: 35-40 minutes

    225g (8oz) soft margarine
    225g (8oz) caster sugar
    225g (8oz) self-raising flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    Grated rind of 2 lemons
    4 medium eggs
    6 tablespoons limoncello liqueur

    Filling

    400g (14oz) strawberries, hulled
    3 tablespoons cold water
    2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
    150ml (¼ pint) double cream
    500g (1lb 2oz) carton luxury vanilla custard

    Topping

    2 tablespoons apricot glaze or apricot jam minus the pieces of fruit
    250g (9oz) readymade marzipan
    Little icing sugar
    Few small strawberries
    Few chocolate hearts

    1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan) Gas 3. Grease a 20cm (8 inch) heart shaped springform tin with a little oil then line the base with a piece of non-stick baking paper.
    2. Add the margarine, sugar and flour to a large bowl, electric mixer or food processor. Add the baking powder, lemon rind and eggs and beat together until smooth.
    3. Spoon into the lined tin, level the surface and bake for about 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden brown and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the centre of the cake.
    4. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then loosen the edge, remove the tin and lining paper and cool on a wire rack.
    5. When the cake is cold, cut into two thinner rounds, trimming the top level if it is a little domed, then spoon the limoncello over the cut sides. Wash the cake tin and line the base and sides with two strips of clingfilm.  Put one of the cake halves in the tin and pull up the clingfilm if needed so that it slightly overhangs the top of the tin.
    6. Sort through the strawberries, reserve the medium sized ones for the side of the cake and the larger ones for slicing. Cut the medium sized ones in half and arrange in a ring around the outside of the cake in the tin so that the cut edge is pressed against the clingfilm. Slice the rest and arrange as an even layer to cover the base cake.
    7. Add the water to a small heatproof bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine powder and leave to soak for 5 minutes then stand the bowl in a saucepan of just simmering water and heat until the gelatine has dissolved and become a clear liquid.
    8. Whisk the cream until it forms soft swirls in a bowl then fold in the custard. Gradually fold in the dissolved gelatine in a thin steady stream then pour the custard mix over the strawberries in the tin and chill for 10 minutes until just setting.
    9. Add the second cake half to the tin and press lightly into the custard. Gently spread the apricot glaze or jam over the top of the cake. Knead and roll out the marzipan on a piece of non-stick baking paper then cut into a heart, using the cake tin as a guide. Lift over the top of the cake and press into place with fingertips dusted with icing sugar. Chill for at least 4 hours.
    10. When ready to serve, unclip the sides of the tin, peel away the clingfilm, then carefully lift the cake off and transfer to a plate. Decorate the top with the small strawberries and piped chocolate hearts, if liked.

    Cook’s tip

    Not a fan of marzipan then simply leave it out and spread the  top of the cake with melted chocolate or simply dust with sifted icing sugar instead.

    To make chocolate hearts, melt 50g (2oz) dark chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of very gently simmering water. Spoon into a piping bag made of non-stick baking paper, snip off the tip then pipe heart shapes over a sheet of non-stick baking paper set on a baking tray. Chill until set then peel off the paper and add to the top of the cake when ready to serve.

     

    White chocolate mousses with strawberry and black pepper sauce

    Adding just a hint of cracked black pepper to pureed strawberries adds a real kick, combine with the white chocolate, lime and white rum mousse and you will wow your friends.  Make extra sauce and freeze in sections of an ice cube tray, defrost as many ice cubes as you need in the microwave and drizzle over a scoop of vanilla ice cream to give it the star treatment.

    Serves 4
    Prep: 30 minutes
    Cook: 5 minutes
    Chill: 3-4 hours

    White chocolate mousse

    200g (7oz) white chocolate, broken into pieces

    1 lime, grated rind only

    2 eggs, separated

    2 tablespoons white rum

    150ml (1/4 pint) double cream

    Strawberry and black pepper sauce

    50g (2oz) caster sugar

    75ml (21/2 fl oz) water

    1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, roughly crushed

    225g (8oz) strawberries, hulled, sliced

    ½ lime, juice only

    Few extra small strawberries to decorate

    • To make the mousse, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of very gently simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl isn’t touching the water.
    • Take the bowl of chocolate off the saucepan and stir in the lime rind, egg yolks and rum until smooth. Lightly whip the cream until it forms soft swirls then fold into the chocolate mix and spoon into 4 small glasses. Chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours until set.
    • Meanwhile make the sauce, add the sugar, water and pepper to a medium saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved then simmer for 3 minutes. Add the strawberries and lime juice and cook for 2 minutes then leave to cool.
    • Puree the sauce in a liquidiser or using a stick blender until smooth. Pour into a small jug and pour over the tops of the mousses just before serving. Serve on small plates with extra halved strawberries, if liked.

    Recipes courtesy of www.seasonalberries.co.uk

     

     

    Berry interesting facts
    • Over the past year, more than 126 000 tonnes of strawberries were sold in the UK, with shoppers spending more than £580 million on the delectable berry.
    • The consumption of fresh berries has grown by an impressive 132 percent since 2007, outstripping the 49 percent increase of fruit consumption as a whole.
    • Berries now make up a remarkable 22 percent of all fruit sold in the UK, and this has pushed the value of the berry industry above £1.2 billion.
    • Berries are a great healthy, summer snack and an abundant source of vitamins, minerals and phyto (plant) nutrients which have been linked to a diverse range of health benefits.
    • Amongst the many strawberry varieties available on shelves are Malling Centenary, Sweet Eve, Sonata, Elsanta, Driscoll’s Zara and Ava Joy.

    If you fancy picking your own then why not try visiting one of these local farms?

     

    Downingbury Farm
    Maidstone Road
    Pembury
    Kent
    TN2 4AD

    Tel: 01892 824282

     

    Pippins Farm Orchards

    Pembury

    Kent

    TN2 4AD

    Tel: 01892 824569

     

    Stonepitts Farm
    Seal Chart

    Sevenoaks

    Kent

    TN15 0ER

    Tel: 01732 762 983

    Maynards Farm

    Windmill Hill

    Cross Lane

    Ticehurst

    Wadhurst

    TN5 7HQ, UK

    Tel: 01580 200394

    Recipes courtesy of www.seasonalberries.co.uk