There is something heavenly about the heady fragrance of fresh, ripe juicy strawberries that always makes me think of Summer. When my son was young, we would spend many a sunny afternoon in a strawberry field, gently plucking plump berries from their leafy beds & enjoying their tantalising fragrance on the way home, eagerly looking forward to devouring them!
Now we all know they go very well sandwiched in a scone with jam & cream (if you don’t, you’re missing out), so I like to include these beautiful berries in other delights too.
For a quick impromptu dessert (unexpected guests will love this), whip up a fluffy, fat-free sponge & layer between thinly sliced strawberries & piped cream. It looks like you’ve spent all afternoon baking, but actually takes about 20 minutes from start to finish & most of that time is spent on the assembly! Dust it with icing sugar & if you really want to make it look extra fancy, make a pattern in the sugar with a hot metal skewer across the top (wear an oven glove though – the scent of burning fingers is never attractive).
Then there is the fabulous “Fraggle Tart” from one of my favourite Italian cookbooks – my family call it this because the Italian name is crostata di mandorle e fragoline (please note, no fraggles were harmed in the making of this treat). Of course, the pastry has to be homemade with soft butter, eggs, sugar & flour – if you’re going to do these beauties justice, have a go at making your own. I’ve used various types of flour, even wholemeal once as you can see, but if I’m honest I prefer plain.
Another favourite of mine are strawberry jam tarts – I have my own take on these jammy little pastry cups & this is for those over-ripened fruits, the slightly squishy, sad looking ones that have been living in your fridge for a few days & need eating. Put a spoonful of the squished berries in the bottom of pastry cases, spoon a little warm, seedless jam over them (only half fill, as jam tends to grow), then bake. Once cooled, just add a swirl of soft cream & a sprig of mint! I try to keep a few in an airtight container for the next day, but they somehow evaporate …. !
However you decide to honour the strawberry, I hope I’ve inspired you to do more than just chuck them in a bowl with some sugar on. A x