I think our strawberries live in constant terror. So heavily protected are their raised beds, they must assume the world beyond the netting is riddled with deadly blackbirds just waiting to peck out their seeds before discarding them mangled and squished on the ground, and that, should their protection ever fail, they will be instantly set upon. Their prison is an impenetrable frame of netting with tent pegs standing sentinel every few centimetres and watched by an ever-vigilant spaniel from our kitchen window, ready to pounce at the first sign of a blackbird (and probably snaffle a few strawberries himself given the chance).
Still, there are benefits to such draconian measures. The harvest this year is fatter, sweeter and more bountiful than ever. And I’m in need of some quick and simple dishes that make the most of the strawberry glut, but don’t take an age to make. You may recall last year’s (borrowed) harvest which led to an idyllic strawberry afternoon tea (which you can find here), but this year something all-together more speedy is called for.
Blueberry and Strawberry Filo Pies
This is a charming idea from one of Sophie Conran’s books. Originally made in muffin trays, in the picture I’ve made them in little petit fours cases for an achingly cute dessert canape. Here’s the recipe in her own words:
- 100g melted butter, plus a little extra for greasing the muffin tray
- 6 large sheets of filo pastry, cut in half
- icing sugar, for dusting
- 150ml double cream
- 1tsp caster sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 12 large strawberries, sliced
- 36 blueberries
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C.
Butter the muffin tray. Brush each of the cut filo sheets on both sides with butter. Line each cup in the muffin tray with a filo sheet.
Put the muffin tray in the oven and bake for 5 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside. When the pastry is cool, carefully remove the filo cases from the muffin tray. Dust them with the icing sugar by putting some icing sugar into a tea strainer or sieve and shaking it over the top of the filo cases.
Whisk the cream with the sugar and vanilla extract until it is thick, using an electric whisk. Dollop a spoonful of cream into each filo case. Pop a few strawberry slices and a few blueberries on top of the cream. Drizzle a little golden syrup over the top.
Strawberry Cheese’cake’ Cups
I say ‘cake’ because really it’s just the filling for a no-bake cheesecake. You could sprinkle some biscuits on top to make it feel more like a cheesecake, but I love this simplicity of this one-pot ‘5 minutes and it’s done’ pud:
- 110g full fat cream cheese
- 50g caster sugar
- 60g creme fraiche
- 120ml double cream
- Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- a good handful of strawberries
Hull and dice the strawberries into a large bowl then sprinkle with a little of the caster sugar and set aside for 10 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and whisk together until the mix forms soft peaks. It will turn a pleasing pink as the whisk mashes the strawberries into the cream. Spoon into tea cups or glasses and chill for around 4 hours until set.
Strawberries and Cream Cake
Another Sophie Conran number. Unusual to find a recipe in only imperial measurements, but this is a cracking cake recipe and the 3:3:3 ingredients list is so easy to remember.
- 3oz granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3oz self raising flour
- whipped cream
- strawberries for inside and on top, chopped
Pre heat the oven to 180C.
Using a hand-held electric whisk, whizz the eggs for a few minutes until quite thick and pale. Whizz in the sugar. Fold in the self-raising flour. Pour the mixture into two 7-inch sandwich tins, lined and greased. Cook for 7 or 8 minutes or until the cake starts going light brown on top.
Once the sponge has cooled, layer the first sponge with whipped cream and then a layer of chopped strawberries. Place the second sponge on top and repeat, layering the whipped cream and chopped strawberries again, this time in a lovely pattern – leaving a couple of strawberries whole with their stalks intact and dusted with granulated sugar will add a nice finishing touch.
Thanks to the lovely ladies at sophieconran.com for the recipes and for inviting me to play with their pretty cakestand which you can see in the pictures.