Strawberry and Blueberry Sponge Cake

Whether you are looking at a traditional Sunday afternoon tea sitting on the lawn served with cups of tea, whiling away the last days of summer or simply a tasty slice of cake when you have a sweet craving come calling, this sponge cake topped off with strawberries and blueberries makes a very nice treat.

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Dawn: This delicious, beautiful cake proved to be a big hit for a birthday celebration recently. So, without further a-do, let’s start with the ingredients. 

Ingredients

Serves 10-12

Cake:

200g softened butter (plus a little more for greasing the cake case)

200g castor sugar

4 eggs

150g plain flour (or self-raising, omitting the baking powder)

2 tsp baking powder

Buttercream:

150g softened butter

300g icing sugar

Few drops of vanilla essence

Decorations:

200g blueberries, washed and dried

150g strawberries, hulled, washed and dried

A little icing sugar to dust

Equipment:

1 x 8″ cake tin, with removable bottom

Greaseproof paper

1 x baking sheet

1 x cake board, large enough to carry an 8″ cake

Dawn: Decoration could be anything you decide! You may choose to add a teaspoon of cocoa powder to the buttercream and then pile on top of this a mixture of white, milk and dark chocolate shavings. You might decide to sprinkle the top with a selection of kids’ sweets or add a drop of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the buttercream and then add candied lemon slices across its top.

Method

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, 190°C electric.
  • Line the 8″ cake tin with greaseproof paper, and lightly grease the paper with a thin smear of butter. Set aside.
  • Cream the butter and castor sugar together until they become light and fluffy in texture and appearance.
  • Break one egg at a time into a dish or mug, beat until pale yellow and light  in appearance. Slowly add the beaten egg to butter and sugar mixture until it is combined. Add each of the remaining eggs this way, beating well each time until all four eggs are mixed into the butter and sugar. The mixture will look pale yellow.
  • Slowly add a little of the flour and baking powder (if using), sifting them into the mixture. Fold the flour into the mixture.

Dawn: Folding is a term used to gently combine a whisked or creamy mixture with other ingredients so as the mixture’s overall lightness quality is retained. Folding is done with a metal spoon and is largely used when making certain cakes, meringues and souffles to keep the air in the mixture. 

  • When all of the flour is folded into the mixture, pour the mixture into the cake tin, spooning the top level. Place the cake tin on a baking sheet in the middle of the pre-heated oven. Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes until golden brown in colour.
  • Take from the oven when cooked and set aside until cool. Leave the cake in the cake tin to ensure the cake retains its shape.

Dawn: To test the cake to find out if it’s cooked, simply take a sharp knife and pierce the centre. If the knife comes out clean, then the cake is baked; if it comes out with a googy mixture on it, then it needs further baking time and you will have to keep checking it to see when it is baked. 

  • To make the buttercream topping, put the softened butter into a bowl and gradually sift the castor sugar, all the time beating the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add a drop or two of vanilla essence and mix well.
  • When the cake is completely cold, remove from the cake tin.
  • Place a tiny amount of buttercream on the cake base and then place the cake on top. This dollop of buttercream under the cake secures the cake in place.
  • Now, cover the top of the cake with lashings of the vanilla infused buttercream until the top is completely covered.
  • Taking the hulled strawberries, position these around the edge of the cake creating a ‘wall’ of strawberries to ‘house’ the blueberries in. Add a further strawberry to the centre. Scoop the blueberries into the centre. Sprinkle with a little sifted icing sugar, if you prefer.

Dawn: Baking made easy! “How to Hull Strawberries” is here as well as How to Cream Butter and Sugar”.

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There’s a multitude of variations to be made on this classic sponge recipe. One variation of this sponge could be chocolate sponge cake which simply needs you to substitute 45g (3 level tbsp) of the flour with 45g of cocoa powder.

So, happy baking everyone and for more recipes, cooking tips and meal ideas that are quick and cheap to make, follow this blog – www.forfoodlovers.wordpress.com and click “Follow” over on Twitter @Love_Food_UK for regular food chat as well as finding the cooking sensation over on Facebook (please pop across and ‘Like’ Love Food). Oh, not forgetting the fab MumsNet Bloggers Network and Foodies100, too! 

 

How to Make Pancakes

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Today is Shrove Tuesday, foodies! Time to face your faces and toss or flip to your hearts content! Pancake Day has arrived!

Dawn: Pancakes are so simple, Andrew. So, what is the issue?

Andrew: Too many memories of pancakes on the floor or stuck to the ceiling, I suppose. Really, there is nothing to it.

Dawn: And I suppose you are going to give me a history lesson, too?

Andrew: Of course!Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. Now we see those as basics and essentials, but the tradition was to use all these up and not touch them again until Easter – hence Easter Eggs!

Dawn: Fascinating!

Ingredients

110g/4oz plain flour, sifted

Pinch of salt

2 eggs

200ml milk

75ml water

50g/2oz butter

To serve

Caster sugar

Lemon juice

Method

  • Sift the flour and salt into a  bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it.
  • Whisk the eggs incorporating all the flour.
  • Gradually add the milk and water , continuing to whisk.
  • Whisk again until the batter is smooth.
  • Melt the  butter in a saucepan. Spoon a little of it into the batter and whisk it in.
  • Use the butter to grease the pan, using  kitchen paper to spread it round before you make each pancake.
  • Now get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium.
  • Use 2 tbsp of batter in a  18cm pan. Ladle it into the pan in one go.
  • Tip the batter around from side to side to get an even thickness.
  • Half a minute will do, then lift the edge with a palette knife and check there is a lovely golden-colour tinge.
  • Flip the pancake over with a pan slice  or toss if you are brave. A few more seconds and you are done.
  • Slide onto a plate and serve.

Dawn: Sugar and lemon are traditional.

Andrew: The younger members of the Lover Food household prefer jam, chocolate spread or even bananas.

  • Stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest.

Dawn: You can also keep them warm in a low heat oven, staked simply on top of each other or warm for 20-30 seconds in the microwave. 

  • To serve, sprinkle each pancake with freshly squeezed lemon juice or prepared lemon juice and caster sugar, fold in half, then in half again to form triangles, or else simply roll them up or serve flat, individually. Serve sprinkled with a little more sugar and lemon juice and extra sections of lemon.

Dawn: We also have our Perfect Pancakes recipe here for a decadent version including all the ‘trimmings’, so to speak! http://wp.me/p3lk3r-1E

For more great food and cooking ideas, follow us at www.forfoodlovers.wordpress.com or on Twitter @Love_Food_UK.

Your Choice Flan

DSCI1988This is a great way of using ingredients you already have in the fridge with no shopping trip needed to conjure up a healthy, low fat and tasty lunch suitable for work or served with homemade spicy potato wedges as a nice supper.

Ingredients

Serves 4

4 sheets of filo pastry (defrosted)

1 tbsp of sunflower oil

1 egg

200g of reduced fat creme fraiche

Salt and pepper

Fillings:

Whatever you have in your fridge! Tomatoes or 8 spring onions or 4 large-ish sized mushrooms or 8 asparagus spears, part-boiled.

Dawn: We’ve used chirozo here and spring onions. The beauty of this dish is you can, quite literally, use whatever you have in your fridge to conjure up a tasty, low-fat alternative to a traditional quiche. 

Andrew: Such as sliced courgettes with a slice of mushroom on top? 

Dawn: Yes, Andrew – anything will work with this! Asparagus with a little extra mature cheddar grated on top pre-popping in the oven. Anything: you’re only limited by your imagination!

Andrew: So, let’s crack on!

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 180 °C electric.
  • Chop the spring onions into 1″ lengths and put in a saucepan of boiling water, leaving them in there for 2 minutes. Remove, drain and set the partially cooked spring onions aside.

Andrew: This is known as blanching. 

Dawn: Yes, and softens the onions ahead of being cooked in the oven. 

  • Take about 60g of chirozo and slice into 2-3mm thick slices. Set aside.
  • Lay the 4 sheets of filo pastry out, staked as they come out of the packet and cut in half, and half again to create quarters. Using a non-stick Yorkshire pudding 4 case tray, pick up 1 quarter sheet and place in one of the 4 cases. Repeat this for all four tray cases. With a pastry food brush, lightly brush the quarter sheets with a little oil. Take another quarter sheet of filo pastry and lie it at a different angle, across the first quarter. Repeat this for all 4 cases; there are now 2 layers of filo pastry in each tray case. Lightly brush with a little oil and repeat again to create a third and fourth layer of filo pastry in each tray case, each one positioned as a different angle. This different positioning allows a ‘rim’ to be created to hold in the contents.
  • Crack open the egg into a bowl and add the creme fraiche; mix until they have combined. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  • Arrange a layer of spring onions in each filo pastry case and top off with slices of chirozo, retaining 4 slices.
  • Spoon the egg and creme fraiche mixture into each case. Top off each flan with a slice of chirozo. Gently ‘scrunch’ the filo pastry ‘sides’ to enclose each case.

Dawn: You can, if you wish, grate a little cheese of your choice on top of each flan at this point but I rarely do this as it’s not necessary. The various combinations of ingredients provide lovely tasty mouthfuls with each bite so it’s really down to personal preference as to whether you add the cheese or not.

  • Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until slightly risen and looking cooked.
  • Serve with our simple “How to Make Potato Wedges” http://wp.me/p3lk3r-nl and a small green leaf salad for a delicious meal.

For more recipes and food ideas, follow this blog – www.forfoodlovers.wordpress.com – and the Cooking Duo’s Twitter account @Love_Food_UK