A taste of summer from our kitchen garden cook, Melanie Johnson.
Nothing represents our glorious British summer quite like sweet and juicy strawberries.
Floral strawberry shortcake
For the sucrée pastry
- 125g soft unsalted butter
- 125g caster sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- Half a teaspoon vanilla-bean paste
- 250g plain flour
For the mascarpone filling
- 400g mascarpone
- 100ml double cream
- 100g soft unsalted butter
- 200g icing sugar
- Fresh strawberries
- Rose petals
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Combine the butter and caster sugar in a food processor until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla paste and a pinch of salt, then process again until combined. Finally, add the flour and process briefly until the dough has a uniform colour. Remove from the processor and bring together with your hands, shape into a flat disc and wrap tightly in cling-film. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Remove the dough from the fridge and set aside to bring to a rollable consistency. Meanwhile, make a heart-shaped template from paper, with a heart-shaped hole in the centre. Roll the dough out to the thickness of a pound coin on greaseproof paper. Cut around the inside and outside of the template, so you have a large heart-shaped piece of dough without a centre. Repeat so you have two identical heart shapes and bake for about 15 minutes, but keep an eye on them as they’ll burn easily. Remove from the oven and cool on a tray.
To make the mascarpone filling, combine all the ingredients using a stand mixer and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a plain round nozzle. Pipe small circles in neat rows onto one of the pastry hearts, top with the second heart and repeat with the cream.
Decorate the top with fresh strawberries, flowers, rose petals, macarons and popcorn. Serve on a summer’s day, with tea.
More ways with strawberries
Strawberry breakfast pots
Mix chopped strawberries with Greek yoghurt and spoon into dishes. In a frying pan, toast porridge oats with chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Once hot, drizzle over maple syrup, stir and sprinkle over the yoghurt and strawberries. This can be made the night before and served in the morning.
Champagne strawberry trifle
Soak strawberries in Champagne with a sprinkling of sugar. Divide between glass bowls and top with a layer of sponge fingers. Pour over creamy custard and decorate the tops with piped whipped cream, strawberries and mini meringues.
Strawberry and peanut-butter bundt cake
Mix together 250g of butter with 250g of caster sugar and 4 eggs until light and fluffy. Stir in a teaspoon of vanilla-bean paste and fold through 250g of self-raising flour. Finally, gently fold through about 15 chopped strawberries and 6tbspn of peanut butter. Pour into a heavily greased and floured bundt tin and bake for about 30 minutes at 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar before serving.
The perfect pudding to round off a lazy alfresco lunch.
A British summer without strawberries would be unthinkable.
Strawberries and rhubarb make a delicious combination in this pretty tart.