Three berry nice cakes to celebrate summer
In Season: Strawberries have just come into season, so it’s time to get baking ... a cake, a tart and a cheesecake from our recipe archive
Strawberries are a seasonal treat and with the Irish ones arriving in shops, now is the time to indulge
According the Met Éireann, summer is on the way next week, with “dry and warm” weather across the country. So let’s welcome it with a punnet of our very best recipes for strawberries, the quintessential summer fruit, which the Bord Bia seasonal availability chart tells us come into season this month.
According the Keelings, the Irish family firm that grows more than 100 million of them for the Irish market, strawberries are full of goodness. “Five strawberries (or a half a serving) contain more antioxidant power than three apples or four bananas and provide more vitamin C than an orange.”
Of course, it is possible to enjoy them on their own, or with just a modish sprinkle of black pepper or a drizzle of aged balsamic. But when strawberries meet dairy, magic happens.
Domini Kemp combines whipping cream and mascarpone with honey and vanilla extract for a extra rich filling for her strawberry cake. “This cake doesn’t hold well, so make, decorate and eat on the same day,” she advises. No problem, there, I’d say.
If sweet, butter pastry is more your thing than sponge, we’ve pulled Vanessa Greenwood’s strawberry tart out of the archive for you too. It includes instructions on how to make an easy pastry cream that will be useful for all sorts of fruit tarts.
Baked New York-style cheesecake – is there any other kind, I hear you ask – is a rich and indulgent treat. The addition of a topping of glazed strawberries in Donal Skehan’s recipe brings a touch of summer freshness to the cake.
DOMINI KEMP’S STRAWBERRY CAKE
220g flour, sieved
3 tsp baking powder
180g caster sugar
180g melted butter
140ml warm milk
4 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large punnet strawberries (about 450g)
2 tbsp icing sugar
Few tablespoons of honey
Another tsp vanilla extract
1. Grease a roughly 22-centimetre spring-form cake tin. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees/gas four. Mix the flour with one teaspoon of baking powder and the sugar. Add the melted butter and milk, and whisk using an electric beater. Whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla extract.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, and add the remaining two teaspoons of baking powder. Fold this into the flour mixture, pour into the greased tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool fully.
3. Remove the hulls from the strawberries and sprinkle the berries with icing sugar. Whisk the mascarpone with the cream, honey and vanilla extract. Spread the mascarpone on top of and in the middle of the cake (which you could slice in half). Top or sandwich with the strawberries, which you could slice in half or leave whole. This cake doesn’t hold well, so make, decorate and eat on the same day.
VANESSA GREENWOOD’S STRAWBERRY TART
300g strawberries, halved
1 tbsp apricot jam
1 egg white (for brushing onto pastry case)
150g plain flour
75g butter, cold, cut into small cubes
25g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly whisked
Easy pastry cream:
3 egg yolks
55g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence (or Cointreau/Grand Marnier)
30g plain flour
1. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar. Add the egg and bring together to a smooth dough.
2. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for one hour before gently rolling out on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thickness.
3. Line a 20cm greased tart tin with the pastry. To bake the pastry blind, cover the pastry with parchment, fill with baking beans, and bake in a preheated oven (180 degrees Celsius/gas 4) for 20 minutes, before removing the beans, brushing with egg white and baking for another five minutes to seal the case.
4. For the pastry cream, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Add the vanilla and whisk in the milk.
5. Sieve together the plain flour and cornflour and whisk into the custard. Transfer the mixture to a heavy-based saucepan and heat, constantly whisking. Stand over it and keep whisking vigorously or you will burn the custard. Once it has boiled and is bubbling, remove or reduce the heat and continue whisking until it is smooth and like thick custard.
6. Transfer the custard to a bowl, press clingfilm over the top to stop a skin forming and set it aside to cool, then refrigerate it.
7. To assemble, spread pastry cream over the baked pastry case and top with strawberries.
8. Heat one tablespoon of apricot jam with one teaspoon of water and bring to the boil. Lightly brush the strawberries with the warm (not hot) apricot glaze.
DONAL SKEHAN’S NEW YORK-STYLE BAKED STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE
For the base:
300g digestive biscuits, blitzed to a fine crumb
150g butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
500g cream cheese
150g sour cream
175g caster sugar
3 large free range eggs, 1 egg yolk
Zest of half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla vanilla bean paste
For the topping:
5 tbsp strawberry jam, sieved
Juice of half a lemon
200g strawberries, hulled & halved
1. This basic baked cheesecake recipe is a keeper as it can be adapted with a wide range of different flavours when strawberries aren’t in season. Be sure to line both the base and sides of the baking tin well to allow easy release of the cheesecake, once baked.
2. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin with parchment paper on the base and sides.
3. Combine the biscuit crumbs and butter until completely mixed through. Press this mixture into the base of the cake tin. Place in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until smooth and creamy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until completely incorporated. Fold through the egg yolk, vanilla bean paste and lemon zest.
5. Pour the filling over the biscuit crumb base and smooth off the top.
6. Place the cheesecake in the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Turn off the heat and allow to cool in the oven.
7. Place the smooth strawberry jam and lemon juice in a saucepan over a medium-high heat until it comes to a gentle simmer. Cool before using to garnish the cheesecake.
8. Once the cheesecake has cooled completely, decorate with strawberries and then brush over with the strawberry jam mixture.