Sunday, June 18, 2006


Ok, this post is a little long in coming. I love the end of spring because it marks the start of strawberry season. It's an event that I look forward to all winter and one that I fervently celebrate when it arrives. To me, it also marks the beginning of fruit picking season.

Granted, with the cost of fuel being what it is, pick-your-own fruit is not nearly as economical as it once was. But if you gather a number of people and split the cost of gas, driving out to pick your own strawberries is still a viable option. And the quality of the fruit that you get is just incomparable to what you would find at the grocery store. My favorite part of it all is that you don't have to pay for the fruit that you pick and eat.

I like to go to Larriland Farms near Woodbine, MD. It features strawberries, tart and sweet cherries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, apples and any number of vegetables throughout the summer. I only managed to go strawberry picking once this summer with one of my roommates, a colleague and friend. But, boy, did we do some damage. We picked 15 pounds of strawberries which ended up costing us $30. Not bad for an afternoon's work.

What, you ask, does one do with 15 pounds of strawberries? Well, between my roommate and I, we made 2 strawberry trifles, a strawberries and cream cake, a strawberry salad, strawberry muffins, and strawberry preserves. We ate a lot of them plain and the rest we froze to make strawberry daiquiris.

Here is my recipe for a strawberry trifle:

I start with a sponge cake recipe from Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups self-rising cake flour*
2 tbs cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I buttered and floured 2 9-inch cake pans. I sifted together the flour, cornstarch and baking powder.

Next, I creamed the butter and sugar and added the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time. Then I folded in the flour mixture. And finally, I added the milk. I divided the batter evenly between the two pans and baked them for 25 minutes.

For the cream filling, I used another recipe from Nigella's book:
1/2 cups plus 2 tbs brandy
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups whole milk
1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
8 large eggs yolks
1/4 cup sugar

I started out by boiling the brandy with the vanilla extract for 2 minutes and then turning off the heat. Then, I warmed the milk and cream in a saucepan. Next, I mixed together the egg yolks and sugar and gradually beat in the warmed milk. I washed the saucepan and strained the milk and egg mixture back into it. I then cooked the mixture over a medium heat, whisking it until it thickened.

I thought that the sauce would thicken to a pastry cream consistency and kept cooking it until it started to separate. At which point, I had to dunk the pan into an ice-water bath and whisk the mixture until it came back together. The mixture only thickens to a sauce-like consistency. After it thickened, I took the pan off the heat and let it cool.

While I waited for the sauce to cool, I took 6 cups of strawberries, washed and hulled them and cut them into quarters. I took 1/3 of the cut strawberries and crushed them with 2 tbs of sugar and then mixed in the rest of the berries.

Then I started to assemble the trifle:

I took one of the sponge cakes and put it in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Then I spread a layer of strawberry jam and a layer of the cut strawberries on top and a layer of the sauce on top of that. Next, I layered on the other sponge cake and more jam and more berries and the rest of the sauce. I then covered and refrigerated the trifle overnight.

When I served it, it was almost a pudding consistency. I spooned it onto plates and added a dollop of whipped cream.**

* I normally don't have self-rising cake flour on hand. Instead, I use this substitution:
7/8 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbs corn starch
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

** I made 2 attempts at this trifle and the recipe, I felt was an amalgum of the 2 for the best results. The different varieties of trifles one can make is only limited by imagination. I did a combination strawberries and blueberries that was also divine.


Post a Comment

<< Home