Eton mess is super delicious and one of the easiest yet impressive-looking desserts to make. It’s a summertime pudding created in Eton College and popular throughout the hot summer months in the UK, where strawberries and cream are plentiful and really, really delicious. All you need to do is mix strawberries, crushed meringues and whipped cream, and there you have it- a delightfully juicy, creamy, chewy and barely-sweet dessert. I’ve added some mascarpone to the whipped cream to give it more body and luscious creaminess and also the seeds from a vanilla bean for a sweet, aromatic vanilla flavour.
Victoria sponge, a very popular tea-time cake in the UK is usually two layers of sponge sandwiching jam and buttercream. I decided to use whipped mascarpone and LOTS of fresh raspberries, blueberries and pomegranate seeds instead of jam and buttercream as I prefer something lighter, juicier and not too sweet. Some toasted flaked almonds were scattered on top for a bit of crunch. A note to myself for the next time I make it would be to up the mascarpone filling- more cream is always welcomed!
Just last week in Biarritz, I had The Tart of My Life. It was simple; just a crumbly sablé crust, pistachio pastry cream and lots and lots of juicy, sweet raspberries- but it was so good!! I immediately set my mind to recreating the tart when I got home but got sidetracked by Michalak’s “Tarte Aux Fraises À La Crème De Pistache” from his book instead. Instead of pastry cream at the base of the tart, it’s filled with a fluffy “biscuit moelleux pistache”, which is basically a moist pistachio biscuit. The biscuit is then brushed with a fresh straberry confit then topped with strawberries, jelly, pistachio crème chantilly and a sprinkling of crushed pistachios. The recipe can be found here but I used his book (which I love!) which has lots of helpful and beautiful photos.
This is the ultimate summer biscuit- buttery biscuit, sweet peaches and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top. The recipe is Joy the Baker’s and it’s genius- there’s buttermilk in it which makes it soft and just a bit tangy and plenty of butter. The dough is very sticky but this makes the scone tender and moist when baked. I imagine it’ll be super good split in half and filled with whipped double cream..
Apricots need a bit of coaxing from heat. They’re pretty insipid and spongy/mushy when raw but roasting, jamming, or stewing concentrates their flavour and makes them very, very apricoty. I really liked the combination of rosemary and apricot so I roasted them with a few sprigs of rosemary and also some honey, sugar, Jurançon (which is SO good) and a few chunks of butter. After 24 minutes of roasting at 180°, the apricots collapse into soft, jammy sacs bursting with flavour and the liquid reduces to a thick syrup. I ate about 4 whole apricots (!) on its own.. they were just too hard to resist. I also made a goats’ cheese bavarois and almond-oat crumble to accompany the apricots but I think I’ll just eat them all on its own in the end..
This victoria sponge recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart strawberry shortcake recipe, but since I spread some jam between the layers I thought a Victoria Sponge was a more befitting name. It’s no ordinary victoria sponge- instead of light and fluffy sponge or chiffon cakes for the cake layers, this one is a marzipan-cornmeal pound cake. It isn’t very heavy and dense though, it’s still pretty fluffy and the almond flavour is so addictive and pairs very well with the jam. Atop the slick of jam on the cake is a generous layer of mascarpone cream, a cool and neutral flavour to tame down the sweetness of the cake. I topped the cakes with the tiniest and cutest English strawberries- instant kitschy cute. Almost unbearably cute..
I’ve been obsessing over my blueberry plant ever since it started to ripen, very beautifully I might add. Blue begins to marble the skin and within a day or two the entire fruit turns from green to a dusty blue, then whole bunches turn blue then the whole tree.. it’s quite exciting watching it happening! My plant was heavy with ripe fruit a few days ago so I decided it was time to pick them and bake something. There wasn’t enough for pie or a crumble so a pound cake it was. There’s also some sliced rhubarb in it, since I had two stalks that needed to be used. Rhubarb and almond go hand-in-hand so in went some marzipan into the batter, and also some cream cheese.. I replaced a bit of the flour with ground almonds and this resulted in the cake falling after it was removed from the oven, but that’s ok- it was still delicious.
For a “regular” sized loaf pan:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 stalk rhubarb, cut into 0.5-1cm chunks
170g self raising flour
20g ground almonds
160g cream cheese
40g marzipan (I used Anthon Berg 60% Almond Marzipan)
1. Grease and line a loaf tin, preheat oven to 160°.
2. Cream butter, sugar and marzipan until light and fluffy. Add egg one at a time, then add the cream cheese, vanilla and milk.
3. Fold in the flour and ground almonds.
4. Fill the tin 1/2 full and scatter the blueberries and rhubarb chunks (save some for the top), then top with the rest of the batter and place some blueberries and rhubarb on top.
5. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.
I made a simple strawberry-rhubarb jam to fill a Strawberry Shortcake/Victoria sponge. I wanted it to be quite tart so the cake wouldn’t be too sweet so I used a ratio of 80% sugar to fruit, so 800g sugar to 1kg fruit. I used about 3/4 strawberries and a quarter rhubarb, the rhubarb was just to make the flavour a little more interesting. Macerate the fruit with the sugar for 2-3 hours, then squeeze 1 whole lemon and place the squeezed lemon into the pot to boil along with the fruit until it reaches “thread-stage”. I just halved the very large strawberries and left the small ones whole because I like big chunks of fruit in my jam, but if you like it smoother, then you can chop them up smaller, of course.