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.
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 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 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.
Pavlovas are possibly one of the most delicious things to eat, and so effortlessly pretty. It’s perfect as it is- its crisp, fragile shell, marshmallowy centre, luxurious cream and sweet-tart fruit tumbled on top. Absolutely perfect. Although I used peaches along with strawberries this time, I prefer it with just strawberries. Lucas Hollweg’s brilliant book, Good Things To Eat has a beautiful autumn version with blackberries and cinammon- what a dream. A gorgeous book with gorgeous photographs, definitely one of my favourites.
My go-t0 recipe for pavlova is from here- I’ve made it several times, and it’s flawless.