Strawberry Honey Cake

A beautiful summer inspired Strawberry Honey Cake.


It was an exciting moment this week when I found the first of the British strawberries in the supermarket. I love their newly prolonged season, especially since I never get bored of a strawberry. As Spring moves into Summer the taste of the strawberries evolve meaning you get a little bit of something different as the seasons progress.

These strawberries I took home this week were sweet and juicy. It was excellent forward thinking on my part that I had picked up a couple of punnets as the first one was unashamedly eaten during the prepping stages of baking this cake.

I couldn’t help but pair this cake with honey, I have been collecting local honey from all the little farm shops and farmer’s markets I have been visiting these past few months so I have quite the larder full. I chose a light clear floral honey for the cake and baked it into the batter along with some sour cream to add density and offset the sweetness. I then topped the cake in the same way, a simple buttercream which I then imbued with more of the honey and sour cream.

Strawberry Honey Cake is a perfect teatime treat, enjoyed out in the garden with the distant sound of a lawnmower buzzing in the background. Although it did lead me to contemplate what a sorry state my garden is actually in at the moment and fret over the grassless lawn and ghostly pots of long gone plants so it wasn’t the perfect idyll.

I regret not drizzling my finished cake with honey as well before I took the photos, the idea only came to me as I was tucking into the cake afterwards. The extra drizzle really lifted the strawberries and accentuated the honey so make sure you don’t forget it like me.

Strawberry Honey Cake

A beautiful summer inspired Strawberry Honey Cake.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 513kcal

Ingredients

  • 170 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 g honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 270 g plain flour *for gluten-free see below
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 200 g sour cream
  • 150 g strawberries hulled and chopped into quarters

Honey Buttercream:

  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 165 g icing sugar
  • 50 g honey
  • 50 g sour cream
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and line and grease a 9 inch loaf tin.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until pale and fluffy
  • Add the eggs one at a time until fully combined.
  • Pour in the honey and mix well, then the vanilla extract.
  • In a separate mixing bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour to the rest of the cake batter, mixing well. Then follow with half the sour cream, mix it in then another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the sour cream then the last third of the flour. Mix until the batter has just combined.
  • Pour nearly all of the cake batter into the baking tin.
  • Puncture the batter with the chopped strawberries in a single layer before spreading on the very last of the cake batter to cover the strawberries.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 60-70 minutes. Cool the cake on a wire rack completely before icing.
  • For the honey buttercream beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Pour in the honey, sour cream and a pinch of salt and mix until completely combined.
  • Using a palette knife spread the buttercream thickly on top of the cake.
  • Decorate with strawberries and drizzled honey.

Notes

* For a gluten-free version of the cake, substitute the plain flour for a blend of:
60g sweet rice flour
45g oat flour
35g millet flour
20g potato starch
15g tapioca flour

Nutrition

Calories: 513kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 170mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 880IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 1.6mg

Red Velvet Ice Cream

This Red Velvet Ice Cream takes all the personality of a red velvet cake and rockets it into summer. Velvety, tangy with plenty of cocoa kick.

Red Velvet Ice Cream

I first tried red velvet ice cream a couple of years ago at Taste of London. It was definitely one of the most popular desserts of the day as everywhere you looked people were clutching at cones stacked high with beautifully scarlet ice cream. I don’t know what it is about red food but it just looks terrifically inviting and we immediately scouted out where people were getting their ice creams from and joined the long long queue to get our own cones. It’s just as well that I can’t remember which restaurant was offering this ice cream as when we first took our first licks it was incredibly disappointing. Stunningly tasteless.

There are a few people who will probably shrug at this as red velvet cakes often seem to be more pomp than circumstance, relying on the food colouring for effect and the only taste really deriving from the cream cheese icing that always adorns them. However, I heartily disagree for I feel that red velvet cake is one of the most subtly complex cakes, blessed with the richness of cocoa, a hint of vanilla and light and tangy with the buttermilk. If you think the cake is tasteless then you are getting your red velvets from the wrong source my friend.

So, I was thinking about this bland red velvet ice cream, and how unfortunate it is when the taste of something doesn’t marry with the beauty of it. It’s been nagging at me for a while and I have been keen to improve my experience of red velvet ice cream and give it a go myself.

So I eventually arrived at this recipe after a lot of failed attempts and can decree that this ice cream really is what red velvet ice cream should taste like. It has a creamy custard base but the quantity of buttermilk used gives the ice cream such a delicately bright flavour. However, it’s not the overriding element and the vanilla and chocolately background gives the ice cream depth and its incredible moreishness.

This ice cream is just wonderful by itself and the glorious ruby of it will pair beautifully with the colours of the season. You are taking the ice cream into another dimension though if you think of serving it with a good wodge of chocolate fudge cake, the ice cream will cut through the richness and I swear will leave you floundering for words.

Red Velvet Ice Cream

This Red Velvet Ice Cream takes all the personality of a red velvet cake and rockets it into summer. Velvety, tangy with plenty of cocoa kick.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time9 hrs 5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 398kcal

Ingredients

  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 450 ml double cream
  • 250 ml whole milk
  • 35 g cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • tablespoons red food colouring
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 300 ml buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  • Heat the caster sugar, double cream and cocoa powder in a large saucepan and bring to boil. Make sure the cocoa has completely dissolved then remove from the heat.
  • Add the vanilla extract and food colouring.
  • Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until thick, then pour in the red velvet mixture in a thin stream, whisking all the while until everything has been mixed together.
  • Pour the red custard into a bain marie, then re-heat. Bring the custard up to 85°C but do not boil.
  • As soon as it has reached the correct temperature, pour the custard into a bowl set into an ice bath and carry on whisking until the custard cools.
  • Strain the custard into a large jug and set cling film over the surface to avoid a skin forming. Place in the fridge overnight to chill.
  • The next day remove the custard from the fridge and add the buttermilk and lemon juice. Pour into your ice cream machine and churn for 20 minutes until the ice cream is a thick milkshake consistency.
  • Decant into tubs and place in the fridge overnight to finish the set.

Notes

Yield 2 pints

Nutrition

Calories: 398kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 182mg | Sodium: 80mg | Potassium: 211mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 1070IU | Vitamin C: 1.1mg | Calcium: 132mg | Iron: 0.8mg

Watermelon Mint Granita

This easy no-sugar Watermelon and Mint Granita is the ultimate heat quencher. This icy summer treat is light and refreshing and completely sugar-free.

A glass of Watermelon Mint Granita on a table in front of plants

This is not so much a recipe but an idea on how to keep cool during these times when your house has turned into a hotbox and the outside air is muggy and unrelenting. I have never been one for the summer months, they stretch out endlessly with little respite between May and September. Days when you are free to enjoy the sun are interrupted by magnificent thunderstorms and although I am not commuting into central London at the moment I am only too familiar with the unpleasant experience of sweltering temperatures, no air conditioning and thousands of fellow passengers jammed up against you on the Piccadilly line.

Glasses of Watermelon Mint Granita on a table in front of plants

In our humid house the nights have been terribly uncomfortable lately and sleep has been infrequent with the electric fan constantly jarring any slumber. During the day I have become accustomed to lugging said fan with me from room to room and kitchen prep has been made challenging with its overbearing gustiness spraying caster sugar sandstorms across the floor.

Cubes of watermelon

So, suffice to say I never champion these heat waves as much as I’m supposed to. At the moment I am desperate to find ways to chill out, I am not so easily sated as the puppy is by dancing in the stream of the garden hose; but that is where this no-sugar Watermelon Mint Granita comes in. There is something so refreshing about sweet luscious watermelons anyway, then when it is jazzed up with a bit of garden mint the flavour sparkles. There is absolutely no need for sugar in this recipe as the watermelons are so rich and sweet this time of year that on these hot sticky days the simple fruit is all you need.

Watermelon Mint Granita in the blender

There is no more effort to this than simply blitzing the fruit and mint in the blender and popping the juice in the freezer. Although for such a casual recipe you do need to hang about the freezer for a couple of hours, giving it nudge every so often to break up the icy crystals during the freeze. It’s incredibly worthwhile though as the results instantly temper any inner heat and it’s sweetly moreish to boot. If you don’t want to eat it straightaway then once it has reached the right consistency you can just keep it in the freezer, but it will need to stand for about 10-15 minutes out of the freezer to become loose enough to portion out, unless you have an ice pick knocking around to help you out.

A tray of Watermelon Mint Granita

I have to say though, the one thing I do appreciate about the summertime is the amount of daylight we have. The ability to lounge in the garden all evening long seems so luxurious and when this time of day comes I add a slug of rum to transform my granita into a proper grown up slush puppy; a perfect way to usher in the hot and hazy nights.

A glass of Watermelon Mint Granita on a table in front of plants

Watermelon Mint Granita

Easy no-sugar Watermelon and Mint Granita is the ultimate heat quencher. This icy summer treat is light and refreshing and completely sugar-free.
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 56kcal

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg watermelon
  • Small handful of fresh mint leaves

Instructions

  • Remove the seeds from the watermelon and then blitz the flesh in a blender.
  • Add the mint leaves and blend again.
  • Pour the juice into a deep baking tray.
  • Place into the freezer for 40 minutes, then remove it and with a fork break up all the ice crystals.
  • Place back into the freezer for 30 minutes and once again, remove and break up the ice crystals with a fork.
  • Repeat this a further 3-4 times until the watermelon has formed easy to move sweet icy snow.

Nutrition

Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 210mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1065IU | Vitamin C: 15.2mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.5mg

SHOP THE RECIPE

To blend up the watermelon and mint in the recipe I used my trusty Vitamix® Pro750 Food Blender, Copper UK Model. It’s one of my most favourite kitchen appliances and I use it almost daily. This blender is amazing! I loved the Kitchenaid blender I had before but my Vitamix produces the smoothest smoothies, most cohesive sauces and fantastic soups. I have been using it most frequently at the moment for making my iced matcha lattes and I now could not be without it. Okay, it isn’t cheap but if you have the budget for it and you are looking to be really spoilt then I really recommend it. Plus I love the colour!!

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Homemade Pimms

Nothing brings in summer like a cool refreshing glass of Pimms. This Homemade Pimms is delicious and great fun to have a bash at.

Homemade Pimms

Last week I had a helluva time fine tuning my Homemade Pimms recipe let me tell you. Exhausting taste testings were happening at all hours of the day just so I could get the recipe extra right. It was essential that these taste testings happened in the garden as well, when the sun was just so, to guarantee the drink would work perfectly in an authentic environment. Even when I was ultra sure that the balance of sweetness from my cucumber, lemon verbena and mint syrup was exactly correct and the blend of the gin, vermouth, orange curacao and aperol complimented each other impeccably, well, then started the road testing of all the mixers. I cannot tell a lie, it was a very trying week, and did not at all involve getting terribly merry in the middle of the working week for kicks. It was extremely hard work. You can thank me later.

Homemade Pimms

Pimms is the best-known brand of summer fruit cup and it has become synonymous with the cocktail. It was invented in 1823 by James Pimm at The Oyster Bay in Lombard Street, London and was the first mass-produced summer fruit cup. Before then pubs and households just used to make their own blend, consisting of an alcohol base, usually gin, infused with herb and fruit extracts, then topped with a mixer to create a long drink. These days we are completely reliant on trusty old Pimms to herald our barbecues, sports days and of course Wimbledon, and why not, it’s a best seller for a reason.

Homemade Pimms

It has been very important for me to get a good homemade version of the summer cup on the go. It’s absolutely quintessential this time of year and should you run out mid-barbecue it can incite riots amongst even the most polite members of middle England. A social gathering throughout the months of May-September would not be worthy of this country should Pimms not be involved and the great thing about it is how healthy it is. You should stuff as much fruit into your huge plastic jugs as you possibly can as then it has the added benefit of counting as part of your five a day, and that’s not even being facetious, like when you’re swigging back the sunny d and claiming it’s all for the greater good. In the early 1800s when summer cups were at the most popular they were sold as having health benefits, and I don’t see why we need to quibble, they all lived to a ripe old age back then didn’t they?

Homemade Pimms

Making your own Pimms is extremely easy; it begins with an infused sugar syrup. All you need to do is add equal quantities of sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved, then tuck in mint leaves, lemon verbena and cucumber, which are the quintessential flavours to a summer cup. Simmer for a couple of minutes then take off the heat to infuse for an hour or so. This sugar syrup is then the base to which you add the alcohol, it just takes the edge of the potent concoction and sparks up notes of summer before you have even mixed it with all the fruit. The recipe for the syrup below is slightly too much for the amount of summer cup I made, I would have reduced the quantities for you, but making extra is a huge boon as I have been experimenting with this syrup in my drinks left, right and centre. It turns out it is pretty versatile, but the most successful use of it has been drizzling a bit in the bottom of a glass of prosecco to make the most summery bellini you could ever imagine. It’s definitely worth making the syrup for this purpose alone.

I didn’t want my Pimms to be as sweet as the commercial stuff so I was a bit restrained when adding the sugar syrup. I also achieved a more personal blend by adding a splosh more gin that a traditional recipe might include and also a little spritz of aperol which just grabs you just at the end.

Homemade Pimms

Now, the main issue I have when drinking Pimms out and about is not the drink itself but the mixer that it generally paired with – commercial lemonade. It’s just too sweet for me and I can usually just about manage a whole glass before I’m done. I much prefer the taste of the other traditional mixer, ginger ale, but even that can be a bit sweet towards the end of the glass, particularly when you have reached the booze soaked strawberries. After my trials and tribulations going through all the mixers last week I had two absolute standouts. My preferred mixer was half ginger ale (preferably Fever tree) and half tonic water (ditto). Or, my personal favourite, if you want to go completely off piste, was when I paired the summer cup with iced tea. For me, it had the perfect levels of sweetness and refreshing vitality. I find the best ratio of any of your preferred mixer is 1 part summer cup to 3 parts mixer.

The final step is to make a huge jug of the stuff, fill with ice and a fruit salad of your choice, but the absolute necessities to include are cucumber, strawberries and fresh mint. The latter of which you must leave whole, there is nothing worse that picking bits of chopped mint out of your teeth when you’re trying to have a civilised conversation. Although feel free to add any other fruit you fancy as anything else is just fruity gravy.

Homemade Pimms

I urge you to experiment with your own summer cup this summer and you’ll grow even more fond of this most cherished British summertime tradition.

Homemade Pimms

Nothing brings in summer like a cool refreshing glass of Pimms. This homemade version is delicious and great fun to have a bash at.
Prep Time20 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: British
Servings: 3 servings
Calories: 590kcal

Ingredients

For the cucumber mint syrup:

  • 250 ml water
  • 250 ml white sugar
  • ½ cucumber
  • tiny handful lemon verbena
  • 2 sprigs apple mint

For the Pimms:

  • 300 ml Gin
  • 200 ml Red Vermouth Martini Rosso
  • 100 ml Orange Curacao Triple Sec
  • 1 tbsp Aperol
  • 200 ml summer cup syrup

For mixing:

  • Either lemonade, ginger ale, tonic water or iced tea

For serving:

  • Strawberries, mint leaves and cucumber
  • Slices of orange, apple, lemon and other fruits are optional

Instructions

  • To make the syrup, heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Add the other ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside the saucepan to cool and the flavours to infuse for 1-2 hours. Strain then decant the syrup into a jar, you won’t need all of it for the recipe.
  • Mix 200ml of the syrup with the alcohol, stirring it all together well. Decant into a jar until you are ready to drink it.
  • Make up with 1 part summer cup to 3 parts mixer, plenty of ice and lots of mint, cucumber and chopped fruit.
  • The summer cup will keep happily in your drinks cabinet for the whole of the summer, not that mine lasted the week.

Nutrition

Calories: 590kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 68mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 1.6mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Roasted Peppers Preserved with Garlic and Chilli

Roasted Peppers preserved with Garlic and Chilli
Now that we have had a couple of days of sunshine in a row it is tempting to start thinking about summer flavours. If you haven’t already had a barbecue then I’m sure you’ll find one will be on the horizon shortly. We’ll have to clean the rust off our garden furniture and brush up on our salad dressing skills to lead the charge into the warmer months of our temperamental British summertime.

Spending all day in the kitchen when the weather outside is so inviting requires dedication so it helps to have a few storecupboard ingredients on hand to speed up everyday cooking. I have my usual armoury of bacon salt always within reach but at the moment I am using these roasted peppers preserved with garlic and chilli to add an alternative background note to most things I am sending out of my kitchen.

peppers

Peppers

Grilled Peppers

I always find peppers from the supermarket more expensive than you expect, but I am so lucky that I live near Green Lanes with its abundance of Turkish grocers where magnificent shiny peppers are ten a penny. All that is required is a few lazy bank holiday hours grilling, peeling and canning these slippery little fellows and you will reap the benefit for weeks afterwards. I have been using them either as a main salad ingredient but also chopped up very fine and used as a base for a dressing with a dash of lemon and olive oil. You can whizz a couple up in the blender and streak gloriously though a dull houmous or use as a condiment, adding a shimmering tablespoon to pep up tomato sauces.

You can eat these straightaway but they will have a sharpness due to the vinegar. I rather like this effect as in small amounts it will happily balance out a salad. However, over a few weeks the vinegar will mellow slightly meaning that as you finish off one jar after another the flavour will evolve and so will your uses for this staple summer ingredient.

Roasted Peppers preserved with Garlic and Chilli  |  Stroud Green Larder

Roasted Peppers Preserved with Garlic and Chilli
Makes about 3 jars of 500g
Adapted from Liana Krissoff’s Canning For A New Generation

2 kg mixed yellow and red peppers, about 10
250ml lemon juice, about 6-7
500ml white wine vinegar
250ml extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ red chilli, sliced into rings
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp paprika

  1. Quarter the peppers lengthways and remove the seeds. Place on a grill under a high heat and grill in batches, skin side up, until the skin has completely blackened.
  2. Remove the peppers from the grill and immediately place in a plastic food bag or a bowl covered with cling film. After about 10 minutes the peppers will have cooled and the skin softened so the skin is easy to peel off. Peel off the skin, do not wash the peppers. Place the peppers in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Pour the lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil into a large saucepan along with the rest of the ingredients. Bring until just under a boil, then remove from the heat.
  4. Prepare a hot waterbath by placing a trivet on the bottom of a large preserving pan. Fill the pan with water and bring to a heavy rolling boil. The water needs to be enough to cover the jars you are using by 1 inch. Once the water reaches 80°C it is ready. Place the preserving jars you are using in the waterbath for 5-10 minutes to sterilise. You can sterilise the lids by putting them in a smaller saucepan with some of the water siphoned off from the waterbath.
  5. Remove the jars from the waterbath with a jar lifter.
  6. Stuff the peppers into the hot jars and then top up with the hot lemon, vinegar and oil mixture leaving ½ inch headroom at the top. Make sure each jar has plenty of garlic and chilli. De-bubble the jars by jostling the contents with a chopstick. Screw the lids on, then unscrew by a smidge so there is room for the air to escape.
  7. Carefully place the jars in the waterbath, making sure the water still covers the jars by 1 inch. Place the lid on the bubbling waterbath and leave for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the jars carefully from the waterbath and leave to cool overnight without disturbing.
  9. The next day check that the jars have sealed correctly by making sure the lids haven’t popped up, or if using jars with rubber seals make sure the rubber seal doesn’t slide around. If any of the jars haven’t sealed correctly then put in the fridge and eat within 3 days.
  10. If the jars have sealed then leave in a cool place for storage, then open and eat at your leisure.

Roasted Peppers Preserved With Garlic and Chilli  |  Stroud Green Larder