Showing posts with label Aberdeen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aberdeen. Show all posts

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sunny Scottish Strawberry Cake

When strawberries have been in the refrigerator a while and are "past their best," I always make this strawberry cake with ground almonds. It's beautiful with a glaze or just a sprinkling of powdered sugar. 

Every summer that I am able, since the year 2000, I have visited my friend, Jacky, in Aberdeen, Scotland.  I’ve missed the occasional year and, sadly, this is my second year in a row to miss this time.  Which makes me very sad.  Despite its usually gloomy weather, even in Summer, Aberdeen is one of my favorite places because Jacky is one of those upbeat people who radiate sunshine.   We met in 1996 when we were both living in the little oilfield town Macaé, Brazil and she confessed years later that I scared her initially and she thought to herself that she could never be friends with me.  I can be a bit overwhelming at first, it’s true, but I guess I didn’t turn out to be so frightening after all.  We’ve been fast friends ever since.

Way back in the Summer of 2005, I was sitting around in Jacky’s lovely warm kitchen, reading the daily newspaper, the Aberdeen Press and Journal, or the P&J as we (almost locals) like to call it, and found this recipe.  Scottish strawberries are some of the best in the world (my other Scottish friend, Gillian, says they are THE VERY BEST and I have learned not to argue with Gillian, who can also be a little scary at first.) during their short season so we had been buying them and eating them in a frankly prodigious manner.  This recipe for strawberry cake was supposedly the answer to what to do if you have some strawberries that haven’t been eaten but were getting “past their best.”   Of course, we had to go out and buy some more to bake this cake! 

Since then, I have made it with various berries in different stages of ripeness (read: over ripeness) always with great success.  The buttery crumb of the cake, heightened by the natural richness of the almond meal is superbly and perfectly complemented by a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of cold milk.  And, if you are using berries that are slightly past their best, you can feel virtuous for not wasting them. Win-win. 

3 tablespoons plain flour (for coating baking pan)
6.35 oz or 180g ground almonds
3/4 cup or 180g soft unsalted butter
3/4 cup or 180g caster sugar
1 1/2 cups or 180g self-raising flour (or the same amount of plain flour plus a scant 2 teaspoons of baking powder and a good pinch of salt)
2 medium eggs
2 tablespoons milk
14 oz or 400g strawberries, plus a few for decoration, if you like.
(Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or a combination can be substituted for the strawberries.)
To serve: Icing or powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Spray your baking pan of choice with non-stick spray or butter it well.  Tip in the plain flour and turn the pan all around, shaking carefully to make sure that it is well-coated with flour.  This is not as important in a regular, flat baking pan where just buttering would probably work as well, but in a Bundt pan, this is essential to get the cake to come out nicely, without leaving bits stuck to the pan.

Hull your strawberries with a sharp knife by cutting into the berry just under the green hull.  Press your thumb on the knife and the hull and pull the hull out of the strawberry.  This leaves more strawberry behind to eat that cutting the whole top off would do.  

Rinse the strawberries well and let them drain. Cut the berries into smaller pieces.   Set aside.

Place all the ingredients except the strawberries in a mixer and mix to combine.

Carefully stir the cut strawberries through the batter. 

Spoon the batter into the pan, leveling off the top.  

Place the tin in the middle of the oven for an hour, checking after 40 minutes and covering with tin foil if it is getting too brown.

Remove from the oven, cool slightly then loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a serving plate.  

Serve warm or cold, decorated with extra strawberries, if desired, or sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.