A Wee Sponge Cake with Tennessee Strawberries and Whipped Cream

 

Does this cake look gigantic to you? I thought so. Well it is really just 6 inches across….really. A wee, dramatic “Tennessee Strawberry Sponge Cake with Whipped Cream”.  A cake that is just enough to serve 6 people, or 2 people for 3 days…or maybe even 1 person for 6 days. Any way you slice it, this cake is easy to make, adorable and scrumptious.

I posted a “Victoria Sponge and Strawberries” as well as a “Ruby Red Victoria Sponge Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling” cake recipes a few years ago. They are larger cakes…..this is the “little sister” cake. If you wander over to those recipes you will find out a bit more about the history of the Victoria Sponge which is a good cake to make this week to celebrate summer, strawberries and the Big Wedding in London.

Later this year there will be a cookbook arriving on the dessert scene that features small cakes. “little everyday cakes” by Candace Floyd, published by Spring House Press.  My wee cake is inspired by Candace’s upcoming book. I was lucky and pleased to be asked to work on styling the cakes for this book. It’ll be out in October,  but if you want you can pre-order via Amazon.

Maybe we shouldn’t deny ourselves cake,  but just go smaller.

If a 10″ springform pan went on a diet this is what they would look like. These are my favorite 6″ springform cake pans from Fat Daddio’s.

Layers baked and split into 4, cream whipped fluffy, local strawberries macerated with a bit of raw sugar….that’s all.

Local berries will go quickly…make it now.

A Wee Sponge Cake with Tennessee Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Special Tools:  Two six inch cake pans, preferably springform as they are easier to get layers out of..but whatever you have that size.

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 cup self-rising flour, sifted
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar or powdered sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • coconut oil spray for greasing cake pans
  • 2 to 3 pints of fresh, early summer strawberries, tops removed and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 2 pints of heavy whipping cream
  • powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray cake pans with coconut oil spray. This will actually add a nice subtle flavor to cakes. Set aside.
  2. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until creamy and pale.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff.
  4. Whisk the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
  5. Working a little bit at a time, fold the flour into the egg mixture using a large spoon until  blended. Fold in the sea salt.
  6. Scrape batter into cake pans. Bake for about 20 minutes until cakes are done in the middle. Let cool for a few minutes in the pans and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. While cake layers are baking, toss together the berries and the raw sugar.  If some berries are large then cut in half or into quarters. Set aside, in a smaller bowl, about 1/2 cup of the berries.
  8. Using a fork or potato masher, lightly crush remaining sugared berries just a bit. Let sit for about 30 minutes while cakes are baking and cooling.
  9. When cakes are totally cooled, split each layer into two thinner layers to make four.
  10. Whip cream to soft peaks.
  11. To assemble cake place one layer on a serving plate and cover with a third of the berries and juices and top berries with a third of the whipped cream. Repeat with next two layers and topping off with the fourth layer. Add the smaller bowl of berries, not crushed, on top of the cake. Chill for 1 hour before serving. The berry juice will soak into the cake layers somewhat and make for a delicious dessert. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving. If you happen to have any “sad” leftovers…then cover and chill cake up to 2 days.

Dragon Fruit, Strawberry and Rose’ Popsicles

Frozen cubes of Dragon Fruit and fresh strawberries, a bit of sugar and a generous amount  of Rose’ wine all blended together and frozen in my popsicle molds might just be the best hot summer cooler (adults only) you can find. Sophisticated yet homey. Deliciously cold and yummy.

My first encounters with dragon fruit were in Mexico and Malaysia. You see them everywhere in fresh markets. They are stunningly exotic and beautiful and absolutely delicious. Sometimes they are white inside and sometimes red with tiny black seeds. There are even yellow dragon fruits. The real name is “pitaya or pitahaya” and is the fruit of a cactus. They are indigenous to Central and South America as well as Asia.

Every now and then I see Dragon Fruit in a supermarket or one of our international markets.  Whenever I buy a fresh one, allowing it to ripen, they are never very tasty. I don’t wait long enough or I wait too long and the result is disappointing. I’ll keep trying. These frozen cubes of dragon fruit I found at Publix.

Use very chilled Rose’ and strawberries.

I bought these metal popsicle molds a few years ago via Amazon and have used them often.

Don’t you feel more refreshed just looking at these? Make a few….sit outside on a hot summer evening and enjoy your “Dragon Fruit and Strawberry Rose’ Popsicle”. Stay cool y’all.

Dragon Fruit, Strawberry and Rose' Popsicles

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cups frozen dragon fruit cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced ripe chilled strawberries
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar (taste and adjust liquid before freezing)
  • 1 cup chilled Rose’ wine

Directions:

  1. Put ingredients in a blender and blend until totally smooth. Taste and adjust sugar if need be.
  2. Pour liquid into popsicle molds about 3/4 full and insert sticks.
  3. Freeze all day or overnight. Enjoy.

Teresa Blackburn    www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

When a Shrub is not A Bush! – Drinkable Strawberry Shrub, E.A.T. #16

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I am always amazed why it takes me so long to get around to trying something that I have known about for so long.  I have read about “shrub”drinks over the years, but had no idea how easy they are to make and how zesty & wonderful they taste, especially if you are a fan of vinegar drinks.

Before bottled colas & other sugary drinks became a ubiquitous part of our cultural landscape people made vinegar based fruit drinks commonly called “shrubs”. Mixed with carbonated water, Prosecco or even a Belgium Lambic beer results in one perfect warm weather cooler. I tried all three and found each deliciously appealing.

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A few simple ingredients are all you need to make your own bottle(s) of shrub to keep in the refrigerator chilled and ready to enjoy.  Fresh berries or other fruit, sugar, white wine, red wine & balsamic vinegars….simple and inexpensive.

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If you are a fan of kombucha, then I think you will find this recipe for strawberry shrub a new and interesting way to get your vinegar based drink fix. It truly is as “easy as this”! Give it a try,  let me know what you think.

Strawberry Shrub Drink

  • Difficulty: easyasthis
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Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs fresh, sweet strawberries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches), wash, hulled & chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, dark or white
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups red wine vinegar

 

Directions:

  1. Mix fruit and sugar in a bowl. Crush berries with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon. Cover for 1 hour or chilled overnight allowing fruit and sugar to meld and juices to be released from the fruit.
  2. Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, pressing the fruit to get out all the flavorful juice.
  3. Add balsamic, white wine and red wine vinegars to the strained juice. Store “shrub” in a lidded glass jar chilled until ready to use.
  4. For Mocktails put some of the shrub in a glass with ice and top with fizzy water. For Cocktails mix with Prosecco or a Peach Lambic Beer. Add a squeeze of lime or orange if desired. Adjust the amount of the shrub depending on your particular taste. I enjoy a very zesty drink with lots of that full-bodied fruit vinegar flavor. Experiment to come up with you own combinations.

Teresa Blackburn Food Styling

So Long Summer Salad – Watermelon, Radishes, Tomatoes & Strawberries

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This is probably it…the last great watermelon until next summer…crisp little colorful radishes, a handful of strawberries that taste like strawberries and meaty baby Roma tomatoes…my So Long Summer Salad. Bye bye for now…see you later…Sayanora sweet friends.

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All cut up in a bowl…..

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drizzled with this sublime Apple Balsamic Vinegar.

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Tossed and chilled. Cold, crunchy, sweet and savory. Delicious piled on a bed of peppery arugula alongside a grilled steak. So long summer…it’s been good to know ya…

The Del McCoury Band – So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You

So Long Summer Salad with Watermelon, Radishes, Tomatoes and Strawberries

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of fresh watermelon cubes
  • 4 small radishes thinly slices
  • a handful of baby Roma, cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • ripe, juicy strawberries, capped & cut in half lengthwise
  • Apple Balsamic Vinegar (or Orange Balsamic or other fruit flavored Balsamic vinegar)
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Put all the fruit in a large mixing or serving bowl. Drizzle with 2 or 3 tablespoons of the Apple Balsamic vinegar. Toss fruit to coat with vinegar. Chill covered for about 20 minutes.
  2. Right before serving, drizzle with additional vinegar, salt & black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Teresa Blackburn      www.foodonfifth.com       http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

A Mother’s Day Tennessee Strawberry Tart

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This week they arrived, plump, sweet and plentiful. Those small, round baby berries. Tennessee Strawberries. Just in time for Mother’s Day. I made this tart with the first ones I purchased after eating half the carton one-by-one.

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I have never been a big fan of cooked strawberries as in strawberry pie or strawberry cobblers. Something about the berries becoming “mushy” during the cooking process just doesn’t appeal to my palate. This tart is different. The berries stay firm and keep their color, they do not get mushy nor discolored.  It has a wonderful crispy crust that doesn’t get soggy on the bottom. With only a few ingredients it is quick and easy, beautifully rustic and will just make you, or your mother, very happy bite-by-bite.

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This is what a really fresh, ripe, just picked locally grown Tennessee Strawberry looks like up close. Not perfect, not dark red and very red inside as well as outside. They are fragrant. Here are some places you can go and pick your own berries in Middle Tennessee if you like. I am pretty happy to let others do the picking for me. These berries came from the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market.

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Sliced strawberries &almonds mixed in with sugar and cornstarch is the easiest filling.

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Four ingredients is all that is needed for this crust. If you are in a big hurry you can, of course, use a refrigerator roll-out dough. In a food processor my crust takes about 5 minutes to make. Give it a try.

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Warm from the oven…..

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….come on…get a bit closer…let’s have a bite. Share some with your Mom, or someone else’s Mom. Make this while the local strawberries are available…it is a fleeting season.

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Tennessee Strawberry Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Strawberry Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour mixed with 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp + 1/4 cup raw sugar divided
  • 4 Tbsp ice water
  • 2 cups rinsed, hulled & halved small strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Sanding sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. For this easy crust just put butter, flour-salt mixture & 1 Tbsp of the raw sugar in a food processor and pulse just until mixture is blended. Drizzle in ice water while pulsing mixture until a dough ball forms. Remove dough from processor, form into a ball and flatten. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
  2. Place halved berries and sliced almonds in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch & remaining 1/4 cup raw sugar over & gently toss to coat berries. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Roll chilled dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper into a rough circle about 15″ across.
  5. Lift dough lined parchment paper and place on a sheet pan. It is okay if the dough hangs over the edges.
  6. Pile strawberry filling in the middle of the dough circle and gently fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Brush dough with the beaten egg & sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  7. Bake tart for about 40 -50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbly. Remove from oven & cool tart on pan set on a cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature. This tart was very good for a few days and the bottom crust never got soggy!

(Recipe is based on one that I did for an editorial client earlier this Spring for a photo shoot. I, of course, made a number of changes to make it more user-friendly.)

Ruby Red Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling

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I like to make things. I’m pretty sure that is one of the reasons I ended up being a food stylist by trade and a jack-of-all-trades by nature. Making “beauty” is really what all my
“making” obsessions are about. Beauty that is organic & natural, beauty to look at, beauty to use every day, beauty that you can eat, beauty that is often an ode to times past, times in the future, or times that never were.

Such is this cake. A riff on the classic “Victoria Sponge Cake”, an ode to a time of lawn parties, women strolling across green parks in white dresses, croquet games where men wore bowler hats & seersucker suits. To a time when cakes were special, beautiful and meaningful.

Here is how you make my “Ruby Red Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling”

Shopping list: 2 pints of small strawberries, 1 pint of whipping cream, 1 carton of mascarpone cheese, 1 lemon, super-fine sugar or regular granulated sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, self-rising flour, 5 eggs, salt, parchment paper, oil to grease pans

Make it:

1. Preferably use local Spring strawberries, (these ruby red beauties came from the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market), 2 pints rinsed & drained, caps removed. Leave berries whole unless they are large, then cut in half. Set aside.

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2. To make this very easy sponge-cake you will need 5 large eggs separated, 3/4 cup superfine sugar (if you don’t have then pulse regular granulated sugar in a food processor for a few seconds to make your own), 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour sifted with a pinch of salt.

3. Grease & line two 8 or 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Grease the paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Whisk egg yolks & sugar together until a pale yellow.  Using a stand or hand mixer whip egg whites until stiff.  Whisk egg whites into yolks. Gently sprinkle sifted flour over eggs in batches and fold into eggs using a large metal spoon until all the flour is mixed in.

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5. Divide batter between two prepared pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cake layers are light golden brown  & cooked in the middle. Remove from pans to cool completely on wire racks.

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6. Mix 1 cup or container of marcarpone cheese, which is slightly sweet,  with the juice & zest of half a lemon. Blend well.

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8. Place one cooled cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread lemon mascarpone on top. Arrange half the berries over &  gently press them into the cheese. Dust with a bit of powdered sugar.

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9.  Top layer of berries with the second cake layer. Whip one cup of heavy cream with 2 tbsp powdered sugar & 1 tbsp vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of second cake layer. Top whipped cream with the remaining berries. Dust with additional powdered sugar if desired.

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11. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.  I made this cake from start to finish in 1 hour. It keeps well lightly covered for a day or two in the fridge.

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Notice the texture of the cake….very sponge-like!

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Making this cake will create a sense of well-being, make you think about the historical context of baking cakes, allow you to use fresh, local, just picked strawberries that taste like berries should.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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“Strawberries Fresh Picked & Put Up!” E.A.T. #3

Do you suffer from fear of canning? When you hear the words “water bath” do you shudder?

Hold on! Help is on its way…there is more than one way to overcome your fear, your trepidation, your absolute mind block about “canning”…come, I will share with you my fool-proof method to overcome your suffering as part of my E.A.T. (easy as that) series.

“E.A.T. #3  Fresh Picked Strawberries – Put Up”

My Grandmother, on my Father’s side of the family, Kenny Mae,  called it “putting up”…as in “we are going to put up some strawberries this morning” or “it’s about time to put up some beans”. So let’s forget the word “canning” for a bit…but we will come back to that a bit later this summer…for now I will share with you my “easy as that” method to “put up” fresh picked strawberries that will calm the fearful,  instill confidence in those who doubt, and give the uncertain certainty.

This April has given us an early bumper crop of Strawberries here in middle Tennessee. We are lucky in that the weather has smiled on us, but the moment will be fleeting as the days get hotter and drier.

At our house at this time Wouter & I  eat fresh strawberries every day. We go to the Farmer’s Markets and try berries from different counties around us. We eat them rinsed just out of the container, we eat them on crusty toasted bread with butter…(Wouter says that is the classic Dutch way to eat Spring strawberries)…we put them in all of our dinner salads, on granola for breakfast and in drinks.

Here is how to “put-up” strawberries to enjoy later in the year.

What you will need:

4 quarts of fresh picked strawberries, rinsed & drained

Turbinado or Raw Sugar, 3/4 cup

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or other interesting fruity vinegar

Glass jars & lids that have been washed in soapy water, rinsed & air-dried

What to do?…it’s e.a.t. !

1. Cap berries. That means take off the green tops & discard. If strawberries are large then cut in half, if small then leave whole. Put all capped berries in a large bowl. Every so often sprinkle a layer of the berries with a few tablespoons of the sugar. Repeat until all berries are capped & sprinkled with sugar. Allow berries to sit for at least 15 minutes.

2. Using a fork smash berries to release juices. Don’t try to smash all the berries, just about half of them.

3. Stir in 2 tablespoons of balsamic or other fruity vinegar.

4. Fill glass jars with strawberries &  juice, leaving about 3/4 of an inch of each jar unfilled. (We are going to put the jars in the freezer. Freezing will make the mixture expand.)

5. Put lids on jars snuggly. Place in freezer until you are ready to use for some fabulous treat.

There…now that wasn’t so hard was it? Berries “put up” using this method is the first step to getting over your “fear of canning”. It is a baby step in the world of canning, but a big step for someone like me who just started canning about 2 years ago. This is how I got started. I don’t have a very large freezer so I have to mix this method with the more traditional (water bath) method for some of my goodies.  Freezing berries keeps their wonderful color and flavor. They will still be savory enough for salad dressing, yet sweet enough for desserts.

Let me know if you have questions…My little email hotline is open. Just get in touch:

teresablackburn1@mac.com

I am here for you. Start out with just a few jars…jump in, don’t be afraid.

A little gallery of how we eat fresh berries & use some of our frozen berries:

Fresh strawberries, no sugar on toasted bread with Kerrygold butter for breakfast.
More fresh berries with turbinado smashed on more toast with butter for lunch.
Nestled in salad greens from our garden & fresh Mozzarella from Lazzaroli’s in Nashville.
I folded some berries into a pint of vanilla ice cream…to make “faux” Strawberry Ice Cream.
Eaten natural.
Strawberry Aqua Fresca..partially frozen berries, fresh lime juice, honey & water blended.