Over the last fortnight we’ve seen both beautiful sunshine and spectacular lightning at Cragside as British Summer time finally arrived with a bang. Its been nearing tropical temperatures in the tea room kitchen so we’ve all been taking turns at the stove and fighting over who gets to tidy the walk in freezer.
From the menu it was our salads, sandwiches, cold drinks and delicious Doddington ice cream that have all proven very popular with the visitors during the heat wave and the intermittent torrential showers.
As for recipes for my blog there was only one choice this week and that had to be Strawberries (well it has just been Wimbledon fortnight after all!). British Strawberry season is short so we have to make the most of these delicious soft fruits while they are at their best. Strawberries are extremely versatile; perfect in everything from summer pudding to a cooling pitcher of fruity daiquiri.
Strawberry shortcake is both delicious and indulgent; yet its very simple to make. The shortbread base can be made in advance which means it’s the perfect dessert for a summer dinner party and lets face it who doesn’t love buttery shortbread, sweet strawberries and lashings of cream.
For the Shortbread base:
340g/12oz Plain Flour
340g/12oz unsalted butter, softened
115g/4oz caster sugar
1 punnet of fresh strawberries
240ml double cream
2.5ml vanilla extract
1 tsp icing sugar.
Preheat the oven to 130 degrees Celsius.
Put all the ingredients for the shortbread into a large mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer until a soft dough has formed. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 30 mins. Flour your bench then roll out the dough to approximately 1cm thick and cut into squares or rounds. Place onto a lined baking tray leaving room for the biscuits to spread.
Cook for 20 – 25 mins or until firm to the touch.
Lift the biscuits out of the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to cool completely.
Just before serving whip up the double cream with the icing sugar and vanilla extract and place into a piping bag.
Cut up the strawberries and assemble the dessert by layering first the shortcake then the cream and then strawberries. Repeat with a second layer and then finish with more cream and more strawberries. Yum!