Nothing Screams Summer in England like Strawberries and Cream – but not quite this way

I turned this classic on its head and then shook it around. May I present strawberry and ricotta salad

My first encounter with these sneaky berries edging over to the dark side was strawberry and black pepper sorbet at a restaurant I worked in. It was delicious and encouraged a successful attempt at cooking strawberries in balsamic vingar (for a cheesecake topping, if I remember correctly). It was on a trip to Barcelona that much to my surprise I found them in my salad!  

 
I didn’t plan this one at all. In fact, I bought the strawberries for topping angel food cupcakes (that’l be the next post folks!) but I decided to chuck a few in my bowl along with the usual suspects: leaves, cucumber, radishes, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I had some ricotta too, which os only a step away from cream really. The whole starwberries and cream thing only just occurred to me! It made a really nice change, gorgeous and summery! Some walnuts would have been perfect. Oh, and I spinkled on some fresh basil from my little basil plant which is battling away in my tiny kitchen. 

Light as a Feather Gluten Free Sponge

Genoise sponge is my go to cake recipe, its such a simple and versatile sponge. The only bad thing about it is that you could literally never stop eating it, it’s not dense or sickly sweet allowing fillings to be shown off. I love it with cream and berries, chocolate ganache, mousses, lemon drizzle, … Turn all your favourite flavoured cakes into fat free versions! Well, besides the cream of course. But this post is about my gluten free version.

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Lightest, Spongiest Banana Cake Ever

Faced with a bunch of bananas on their last legs, going squigdy and in parts even a little mouldy I decided it was time to make a banana cake.

I didn’t fancy some dense comforting banana bread full of nuts and raisins. Its the summer after all. So I set out looking for a banana chiffon cake recipe. Not any old one would do though because I don’t own a tube pan, nor does my mother who’s house I was making this cake in.

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The Most Delicious Orangey Orange Sponge Recipe

I can’t believe I just wrote this whole blog post and accidentally deleted it. How do yo regain all the enthusiasm after that? Thats a genuine question people!

And I’ve already finished the slice of cake.

It was delicious. Well, I already said that. Even after being frozen, ganache and all. This recipe was chosen for the bottom layer of the wedding cake and seeing as I made a cake for 150 guests, when there were only 34, there are lots of leftovers.

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Easy Summer Berry Genoise Sponge

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“A Genoise is a light whisked sponge cake with the addition of melted butter. It is one of the most elegant simple sponges and lends itself to layering, especially with fruit and cream.” – Annie Bell

 This was the first cake I made from Annie Bell’s Baking Bible. Funnily enough, I chose it because I had all the ingredients for this one. It wasn’t until halfway through that I realized that it had NO raising agent! I nearly peed my pants. Two minutes ago I had been scoffing at the twice sifted flour, now I wished I had sifted it three times! But I calmly decided not to panic. At least it wasn’t an expensive recipe, worst case scenario, I could put sugar and lemon on it and eat it like a pancake =)
But I pulled it off, and it has been my go to cake recipe ever since. What I love about this cake is how light it is. I’ve always had an issue with Victoria sponge as I find it kind of oily and sometimes a bit dense (ok, maybe I just never got a great one). Not this sponge! You can even leave out the measly 50g of butter and it still works fine apparently.
You can flavour it with pretty much anything,  Annie suggests a table spoon of dark rum as an alternative! Anyway, lets get on with the actual recipe.

Summer Berry Genoise Recipe

Sponge

3 Medium eggs, separated

125g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

   100g plain flour, sifted twice

   50g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

   Syrup

2 tablespoons golden syrup

   2 tablespoons rosewater

   Filling

200ml double cream  

50g icing sugar

100g raspberries

   100g strawberries, hulled and sliced

Preheat the oven to 150 ºC fan/170 ºC electric. Butter a 20cm non-stick pan, don’t line it with greaseproof. Having a removable base helps. Melt the butter and put to one side.Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, as if making meringue, sprinkle half the sugar, that’s 62g! (Don’t worry if you don’t have digital scales and the amount isn’t exact. I once poured the whole amount in at this point and then had to add another 60g for the next step and it just made a sweeter cake). Whisk to a glossy meringue Image

In another bowl, whisk the remaining sugar and egg yolks at high speed until they are really light and almost mousse like.

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That’s not enough.

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See how its grown in size? This cake is all about getting as much air as possible in it.  It’s times like these that I’m very grateful for my stand alone whisk!

At this point add the vanilla (or other flavouring like lemon zest).

A silicone spatula is good for this bit, but you could use a wooden spoon instead:Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture in two goes. Then fold in the sifted flour in two goes. And finally the melted butter. This may seem very strange, but it works! Just be careful not to beat the mixture down, yet make sure its all combined.

Pour the mixture into the tin and tap it sharply on the work surface to release any big air bubbles.

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Bake for 40mins or until lightly golden. if in doubt test the cake by pricking it with a toothpick, if it comes out clean its done =)

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As soon as the cake is out of the oven, without running a knife around the edge, gently invert the cake and tin onto a worksurface and leave to cool. This seems even more crazy than the addition of melted butter and it took me a few deep breaths the first time. Still does sometimes. Only one has fallen and it was still great. The reason for turning it upsidedown is so that it doesn’t sink when cooling.

Make the syrup by combing the golden syrup and rosewater in a bowl. Genoise is renowned for not being a sweet sponge, the syrup is what sweetens it.

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When the cake is cool, run a knife around the edge, get it out of the tin and split it in half with a bread knife. Cut side up, dribble or brush the syrup over the sponge.

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For the filling whip the cream, I left out the icing sugar, until it forms soft peaks. Add all the fruit, you can crush the raspberries slightly so the make the cream streaky and pile it on the bottom sponge, smooth it and put on the top sponge.

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And decorate! I dusted with icing sugar and dropped rose petals and strawberries on the top.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of a slice. I made this cake for a friends birthday and I can say that after a few hours in a box, under a towel, on a beach it still tasted DELICIOUS! So much so that there was no time for photos.

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I would love to hear what you have done with this recipe. How did your first genoise sponge go? What flavour combinations have you tried?