Summer for me has always been about enjoying strawberries. I can remember when the season was very short because you could only buy locally grown ones. Memories of watching Wimbledon Tennis with a bowl of strawberries and cream – a wonderful combination where neither lasted long enough! Well perhaps the strawberry season lasted a little longer. Now newer varieties are grown in many areas which extend the season and have a longer shelf life too. Meaning they are available in the stores for many months over the summer.
In U.K. stores they are mainly U.K. grown and here in Canada most are imported from the States, but wherever we have lived the best for me are those grown locally. Because they are not picked to travel far they tend to be left to ripen just that little bit longer which means they are sweet and full of flavour with an aroma which is always more intense. The best are those you can find being sold by the roadside outside the main towns.
A strawberry cheesecake recipe is always a must and here is my classic version. I hope you will enjoy it too.
This is a classic strawberry cheesecake. It has a sweet crumb base and a creamy cheese filling then topped with heaps of sliced strawberries and a gorgeous strawberry sauce.
Prepares: 8 servings (images show 4 servings size)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Cooling time: about 15 minutes
For the base
170g (6 oz) Graham cracker crumbs (1¼ cups) OR
170g (6 oz) plain digestive biscuits (12)*
50g (1¾ oz) sugar (¼ cup)
50g (1¾ oz) butter, melted (¼ cup)
*In North America you can buy packaged baking crumbs ready for using in desserts like cheesecakes. In the U.K. these aren’t readily available, so use plain digestive biscuits and just put them in a large plastic food bag and crush them with a rolling pin until they are broken into very small crumbs.
23cm (9 inch) springform pan or loose-bottomed pan
For the base
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas 3)
Mix the crumbs and sugar together in a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Stir to coat the crumb mixture.
Press into the pan pushing some of the crumbs up the sides to form a rim about 2cm (¾ inch) high and 1.25cm (½ in) wide.
Bake for 10 minutes then remove and leave to cool, about 20 minutes.
For the filling
Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 180°C (/350°F) gas 4.
Beat the two packets of cheese together until soft and creamy, using a food mixer or electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract one at a time, beating well between each addition until smooth. Pour into the crumb crust.
Bake for 40 minutes or until just set. Leave to cool then refrigerate while preparing the topping or until 1 hour before you want to serve the cheesecake.
For the topping
Wash, pat dry and hull the strawberries.
Set aside 170g (6 oz) (about ½ small punnet) and purée. Strain so you are left with a smooth sauce.
Melt the redcurrant jelly in a small pan over a low heat, stirring in the purée until blended together.
Remove from the heat and pour into a small serving jug. Set to one side to cool.
Slice the remaining strawberries.
No more than one hour before serving, carefully remove the cheesecake from the pan and decorate the top with the sliced strawberries.
Serve, cut into wedges and pour the strawberry sauce over.
Break enough of the sponges to fit the base of each dish.
Spoon 1 tablespoon of raspberry conserve on top of the sponge and level.
Reserve 4 raspberries and 4 strawberries for decoration. Equally divide the rest of the fruit between the four dishes, cutting the strawberries in half.
Now sprinkle ½ tablespoon of sherry over the fruit in each dish and leave while preparing the custard so the sherry can be absorbed by the fruit and sponge. At this stage it can be left for up to an hour.
Make up 1 cup of Bird’s custard according to the packet. Pour into a small jug and cover the custard with clingfilm so it does not form a skin. Leave until just cold. (I usually like to make my custard from scratch but, hey, this is supposed to be an easy, summer recipe! You could even buy a carton of ready-made custard.)
Divide the custard between the four dishes.
Whip up the cream until soft peaks form and put a dollop on top of the custard.
Half the reserved strawberries and decorate each dish with two strawberry halves and a raspberry.
225g (8 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour, plus extra for dusting (1½ cups + 1 tbsp)
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
85g (3 oz) butter, cut into small cubes (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
40g (1½ oz) caster sugar/white sugar (3 tbsp)
3 tbsp milk
14g (½ oz) melted butter (1 tbsp)
For the filling
1 pint container strawberries
small carton double cream/whipping cream
icing sugar/powdered sugar for dusting
A 20cm (8 in) sandwich tin that is 5cm (2in) deep and brushed with a little of the melted butter.
For the filling
Wash the strawberries and pat dry. Hull, then slice them lengthways and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss to coat. Put to one side for at least 1 hour to draw out the juices.
For the shortcake
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in with fingertips.
In a smaller bowl, add the egg and whisk with a fork to break up, then add the sugar and milk and mix together. Pour the mixture liberally over the dry ingredients and, using a table knife, cut through the mixture bringing it together to make a rough soft dough. With floured fingers, draw the mixture together, then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly a couple of times to smooth the surface.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces and gently pat each half out to a circle that will fit the buttered tin. With floured fingers, lift one circle of dough and lay it in the tin, gently pressing it to fit. Brush the surface of the dough liberally with the melted butter. Now place the second circle of dough on top and press gently to fit.
Bake the shortcake for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Then, using the tip of a palette knife, gently separate the two pieces of shortcake. The melted butter separating the two layers will have allowed them to remain separate.
Place the shortcake base on a serving plate. Divide the top into 8 equal slices, which will make cutting the dessert easier to serve.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
Spoon the strawberries and their juice over the base and then cover with the whipped cream. Place the 8 slices on top in exactly the order they were cut so they will fit back together.
Dust with icing sugar/powdered sugar using a small sieve and serve immediately.
Beat the butter and sugar together using an electric hand mixer or food mixer. Once the mixture is creamy, gradually beat in the egg and then the vanilla essence/extract.
Sift the remaining ingredients into the bowl and blend into the mixture using a spoon until just combined. Now gently knead by hand until a soft dough has formed.
Take the dough and roll it out on a floured surface to 0.5cm (¼ inch) thick. Then using the large cutter, cut rounds from the dough and place them onto the baking sheets/trays. Now using the smaller cutter remove the centre of half the rounds. (Don’t try to remove the centres before placing the rounds on the sheets/trays as they will become misshapen.) Keep re-rolling the leftover dough and cutting out the rounds, making sure there are an equal number of the whole rounds and cut-out rounds. There should be enough dough to make about 18 finished biscuits.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are just starting to brown. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Spread a thick layer of strawberry jam over the whole rounds and then place the cut rounds on top. Finish by dusting with icing sugarpowdered sugar. The sugar will melt on the jam but will remain on the biscuit. Store in an airtight container.
Strawberry tartlets always say summer to me. These are very light and have a sweet, crisp pastry base which is filled with a creamy custard filling and topped with glazed strawberries. Mmm…just perfect!
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Add the egg yolk, sprinkle over 1 tablespoon cold water and mix to a firm dough. Add a little more water if necessary. Wrap in cling film/wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface then use to line the tartlet tins. Prick the bases with a fork, line with parchment paper and baking beans, then cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for about 5 minutes until light golden and crisp. Leave to cool, then remove from the tins.
For the filling
Make up the custard according to the packet using 110ml/4 fl oz of milk. You want a thick custard. Cover the surface of the custard with cling film/wrap to prevent it forming a skin and leave it to become cold.
Whip the cream until stiff and then fold into the cold custard. Spoon into the tart cases.
Decorate the top with the strawberries, cutting them into halves or quarters, depending on their size.
Add a little boiling water to melt the jelly (about 1 teaspoon) and then brush over the strawberries to glaze.