Monday, 4 June 2012

Swiss Wild Strawberry and Walnut Cake

Recipe Number Two Hundred:  Page 169.

Wow – I have finally reached my 200th recipe! I think it is safe to say that I have made a LOT of cake in the last year and a bit. No wonder my hips have expanded; I'm not sure I can blame the size of my stomach entirely on pregnancy! As I contemplated which recipe I should choose I really did feel a sense of achievement. In a few months my challenge will be complete – I'm so close to the finishing line!

Of course, this weekend we have been celebrating the Queen's diamond jubilee. It is such a momentous occasion. I wanted to choose a recipe which complimented this very special long weekend. I didn't have much choice as there are so few recipes left. However, I finally settled on this strawberry cake. The word Swiss is in the title, but I consider anything which contains strawberries and cream to be quintessentially British! It makes me think of long summer days and watching endless tennis matches on TV. It ticked all the boxes as far as I was concerned!

After cooking and then eating a gigantic roast dinner for lunch we found refuge on the sofa. We just about found the energy to locate the TV remote. With groaning waistbands we watched the Queen's Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames. Despite the driving rain it was still enjoyable to watch. However, I did feel sorry for the choir with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. They sang gallantly, with their sodden hair plastered to their faces and clothes stuck to their skin. Eventually I managed to drag myself away from the nautical spectacle to begin baking.

After greasing and lining my deep round tin, I dug a mixing bowl out from the cupboard. I was about to make a fatless sponge. This would require me to whisk the eggs and sugar together for a very long time. I have learnt through experience that there is little point in attempting such a recipe without the aid of an electric whisk. However, if you are looking for a challenge or have bulging biceps, then you might want to risk the hand whisk!!! Even with the electric version turned to a high speed, it still took about four minutes until the mixture had doubled in volume and developed a thick mousse like consistency. Once this had been achieved I could sift in a small amount of self-raising flour, swiftly followed by the chopped walnuts. I wasn't very impressed with my brand new packet of walnuts – most of them were soft and didn't look very appetising. It took me a while to pick out the best ones! I carefully folded the flour and nuts into the thick mixture. Now it was time to pour the mixture into the awaiting tin, and then place it into the oven where it would stay for just over half an hour. Time to return to the sofa!

I never really expect any fatless sponges I make to rise, so I was surprised as well as relieved when I took the well risen cake from the oven. Unfortunately it was a right pain to extract from the tin, so my relief soon turned to annoyance. After some frantic shaking, the cake finally fell onto the wire rack; thankfully it stayed in one piece. Once it was cold, I gingerly sliced the cake into three layers. I must be getting braver, as normally I would have asked Neil for help! Now it was time for the cream and strawberries. Isaac's little eyes lit up at the mere mention of the word and he felt the need to follow me the fridge. I couldn't resist offering him a few. You'd have thought I'd given him a brand new train set by his reaction – he was ecstatic! I should point out that I was forced to use 'normal' strawberries. We couldn't find any wild ones in the supermarket. I couldn't see that it would make too much difference!

The amount of whipped cream didn't look anywhere near enough both to fill and to cover the cake. I had to spread it thinly between each layer. However I had a lot of strawberries, so I could be more generous with these. As feared, the remaining cream was minimal and by no means enough. It had to be spread over the top and sides of the cake VERY sparingly. Unfortunately the cake could clearly be seen peeping through and the crumbs intermingled in the thin layer of cream. I couldn't help feeling disappointed by the appearance of the cake – I'd had such high hopes! Lastly I dotted some whole strawberries over the surface and, for a finishing touch, I couldn't help adding Isaac's plastic flag for a patriotic flourish!

Interesting use of flag!
As you are already aware, we are a greedy bunch. We managed to find room for a slice of cake each. Our stomachs were still incredibly full but we just couldn't resist! The first thing Neil commented on was the walnuts. He thought they complimented the strawberries brilliantly. Even though there wasn't enough cream for decoration purposes, it was in fact just the right amount; any more and it would no doubt have become sickly and too rich. It was a lovely light cake; the strawberries and cream set it off beautifully. Perfect for the Queen's Jubilee!

The flash didn't like this white cake :-(

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