Anyone for Strawberries?

It’s June, the sun is shining (sometimes) and Wimbledon is about to start. Royal Ascot has just finished and no doubt vast amounts of strawberries and strawberry jam on scones were consumed. We’re no different in the Betty Bee House. Betty is a 5-year-old Strawberry fiend. Every year for her birthday I ask her what cake she wants, and she always says strawberry! What’s her favourite Ice cream? Strawberry – preferably with Strawberry sauce too! What does she want on her porridge? Yep, you guessed it, strawberries (or strawberry jam, she’s not fussy)!
This year we seem to have our own homegrown strawberries coming out of our ears (that June rain is good for something). There are too many for us to possibly eat them all, as much as we try! So I thought I would share with you a few things that we like making with our fresh strawberries. Give them a go and let me know how you get in on the comments.

Betty Bee’s Strawberry cupcakes
These were a “whip them up after school” recipe – they’re that easy! You’ll notice there are no accurate measurements – I made them up on the hoof (I was a bad mummy and forgot that it was Cake Sale day at school pickup, so we made our own!)

Makes 12 cupcakes.
• 3 free-range eggs (medium or large, whatever you have)
• Same weight of eggs in shells of:
• Caster sugar
• Butter or baking spread, at room temperature
• Self-raising flour
• As many strawberries as you fancy, chopped small
• 5 or 6 strawberries, either whizzed up or mushed in a bowl
• Icing sugar

Turn on the oven to 160C fan and line a 12-cup tin with paper cases.
Weigh the eggs in their shells, then weigh out the same weight of the sugar and butter into a mixing bowl. Beat them together until they are soft and fluffy. I used my stand mixer, but a handheld electric mixer, or a good old wooden spoon will do.
Beat the eggs then add in gradually to the mix.
Gradually add in the self-raising flour (weighed to the same as the eggs)
Stir in a couple of spoons of the whizzed-up strawberries (and add in a splash of milk if the mix still looks a bit thick. It needs to be drop off the soon when you lift it up)
Mix in the chopped strawberries by hand
Distribute between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for 25-30 mins until springy to the touch. If you aren’t confident with the spring-touch-test, insert a skewer and see if it comes out clean.

Once cool, mix the remaining mushed-up strawberries with enough icing sugar to make a spreadable consistency, and dollop on the top.
As the icing has uncooked strawberries in, they are best stored in the fridge. Ours didn’t last that long …

Strawberry Ice Cream
This is another easy one, and when we made this on Sunday morning, we cheated a bit with the custard.

You will need:
A 400g tin of custard (or make your own if you’re being fancy)
A 500g tub of yogurt (we used Skyr, because that’s what we had, but any plain yogurt will do)
Chopped strawberries

I used the ice cream making attachment on my food mixer, but if you don’t have an ice cream maker, then blitz the ice cream ingredients in a food processor and freeze in a big tub, stirring every hour or so until set.
Mix together the custard and yogurt in a bowl and add in 3 or 4 teaspoons of honey. Pour into the ice cream maker and churn until almost setting consistency (about 20 minutes but refer to your manufacturers instructions). For the last couple of minutes add in the chopped strawberries and carry on churning. Pour into a large plastic tub and freeze. After 2 hours take it out and stir. The edge will probably be frozen, but the middle still soft. Put back in the freezer and leave for another 2 hours.

In the meantime, make the strawberry sauce. Now, I just made this up this morning, but the ratios are so easy you could make it in whatever quantity you wanted.
In a saucepan put equal quantities of sugar and water (I used 50g of sugar, 50ml of water). Add in double (of the sugar or water) the amount of chopped strawberries (I used 100g). If it’s easier to remember, the strawberries weigh the same as the water and sugar combined. Slowly dissolve the sugar and stir in the strawberries, mushing with the spoon as you go. When the sugar is dissolved let it come to the boil and simmer until you have a nice saucy consistency and the strawberries have almost disintegrated. This isn’t jam, so don’t worry about boiling points, just make sure to stir so the sugar doesn’t stick and burn.
Turn off the heat and leave to sit for about 5 minutes. Carefully pour through a sieve into a bowl and mush through any remaining lumps of strawberry. Discard the seeds. Pour into a squirty bottle thing and sore int eh fridge for up to 5 days. Great on pancakes too!
When your ice cream is frozen scoop into bowls or cones and drizzle on the sauce. Betty has given me a thumb’s up for this one!

Strawberry Jam
A classic, and something I love making. My mum used to make vats of the stuff because we always had a glut of strawberries. My recipe is how my mum makes jam and is pretty basic. There are loads of other recipes out there, but this is so easy to remember. You just need to make sure you trust your instinct and don’t let it over-cook.

Equal weight of chopped strawberries and granulated sugar (jam sugar is great to use if you can get hold of it)
A squirt of lemon juice
Water (for 1kg of strawberries you will need about 80ml of water)
A jam thermometer

Put a couple of saucers or small plates in the freezer (trust me, I haven’t gone barmy).

Put the strawberries and sugar in the bottom of a large, heavy-based pan (use the biggest one you have – you don’t want it boiling over). Mush them up together a bit so the sugar starts dissolving in the juices. Add in a squirt of lemon juice and the water.

Put your jam thermometer in the pan. Put the pan on a low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. This is really important; you don’t want to feel grainy bits under your spoon. Once dissolved turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, but trying not to splash too much up the sides. Don’t let it catch on the bottom, your jam will taste of burnt sugar.

After 20 mins switch the heat off, let the boil settle for a moment then take a teaspoon of jam and put it on one of your frozen saucers. Let it cool for a few minutes (you’re going to stick your finger in it, so you don’t want to do that in boiling jam!), then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles your jam is set, if not, boil it for a couple more minutes and test again. Repeat until it’s ready – or you get bored, whichever comes first. Some days you just have to accept that your jam is going to be more of a pouring than a spreading consistency!

Leave it to stand for 10-15 minutes, scrape any scummy bits off the top and stir to distribute the fruit. CAREFULLY pour into hot, sterilised jars and seal tight.

Leave them to cool (wait for the popping sounds as the lids seal airtight – so satisfying), label them up, then store in a cool dark place. Enjoy on your toast, scones, porridge (a la Betty) or however you want to eat your jam.

I hope you give these a go, I’m off to rescue some more ripe strawberries from the woodlice (they love them as much as Betty!).

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