I have wanted to make a fraisier since I saw Mary Berry making one, but it looked rather complicated. It was a special birthday for my friend, so I decided to have a go and was very happy with the result. It's not as perfect as Mary B's, but tasted good and was a great hit.
I didn't use her recipe either, but one I found in a French magazine, which was giving recipes for using strawberries.
I made the Genoisse sponge the day before to make it a little more solid for the fruit and cream. I also used crème fraiche instead of double cream.

You need 500g strawberries, 500ml crème fraiche, 100g caster sugar

 For the Genoise, you need 125g caster sugar, 100g flour, 75g melted butter and 4 eggs

To make the sponge: preheat oven 180C/gas4     line a 28 cm springform cake tin, sides and bottom

Over a pan of simmering water beat together the eggs and the sugar till they've doubled in volume and become frothy, then take off the heat.
Carefully add the flour and melted butter and mix well. Pour into the tin and bake for 30 mins.
Wash the strawberries and hull them. Cut them into halves.
Whip the very cold cream with the sugar till thick.
Cut the sponge through the middle and put one half in the bottom of the tin. Put half of the cream on top then arrange strawberry slices round the inside of the tin cut side out to make a sort of crown of strawberries. Fill in the middle with the rest of the strawberries, and cover with the rest of the cream and top with the other sponge layer.
Put it in the fridge to set for at least an hour before you serve it.

I thought there was rather too much cream in the middle, so I kept some back and put it on top with a few slices of strawberries and some pistachios. It's certainly not as neat and tidy as some fraisiers, but the taste was good and it's much less complicated to make. The sponge layer, then the fruit and the cream, all give lovely layers of flavour and texture.A good way of using strawberries, rather than the usual tart or flan.


Cider Cake

I've mentioned before that my Polish neighbour loves baking, and we have regular sessions together. I thought we'd make some traditional British cakes, so as I had a can of cider left in the fridge, we made a Somerset Cider cake. 

It's easy to make, looks simple, but tastes good.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4              Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.

You need 125g butter which you cream with 125g caster sugar till fluffy. Add 2 beaten eggs and eat in. Mix 225g sr flour with 1 tspn bicarb and 1/2 tspn each of nutmeg and cinnamon [or more if you want it more spicy]. Add half of this to the batter, then add 200ml cider and mix together. Fold in the rest of the flour and spoon into the tin.

Bake for 35-40 mins.

Cool in the tin, then take out and put on a wire rack and sprinkle some caster sugar over the top.

This is a nice moist cake with a light texture.You can certainly get the apple taste from the cider, and I added a little cinnamon to my caster sugar before sprinkling it on top to give it a bit more spice. You could change the spice mix in the cake - maybe some ginger, or try cardamom?

A simple, tasty treat.


Coffee Cheesecake

I wanted to make something that wasn't a cake, so decided on a cheesecake. I love baked and non-baked ones, but this is my favourite recipe. We all love coffee, so this would be the flavour. To give it a good coffee flavour I used Nestle's Azera Espresso granules. When I've made it for an occasion I have added a little whisky, but this isn't necessary for an everyday cheesecake.

40g soft butter
200g digestive biscuits
700g Philadelphia cream cheese
20 g cocoa powder
6g instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbspn warm water
4 eggs
175g caster sugar

For the sauce:
50g dark chocolate
35g water 
1 tsbspn whisky[opt]

Preheat oven 150C/gas2                       20cm base lined cake tin

Crush the digestives into crumbs. In a bowl mix them with the soft butter and cocoa then put the mixture into the base of the cake tin, pressing it down with the back of a spoon.
Put into the fridge.
In another bowl mix the cream cheese, caster sugar and coffee. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well. Pour this over the biscuit base
Bake for 40 mins then leave to cool in the tin.
Put in the fridge for 12 hours.
Make the sauce by melting the chocolate with the water and whisky [if using] to make a smooth, glossy sauce.
Serve the sauce with the cheesecake.

I had a tube of Carnation caramel to finish, so I added a little of this to the chocolate topping. The cheesecake has a good coffee flavour and a smooth texture. I liked the contrast of the chocolate in the biscuits, and the toppings gave it a decadent feel.


Orange and Cardamom Bundt Cake

My lovely German dil gave me a pretty Bundt cake tin for my birthday, but it stayed in the cupboard until I found it yesterday. I needed to make a cake, as my son and family are moving to my town today. [It will be so good to have some family nearby.] I have a bit of a 'thing' about cardamom at the moment, so wanted to use it as one of the flavours. I think orange goes well with it, so decided to make a cake with these two flavours. It's another recipe I was given by my friend, who runs her own tea shop, and is a good cake to make for a celebration.

220g Philadelphia cream cheese
220 g butter
250g caster sugar
6 eggs
350g sr flour
1 tspn baking powder
Zest of 1 large orange
1 tspn ground cardamom
Icing sugar

Preheat oven 170°C. Grease or spray the Bundt tin/mould with Cake Release

Whisk the butter and Philly together,  then add the sugar and beat it in.
Whisk the eggs in one by one, then add the finely grated zest and the cardamom and mix together.
Add the flour and baking powder, but don't over mix.
Pour the mixture into the mould and bake for about 50 mins. Leave the cake to cool in the mould before turning our onto a wire rack.

I think it's a pretty cake, and it doesn't need fancy icing. It's lovely and moist, has a good crumb, and the flavours of the orange and the cardamom come through. I really do love cardamom. It's a generous sized cake - we were 5 and all had a generous slice, and there was some left for son and daughter to take home. I just have to say that I bought the metal cake stand for 50p at a local jumble sale - a bargain!

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