I picked up our first strawberries of the season yesterday. There is nothing on earth that tastes better than fresh English strawberries in season. I can't abide strawberries out of season, all tasteless and covered in chemicals. Everything that is so wonderful about strawberries is missing from these substanceless imitations.
Nothing beats a fresh strawberry, eaten straight from the plant, the warmth of the sunshine still upon them . . . Well, wild strawberries do come very close, but those are very hard to find now. Try serving them sliced and sprinkled with some cracked black pepper. Sounds strange, but is quite delicious!
I whipped up a hot milk cake to enjoy these with last night. I just sliced the berries and mixed them with a little bit of sugar and let them sit for a few minutes to release all their juices. Then I split the cooled cake open in the middle and layered it with some freshly whipped double cream and generous spoonfuls of the sliced berries. Heaven on earth . . .
*Mom's Hot Milk Sponge Cake*
Makes one 7 inch square cake
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup hot milk
1 TBS butter
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Grease a 7 inch square cake tin. Line with baking paper and grease the baking paper. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
Beat the egg yolks until light in colour. Slowly beat in one cup of sugar, beating with a spoon for five minutes. Fold in the egg whites.
Sift the flour together with the baking powder and salt. Fold this into the egg and sugar mixture.
Stir the butter into the hot milk until it is melted and then gently stir the hot milk into the cake batter, mixing it all in well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the
heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until well risen and the cake tests down when a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove to a wire rack to cool for five minutes, before removing from the cake tin to finish cooling completely on the wire rack.
My dad always liked this plain, split in the middle and filled with strawberry jam. It's also great filled with lemon curd and whipped cream, with a bit of icing sugar dusted on top.