We had a long weekend recently in Brisbane, which felt disjointed because hubby worked the Saturday, and I worked the Monday. My sister was away on a beach holiday and I had a day with which to work out how to run solo, without spending the entire thing at home.
So I ventured out, on foot, to a recently started local market. It was a little to warm honestly for the 7.5km round trip, but, thankfully no birdlife swooped me on the way.
Hot, sweaty and very thirsty (hydration Cookie, when will you learn?) my first purchase was a Virgin Mojito Ice Tea. Over a week later and I'm still thinking about it……mmm…..mojito…..and I can't be sure if I loved it, because it was awesome, or because I was hot and thirsty and it was full of ice!
It was a harder choice on the food front, when my head kept saying 'yeah, but I could make that' and I finally convinced myself on a lemon slice for comparative purposes. And yeah, I should have made that! I did cave and buy some churros in a cup…..because in all honesty, deep frying scares the bejesus outta me.
Then came the most foolish purchase. Absolute folly. 2kgs of fresh strawberries. Why? They smelt amazing, cost more than I should have paid, but the smell was just hypnotising. After 40mins jammed in my backpack on a hot day though, they were a bit squished.
So, what do you do with 2kgs of 'a bit squished' strawberries? Well, you cook with them of course.
Strawberry Sillyness Part 1 – Jam
While flicking through some recipe magazines I came across a quick strawberry jam recipe. Perfect for using up the very squished strawberries.
from Donna Hay magazine, Issue 71 page 122
- 500g strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (the recipe was for white, but I used what I had to hand).
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the strawberries, sugar, vanilla bean paste and stir until the strawberries start to soften and release liquid. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring, occassionally, for 14-18 minutes or until thickened.
Add the vinegar, and stir well to combine. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool completely. Refigerate until cold.
Of course, that left me with the 'what do I do with strawberry jam' question. I made a cake. Yes, how predictable.
My First Chocolate Sponge Layer Cake
This is also from the same Donna Hay magazine, same page even, but instead of pairing my jam with a classic Victoria sponge, I picked the chocolate sponge from the next recipe because…..well….'Chocolate?'. Need I say more?
- 1/2 cup (75g) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
- 50g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly grease 2x20cm round shallow cake tins and line them with non-stick baking paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa three times and aside. I did this three times. I'll be honest, I don't know why. Next time I won't and we'll see if it makes a diference.
Place the eggs and sugar in an electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 12-15minutes or until pale, thick and tripled in volume. Sift half the flour mixture over the egg mixture and using a large metal spoon, gently fold to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour. Add the butter and fold to combine. Divide the mixture between the tins and gently spread the mixture evenly with a palette knife.
Bake for 14-18minutes or until the sponges are springy to the touch and come away from the sides of the tins. Remove the cakes from the tins and cool completely on wire racks.
At this point, I was worried that the jam and chocolate sponge needed something else….something perhaps like…..
Chocolate Rum Liqueur Buttercream
Because if we're in for a penny, we should be in for a pound. Right?
adapted from Marianne Hudsons 'cupcakes' recipe on page 96
- 2 tablespoons chocolate rum liqueur. I used the Bundeberg Rum one, because my husband brought an ENTIRE CARTOON of the stuff.
- 1 cup confectioners'/icing sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
Combine all the topping ingredients in your electic mixer and whisk until combined, and as fluffy as you can get it.
So now we have one hell of a triumphant looking chocolate, strawberry cake with a layer of buttercream and jam between the sponge, and another layer of both up top. Delicious.