Strawberry Scones

The sun’s out and I feel inspired and buzzing with fresh ideas. There really isn’t anything like the end of Winter to make me feel ready to attack the spring and summer with gusto – it’s amazing what a bit of warmth and sunlight can do!

We had a lovely trip to see the sea of bluebells last weekend, which is a bit of a yearly tradition in my part of the country, which culminated with cool drinks in a National Trust cafe. All the other customers seemed to be tucking into cream teas (obviously it was drinks or nothing for us!), which got me thinking about making a batch of scones. Scones, with their association with cream teas and strawberry jam always seem rather summery to me, so perfect for my current vibe. So here is a cracking combination of scones and strawberries  so we can tuck into a cream tea at home.

I’d really recommend using freeze-dried berries in sweet recipes, as you get all the flavour and none of the ‘sog factor’, so there’s no need to adjust the indigents to factor in extra moisture.

 

Strawberry Scones

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

Makes about 20

450g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

75g dairy-free margarine

75g caster sugar

300 ml dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

1 tsp berry essence, if you have it

1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries , roughly chopped

To top: 2 tbsp oat milk 2 tbsp granulated sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/gas mark 6. Grease and flour 2 baking sheets.
  2. Rub the margarine into the flour, sugar and baking powder until it resembles breadcrumbs. 
  3. Pour in the essence and dairy-free milk and very gently bring together to a soft dough. It’s very important not to work scone dough. Add the freeze dried berries.
  4. Gently pat out the dough until its about 1 inch thick. Using a 2inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place on the baking sheets Continue, gently bringing the dough back into a ball and cutting out, until all the dough has been used up.
  5. Brush the top of each with dairy-free milk and sprinkle with sugar Bake for about 20-25 minutes until starting to turn golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Strawberry Creams

One thing Little S dreams of but has never been able to indulge in is a box of chocolates. A pretty box filled with an array of beautiful chocolates with delicious fillings… well, who wouldn’t want such a thing? So I’m on a mission to make one for her birthday as a little surprise (Shhhh!)

We have a great fondness for Choices caramels, but they’re all one flavour which isn’t quite the same as the surprise and choice you get from a selection. I want to recreate the thrill of looking at the mini chocolate menu and choosing your favourite!

So these strawberry creams are the first in a series of filled chocolates and one of my very favourites. In my opinion the flavours of dark chocolate and berrry flavoured fondant are a match made in heaven. They’re also as simple as can be – as long as you have a chocolate mould and some patience you too can make shop worthy chocolates.

The fondant filling is simple: icing sugar (I used Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugar as it’s totally safe and adds an extra oomph of flavour) mixed with a fresh strawberry purée, what could be easier!

Strawberry Creams

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

1 tbsp fresh strawberry puree (or maybe a little more)

1 cup icing sugar

100g dairy-free dark chocolate

  1. Melt the chocolate following the instructions here. It needs to be tempered to get a lovely shiny finish.
  2. Coat the moulds with the about 3/4s of the chocolate. Leave to set.
  3. Meanwhile make the strawberry fondant filling. It needs to be like very thick icing, so start with 1 tbsp of puree and add more if necessary.
  4. Pour the fondant into the set chocolate moulds.
  5. Cover with the remaining chocolate and leave to set.
  6. Try not to eat too many at once 😉

 

Stunning strawberry cupcakes

dairy-free, egg-free strawberry cupcake

This autumn term has reintroduced Thursday bake day into my life, the day when I bake goodies for the girls to take into school to share with their friends. You may think that I’m way over the top baking goodies each week (unless it’s someone’s birthday and they’re bringing in homemade treats) but I think it’s so important for my girls (and those around them) to enjoy friendly treats which they can enjoy, rather than the special, weird foods everyone shies away from. We have a few dear friends who bake so that both girls are included, and one family in particular who go to amazing lengths to ensure that little S doesn’t feel different; but on the whole, if it’s not me baking, then they’ll end up with a bag of haribo whilst everyone else scoffs cakes. It’s lucky they like haribo! Anyway, so Friday cake day has become a tradition and most often the requested treat is cupcakes…. No surprises there!

This is a delicious variation on a simple vanilla cupcake – infused with delicate strawberry flavour, and then iced with a wonderfully blush strawberry buttercream, these cupcakes are a notch up from the usual.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan strawberry cupcakes

makes 24

400g self-raising flour

200g caster sugar

pinch of salt

200ml sunflower oil

300ml dairy-free milk

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp strawberry flavouring

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 4. Place liners in a cupcake tray
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Stir in the sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free milk, bicarb, lemon, strawberry flavouring and oil.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix, until well combines.
  5. 2/3rds fill the liners and bake for 18-20 minutes, until lightly golden and a knife comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.

For the strawberry buttercream:

1/4 cup vegetable fat (such as Trex)

3/4 cup dairy-free margarine (such as Pure)

3 cups icing sugar, sifted

1/2 cup strawberry puree (fresh strawberries whizzed up to a puree in a blender and then sieved)

  1. Whisk together the spread and vegetable fat.
  2. Add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time with a splash of the strawberry puree, until fully combined and nice and fluffy.
  3. use to top the cupcakes and then sprinkle with freeze-dried strawberry pieces

dairy-free, nut-free strawberry cupcakes

Chocolate and strawberry cake

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I haven’t made a proper cake for ages – somehow it always seems more convenient to make cupcakes, but every now and then you can’t beat the visual appeal of a stunning centrepiece cake. I had intended on making a usual chocolate layer cake for the girls and their friends, but the sad slightly squishy strawberries in the fridge really had to be used up. So, I experimented a bit with the strawberries puréed up and added to the buttercream. And it works a treat. Just 1/2 cup of fresh strawberry purée changed a simple buttercream into a pink hued, fruity delight, with that sweet unmistakeable scent.

Chocolate and Strawberry Cake (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes 1 cake!

  • 330g self-raising flour
  • 5 tbsps cocoa powder
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 290ml oat milk
  • 2 tbsps dairy-free yogurt, I used soya
  • 100g dairy-free spread, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

for the buttercream:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable fat (such as Trex)
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free spread (such as Pure)3 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup strawberry puree (fresh strawberries whizzed up to a puree in a blender

– Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5

– Grease and line a deep cake tin

– Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt

– Stir in the sugar

– In a separate bowl, mix together the oat milk, melted dairy-free spread, dairy-free yogurt and vanilla.

– Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix gently until well combined.

– Pour into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a knife comes out clean

– Cool in the cake tin.

– Meanwhile, make the buttercream.

– Whisk together the spread and vegetable fat.

– Add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time with a splash of the strawberry puree, until fully combined and nice and fluffy.

– Once the cake is completely cool, cut in half and fill with buttercream.
– Finish off by coating the top and sides with an even layer of the remaining buttercream.
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Mixed Berry and Elderflower Ice Lollies

I’ve mentioned before the problems we have in buying ice lollies. Some own brand supermarket options are OK for us, but on the whole we can rarely buy ice lollies from ice cream vans or shops, due to them possibly containing nut or milk traces. This can be particularly painful on sticky hot days, especially when we’re out with friends and other children are tucking into refreshing ice creams, and my girls have to sit and watch empty handed 😦

These stunning homemade lollies don’t solve that problem, but they make a fab treat or summer pudding, and a great way for children to eat masses of fruit without realising it! The texture is soft and more like a set sorbet than an icy lolly, making these perfect for all family members.

Mixed Berry and Elderflower Ice Lollies (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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Makes 4

  • 200g strawberries
  • 100g raspberries
  • 1-3 tbsps icing sugar, to taste depending on the sharpness of the berries
  • 1 cup apple and elderflower pressed juice, or elderflower cordial (diluted)

– Whizz or mash the berries and pass through a sieve
– Taste and add sugar as desired
– Stir in the juice
– Pour into ice lolly moulds and freeze

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Strawberry Ripple Egg-free Meringues

I haven’t rolled out my egg-free meringue recipe for quite a while, but having seen a bag of beautiful blackcurrant meringues in the Ottolenghi window display the other day, I thought I’d do a fruity meringue too.

These pretty pink mini-meringues are flavoured with freeze-dried strawberries, ground to a pink dust. The flavour is intensely ‘strawberry’.

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I was really pleased with the results, as were my taste testers big and small, as they had perfectly gooey marshmallow centres and a crisp outer shell . In fact, I guarantee you’ll fool anyone into thinking these are conventional meringues made with eggs.

As for the look, well the ripple effect isn’t too natural – I’m not sure how you could achieve it any other way. I streaked a piping bag with lines of red food colouring gel before adding the meringue mix. It’s not necessary of course but adding a visual touch makes them look all the more tempting (thank you Good Food magazine for the idea!)

Strawberry Ripple Egg-free Meringues (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 12 smallish meringues

  • 6 tbsps icing sugar, sifted
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp soya protein
  • 3 tbsps cold water
  •  ½ tsp cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1½ tsps soya protein
  • 2 tbsps freeze dried strawberries ground to a powder

– Preheat the oven to 110 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark ½

– Line a baking sheet with baking paper/parchment

– In a small bowl whisk together the icing sugar, xanthan gum and 1 tsp of soya protein. Set aside.

– In a large bowl place the water, vinegar, vanilla and 1½ tsps soya protein. Whisk on high speed for up to 10 minutes until it has increased considerably in size, and is fluffy and bubbly.

– Keeping the whisk on high add the icing sugar mix, 1 tbsp at a time. The mixture should eventually turn pure white and leave stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted out of the mix (I found the peaks were not quite as stiff as one would expect from an egg-based meringue). Whisk in the strawberry dust.

– Pipe or spoon the mix onto the lined baking sheet.

– Place in the oven for up to 1½ hours, until the meringues are totally set and easily peel off the paper.

– Remove from the oven, peel off the paper and leave to cool.

– Keep in a sealed box until ready to use.

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