Mixed Berry Fruit ‘Roll Ups’

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These fruit ‘roll ups’ are a fun, homemade confection I wanted try for the children as they go back to school tomorrow.

I thought they would be great as a quick, after school pick-me-up snack but having made them, they would also be a hit at children’s parties. ( I am now thinking alternative flavour combinations for Halloween…)

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As fresh berries are still so abundant for us right now, these ‘roll ups’ are a great use of them, and a completely different way of enjoying fresh fruit.

I have used a combination of blackberries, raspberries and strawberries along with Bramley apples which form the basis of this homemade confection.

The taste of these beauties is amazing! They give a sweet, fresh, blast of rich berries so intense that you instantly want to try another. Although I intended the ‘Roll Ups’ for the children, grown ups love these as well.

The method for making these is relatively easy – basically heat the fruit, puree in a blender, sieve and spread on a baking tray. The only drawback being the drying out time. They are not ready in an instant. If you want to give these a go, I would suggest starting them late afternoon/early evening, dry them on a low oven for 4-5 hours, transfer the papered rolls to a cooling rack and return to the oven (now switched off but still warm) and leave there overnight to dry out thoroughly.

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This gorgeous snack, which I can’t rate highly enough, is also freezeable. The fact of the matter is though, that these will never make it to the freezer.

They taste so good they will be gone before school even starts.

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Mixed Berry Fruit ‘Roll Ups’

Makes approximately 25-30 Roll Ups

Ingredients

  • 400g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 300g blackberries
  • 150g raspberries
  • 150g strawberries
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 120ml water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients into a large saucepan and heat gently. Cover with lid and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove lid, stir and continue to simmer for approximately 10 minutes until the apple becomes soft.
  2. Pour the heated fruits into a food processor and blend to form a puree. Place a sieve over a large bowl and pour the puree through it, so catching some of the fruit seeds.
  3. Prepare two baking trays by lining with baking parchment. Ensure the trays have edges so that the puree will not spill over. Divide the puree equally between the two trays and spread with a palate knife so forming a thin, smooth layer.
  4. Set the oven to 80 degrees C, or Gas Mark 1/4. Place the trays in the warm oven for 4-5 hours. After that time, turn the oven off, swap the baking trays for wire cooling racks and return to the oven (which is now switched off). By transferring to cooling racks, the bottom of the 'roll ups' can dry out sufficient. Leave overnight to dry completely.
  5. Test the 'drying' by peeling the edge of the 'roll up' away from the parchment. If it peels easily it is ready.
  6. When dry, with a sharp knife, cut strips about 2cm wide across the short side of the dried puree. Repeat until all cut. Roll up the strips and serve.
  7. Store in an airtight container. Suitable for home freezing.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/mixed-berry-fruit-roll-ups/

Source: Adapted from ‘Waitrose Food Illustrated’

Homemade Strawberry Jam

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Well, the school holidays are well and truly upon us and I face the challenge of keeping three kids happy and myself relatively sane. One activity that satisfies all four of us is fruit picking. Indeed, there will be many more trips this summer (I can’t resist this abundantly fresh fruit in my bakes). Indeed, what’s not to like? It is outdoors, a task for the children to carry out, cheap entertainment for them and fresh, ripe locally grown fruit and vegetables for my bakes and our supper.

This leads me nicely to the strawberry surplus in my fridge. The children were a bit over enthusiastic with their picking, in fact it was more like a harvest. Anyway, with a large, handled punnet of strawberries in my fridge, looking like they have seen slightly fresher days, my first attempt at jam making was upon me.

Naively, I thought making jam involved simply boiling fruit and preserving sugar. Now, having done a little research, yes…boiling fruit and sugar is the fundamental method… it appears it can be quite a bit more technical depending on the type of jam you hope to achieve. Firstly you need to consider the pectin level of the particular fruit. The pectin in the sweet fruit determines the setting level. Strawberries typically have low pectin levels. As my strawberries were freshly picked and grown outdoors they should have had sufficient pectin for setting and therefore I could have used solely granulated sugar. However, I wanted to ensure a good set so I used 50% granulated sugar and 50% preserve sugar. The lemon juice also acts a setting agent and well as a preservative.

So this is prime jam making season. So much lovely fresh fruit with good pectin levels. Stock up on fruit now and have a jam making session. It is very easy and very satisfying.

I was pleased with this first attempt at strawberry jam. Perfect on toast for the children, or fresh scones…

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Makes 2 jars

Ingredients

  • 500g strawberries, rinsed, hulled and halved
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 225g preserve sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 100 degrees C or Gas Mark 1/4. Place a saucer in the freezer (for the set test).
  2. Prepare the jars and lids by washing in soapy water and drying. Then place them in the oven, both facing down whilst the jam is being made.
  3. Put the strawberries and lemon into a large, heavy based saucepan and cook for 5-10 minutes over a medium heat until the berries are soft.
  4. Add both the sugars and heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Cook for approximately 15 minutes until your sugar thermometer reaches the 'jam' point, 105 degrees C. Alternatively, the setting point can be checked by dropping a small drop of jam onto the chilled saucer, allow it to cool and push it with your finger. When the jam wrinkles slightly, it is set. Always ensure that you remove the pan from the heat while you test for a set.
  5. Once the setting point has been reached, remove from the heat and spoon off any surface scum from the jam.
  6. Leave to cool slightly and then ladle into the warm, sterile jars. Allow to cool completely then top with waxed paper, seal with lid and label.
  7. Refrigerate the jam after opening.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/homemade-strawberry-jam/

Source: Slightly adapted from ‘The Preserving Book’ by Lynda Brown

Strawberry Teacake with Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

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Now that Wimbledon is upon us. Strawberries are well and truly order of the day.

Instead of making a strawberry dessert which can be a bit predictable, I thought I would make something that can be enjoyed at tea time. Cake.

This weekend I took my children strawberry picking, which I hope will be the first of many trips this year, to our local ‘Pick Your Own’ farm. They completely loved it! Having given them a picking criteria (not under ripe, over ripe, bird pecked), they were off and within minutes their punnets were positively brimming with strawberries. There is nothing like freshly picked ripe fruit – so juicy and beautifully sweet. It didn’t matter that we had surplus strawberries to my baking needs, they will get eaten.

strawberryteacake-1This is a teacake that I have baked many times but never with strawberries. (In fact, I have never made a cake with strawberries.) I have adapted this recipe from one of Bill Granger’s, a blueberry version, which is completely delicious. It contains sour cream which gives the crumb some density but it is by no means heavy and puffs up at the top as it bakes.

Baked in a rectangular tin, it also has the feeling of a tray bake –  minimum greasing, lining, cake construction and frosting.

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I have also adapted the cream cheese frosting to include fresh pureed strawberries. Absolutely delicious! The quantity given in the recipe is enough to frost the whole cake but as you can see I have frosted half the cake and drizzled the other half with icing sugar. Go with what you fancy. Maybe the strawberry frosting is strawberry overload for you? One tip with the frosting, be sure to use full fat cream cheese, the light version just goes runny. It is also best eaten within two days of making.

This cake is very easy and goes along way. It makes 18 portions. Store in an air tight container and the cake will see you through to the Wimbledon finals…

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Strawberry Teacake with Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 18 slices

Ingredients

  • 300g fresh strawberries
  • 200ml soured cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 180g butter, softened
  • 330g caster sugar, plus 1.5 tablespoons (for steeping strawberries)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 375g plain flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • For the frosting
  • 150g strawberries, pureed
  • 250g full fat cream cheese
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted

Instructions

  1. Prepare the strawberries by washing and cutting/chopping each strawberry into about 6 pieces. Place chopped strawberries into a bowl and sprinkle with 1.5 tablespoons of caster sugar. Allow strawberries to steep a little.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4.
  3. Prepare the tin (my tin measured 23cm x 30cm) by greasing and lining with parchment. In a bowl, mix together the sour cream and bicarbonate of soda. Allow 5 minutes for the acidity in the sour cream to activate the soda.
  4. In the bowl of a freestanding mixture, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and then add the sour cream mixture. Thoroughly combine.
  5. Sift the flour and baking powder together into the bowl. Gently fold in the flour until combined. Gently fold in half of the steeped strawberries.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Distribute the remaining strawberries over the top of the cake.
  7. Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool in the baking tray for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
  8. For the Frosting
  9. Wash and chop the strawberries and then puree in a blender.
  10. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, put the butter and the sifted icing sugar. With a fork, work through the butter and sugar until roughly combined before beating until light and fluffy. Add the salt and lemon zest and continue to combine.
  11. Add the cream cheese and continue to mix until light and fluffy but do not overbeat. Fold in the strawberry puree until evenly distributed.
  12. Spoon or spread over the cake as desired.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/strawberry-teacake-with-fresh-strawberry-cream-cheese-frosting/

Source: Adapted from Bill Granger’s ‘Feed Me Now’