Having declared summer this week, with warmer temperatures and bluer skies, it seems appropriate to look forward to Wimbledon at the end of the month and our British strawberry season.
On our recent holiday, we sat outside on a pretty restaurant terrace and sipped glasses of Pimms whilst soaking up the sunshine and waiting for our lunch to be served. At home today, the clouds have sadly returned – not a day to sit in the garden with chilled glasses - but I wanted to recreate something of that glorious moment of relaxation.
After a little thought, I decided to bake a cake for the weekend, containing all the flavours and aromas of a Pimms. I adapted a recipe to include all of the luscious sweet and sour fruity tastes, together with the tang of heady mint. It is a beautifully moist cake, perfect for a garden party, and so decadent when accompanied with fresh and juicy British strawberries. It will also keep, undecorated, for about 3 days although, once tasted, I don’t think it will last that long!
225g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs, beaten
225g self-raising flour
Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange
Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
Handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
One extra teaspoon of caster sugar
Strawberries and fresh mint leaves
450g/2lb loaf tin, greased and lined
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg, a little at a time, beating well between each addition.
Sift the flour over the mixture and gently stir to a smooth consistency, then stir in the orange and lime zest and the chopped mint. Stir in 50ml of the Pimms gently and then pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
Bake for approximately 40 to 50 minutes (test the cake is baked by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake – if it comes out clean, then it’s ready). Turn it out onto a wire rack.
Mix 1 teaspoon of caster sugar into the orange and lime juices and the remaining 50ml of Pimms.
Whilst the cake is hot - using a skewer, prick all over the top of the cake, then slowly and very carefully pour the liquid mix over the cake. You will need to allow the liquid to slowly absorb, so have patience and add a little at a time, then leave the cake to cool completely.
Once cool, decorate the cake with strawberries and sprigs of mint.