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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Strawberry Cake for the not-pregnant, pregnant.


Before you read one more word, here's a disclaimer:
This post is a complete cop-out
In fact it's the grand daddy of cop-outs
There's so much cheating going on here that the only reason I'm not totally embarrassed by it all is because I'm admitting it so openly.
So YOU my lovelies can choose not to proceed if you like. Or if you don't like. Whatever, it's not on my head anymore, phew.

So here's the thing. I wrote this post at this exact time exactly 2 years ago.
That was when I was 2 years post-partum and looked it.
Now, I am 7 months post-partum and look about 4 months pregnant.
Which blows.
No?

Anyway, in the good old days, we made my delicious strawberry crumble -which I urged you to eat with cream.  And still urge you to eat with cream, because damn, that stuff makes me go all soft in the knees.

But now, see, I can't do it.
I can't. 
I simply cannot get myself to eat a bowlful of cream. With or without strawberries. 
Because I'm not-pregnant, pregnant, and that's just not stylish.
And one simply must try to be stylish in the summer. 

But this is the thing about England in the summer and Wimbledon and so on.
Stylish or not, one cannot get by without strawberries and cream. 
Nor should one, for that matter.
Because strawberries are a total treat - sweet, juicy and fragrant - they really do encapsulate the very Best of British.
And golly, are the British absolutely mad about their strawberries and cream or what? 

So, yesterday for example, while we were at the revered Temple of Tennis and Andy Murray was quite excellently defeating Kevin Anderson, I noticed - in between exercising my neck muscles in that very particular way one only ever does when watching tennis - that everybody, and I really do mean everybody, was scoffing their way through large bowls of the said strawberries and cream, with so much passion, it was hard not to smile.

And give in.
Well, almost give in.

Like sooooo almost give in, you won't believe it.
I even joined the queue. And it was a very long queue it was. So there I was, in it. First at the back, and then at the front, and then suddenly - kind of before I was expecting it - it was my turn. And I thought of my not-pregnant, pregnant tummy and I copped-out. Big time. I sort of mumbled an apology to the nice girl at the counter and to Sid's ultimate horror, I  turned on my back and ran.

Yes, yes, yes, I'm a such a sad loser.
Sigh.

So I came back to my seat with my tail between my legs, and pretended not to listen to the old "can't take you anywhere in public" from hubby dear, which is something I've been hearing so much of lately and makes me wonder why... hmm.

Anyway, so there I was back at Centre Court, and you see, some things never do change. Because there was Mr. Murray still doing his funny serve-whoop and continuing to quite excellently defeat Mr. Anderson and there was still everybody eating bowls of strawberries and cream.

Yes, yes everybody but me.
I know I know I know
It was hard.
I just fell in my own eyes.

Did you see me on TV by the way? I was in a little yellow dress. My mum claims she saw me on TV a lot. But it's my mum, what would she say? She also claimed it was because the camera-man liked me. I told her it was most likely because I was the only person not eating strawberries and cream.

Anyway. 

So then of course I spent the better part of the Novak match (I love Novak, don't you) thinking how I could redeem myself. Like a little bit.
And while Novak was playing some quite brilliant tennis, I was singing a little Tsonga.
Because in my head I came up with this cake and then I came home and made it.
All in all, it can't be called anything other than a guilt-driven experiment in how not to feel guilty. Which is all very confusing but I know you're with me.
You're always with me.
That's why I love you so much. Muah.

So.
This is an absolute cop-out as I warned you
Because if you're expecting it to taste anything like strawberries and cream, well then it doesn't.
Which is good because then I wouldn't be needing to write this post at all really.
Because if I was telling you how to add cream to strawberries, then life must be very boring indeed. Which I'm happy to report, isn't quite so, yet. 

Right, so this isn't meant to sub for strawberries and cream.
Mainy because one needs cream for something to taste like cream.
But it's not bad. I promise it's not.
It's actually - for how little of the naughty stuff it needs - pretty darn good.
Which makes me feel like a rather clever loser.
Which is infinitely better than being just a loser.

And, and, and - it's pink!
See, if and only if you belong to a 3-boy household, do you realise the true essence of pink.
See - pink, in my household - is pretty much banned.
As in I get the tilting eyebrows and the rolling eyes and the "youcan'tbeserious" faces. And sometimes the outright "Pink is for girls"
To which I say, "but I am a girl"
And I get, without batting an eyelid - "No, you're not"
Which is just peachy.
Because not only am I not-pregnant, pregnant, but I'm not even female.
Sigh.

Seriously, I'm sooooo jealous of you ladies with little girls who have entire rooms in pink.
The most I can get away with is pink cake. Which as you can tell gets me all giddy.

Here's what you need:
24 oz of the very best ripest strawberries you can find for that rich, vibrant colour
1/2 cup milk,
4 eggs 
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
 
Here's how you do it:
Hull and roughly chop the strawberries, and let sit for an hour or so until nice and juicy. Add 1/4 cup water and then simmer in a small sauce pan for about 15 minutes, until the berries are very soft.

Now strain the juice out with a spatula or spoon - really scrape and press the strawberries through the strainer until all of the juice is in the bowl and you’re only left with the juiceless pulp. Throw away the pulp and transfer the juice back to the sauce pan. Reduce the liquid down to 1/2 cup and cool. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a large pan. 

In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients - puree, milk, egg, vanilla and mix until well blended.  
In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients - sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat the mixture at slow speed and add butter. Mix until combined and the mixture looks crumbly.

Now mix together wet and dry  ingredients and beat for 2-3 minutes until all creamy and lovely. Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for about half an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out nice and clean. Let rest, cool. And Enjoy. Guilt-free :)

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