I think the thing i most resent about having to go away for work at this time of year is that there is so much lovely home produce to eat and preserve in some form or another at this time of year, and when i go away i feel like it goes to waste. The dear husband can only eat so much on his own, and although he is a better bottler of fruit than i, there are only so many bottles of fruit you can use in a year. We had loads of plums still on the trees when i went away; i came home a week later and all the Luisa plums were gone. There are still a few Omega plums, but now we have Blackboy peaches and pears (of unknown variety - the tree was here when we moved to the property) available to eat. I did take a bag of plums in to the hills with me, and i and my workmate enjoyed them on our breakfast each morning (we got helicoptered in to the valley - i would not have carried a bag of plums had we been walking!).
We are still getting strawberries - they have thrived with the regular rain. The husband and i had some for dessert last night, and i've just been out to pick more.
We have a friend coming for dinner, and i know he has a sweet tooth, so i decided to use some strawberries from the freezer to make Strawberry and Rhubarb Shortcake and serve it with whipped cream and fresh strawberries on the side. I've got rhubarb in the garden, but i also have some in the freezer - i divided and moved my rhubarb late last autumn, and not wanting to waste the remaining stalks i chopped up a bunch and stuck it in the freezer. It needs to be used!!
The recipe is yet another from 'A Treasury of New Zealand Baking'. I'm sure i've said it before, but one of the big attractions of this book for me are the large number of recipes that utilise fresh fruit. If you like baking and have a home orchard and berry garden i highly recommend you get yourself a copy of this book.
The blurb at the start of the recipe states that "fruit shortcakes are one of the glories of the New Zealand home kitchen". This is a versatile recipe which can work for a wide variety of fruit - i happen to know it is extremely delicious with a fresh raspberry filling. Many fruits (such as raspberries) don't need any form of preparation such as the rhubarb requires - just pile them in and put the topping on. I might have to try this recipe with sliced Blackboy peaches next.
STRAWBERRY and RHUBARB SHORTCAKE
A Lois Daish recipe from 'A Treasury of New Zealand Baking'
3-4 stalks rhubarb
3 tablespoons sugar
1 heaped cup strawberries
125g butter, softened
225g standard flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line the bottom of a 20-22 cm shallow round non-stiick cake tin with baking paper.
To prepare the fruit, trim and slice the rhubarb and put it in a large non-stick frying pan with the sugar. Place over a low heat and shake the pan every now and then, until the fruit is almost tender. Trim and slice the strawberries and add to the pan. Give the pan another shake and set aside until the mixture is lukewarm.
To make the shortcake, put the softened butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until ligt and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder together and beat in until just thoroughly mixed. Scoop two-thirds of the dough into the cake tin and press it evenly over the bottom and up the sides. The remaining dough will be used for the topping.
Spread the warm fruit over the shortcake base, then dab pinches of the remaining dough over the top, allowing a little of the fruit to peep through.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the shortcake is a light biscuit brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before upending on to a wire rack and then on to a plate.
Serve warm, cool or cold, dusted with icing sugar and with lightly whipped cream on the side.