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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Baking for Beginners: Strawberry Stack

2011 is the year of the strawberry, with the recent hot weather producing a glut of gorgeous red berries. I foresee a jam making frenzy at Domestic Sluttery HQ in the very near future, but in the meantime we've been indulging in these triple-decker creamy pastry towers.

Putting vinegar on your strawberries may sound strange, but it's a great way to perk up the flavour. Plus, balsamic vinegar is very sweet. If you really don't fancy that, do as the Italians do and use lemon juice.

Strawberry Stack (serves 4)

You'll need:

For the pastry
  • 1 egg
  • 110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 55g icing sugar
  • 250g flour
  • A drop of vanilla essence
For the filling
  • 16 strawberries, washed, topped and quartered
  • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 250ml double cream
Make it!
  • Start with the pastry. Sift the icing sugar over the butter, then beat together until creamy (you can do this in a mixer if you're feeling lazy). Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Don't worry if it looks curdled.
  • Mix in the flour, until the dough comes together into a smooth yet slightly sticky paste.
  • Roll it into a ball, then squash it so it forms a disk. Put it in the fridge to rest for at least 1 hour.
  • When the dough has rested, roll it out and cut out 12 rounds. Put them on a baking tray lined with parchment. Pop them back in the fridge for another 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180c / Gas 4.
  • Bake the pastry rounds for around 15 minutes, depending on thickness. When ready they should be going slightly golden round the edges. Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool.
  • Now for the strawberries. Just sprinkle them with the sugar and vinegar and leave them for at least 30 minutes for the flavours to develop.
  • When you're ready to serve, whip the double cream until it forms soft peaks. Drain the strawberries in a sieve, then make a stack of pastry, cream and strawberries.
  • Dust with icing sugar if you're feeling fancy.

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