This time of year always seems to get my inner jukebox clamouring with Christmas tunes, except with ‘strawberries’, ‘blueberries’, ‘fresh cucumber’ substituting themselves in where ‘joy and laughter’ usually go.
However, British-grown strawberries are only just in season. In that 24 hours it takes to get them from field to shelf, those that aren’t still too hard usually end up bruised and a bit squoodgy. If you’re impatient, you will convince yourself that they’re OK. Perhaps not the succulently sweet or burstingly juicy as they should be, but OK. Of course while ‘OK’ doesn’t cut it for your morning cereal, it does make them pretty perfect for baking. This weekend I found myself with just such a punnet. What other choice did I have but to take my stalwart Date and Walnut Loaf and convert it over to the berry side.
8 oz plain flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
4 oz. granulated sugar
4 oz. margarine or butter
4 oz. walnuts, chopped
4 oz. strawberries, quartered
2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 c. (soya) milk
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. brown sugar
Preheat oven to 150 C or Gas 4 and have prepared a greased one-pound tin. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar in a large bowl, then add the margarine and rub together until the mixture is crumbly in texture. Fold in the strawberries, walnuts and chocolate. Add the milk and stir until the batter is completely incorporated, and almost lofty. In a separate container, mix together the cocoa and brown sugar — I use a jar with a screw top so that I can give it a good shake.
Spoon the batter into the tin, give it a dusting of the topping and set in the oven on the next-to-lowest shelf. Bake for just under one hour or until the test knife comes out clean.
I strongly recommend that once you take it out, leave it on a cooling rack in the pan for 10 minutes, before taking it out to finish cooling.
Best enjoyed with a glass of cheeky afternoon Pimms.