The Main Menu: Strawberries are a treat at any time of year, but especially when freshly picked

This edition of The Main Menu features a recipe for Strawberry Shortcake in A Roll. Now is prime time for fresh-picked local strawberries.

By JAN MAIN

“The day that I pick strawberries, we have strawberry shortcake for supper!”

These were the words I heard as I bent picking the first berries of the season at my favourite strawberry farm, Whittamores. (Long gone, alas, now a subdivision!)

Yes, those fresh picked strawberries are worthy of a dinner in their honour. Sweet, juicy and sooo fragrant, all you can smell on the way home in the car is the seductive aroma of the strawberries. Mouthwatering!

Strawberry storage guidelines for future enjoyment:

• Put aside the berries you will use immediately in a bowl and refrigerate.
• Remaining strawberries should be stored unwashed in a single layer on a T-towel lined baking sheet and refrigerated until ready to use, no more than 2days.
• If you need them for longer storage, wash gently in a large bowl of cool water and dry on a T-towel
• Arrange berries on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in a single layer and freeze Once frozen remove to container large enough to hold them, usually 2 or 4 cups. Label with date and quantity. May be kept frozen for up to 1 year.

What a treat to transform frozen strawberries during a winter snow storm into a summer berry treat such as the following:

Strawberry Shortcake in a Roll

This “roll” is made from sponge cake mixture and cooked in a 10 x15 inch jelly roll pan.

If you do not have a jelly roll pan (rimmed baking sheet), simply use a 9- inch (23 cm) round cake pan lined with parchment paper to produce a standard round strawberry shortcake.

Jelly Roll (sponge cake)

1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (1 mL) salt
3 large eggs
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) orange juice
1 tsp (5 mL) grated orange rind
Whipped Cream and Strawberries
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) whipping cream
6 tbsp (75 mL) sifted icing sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
4 cups (L) fresh strawberries

Line 15×10 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 F (180C).

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.

In separate bowl using an electric mixer, beat eggs until thick and light coloured. Gradually beat in sugar until eggs thicken and become creamy in colour. Stir in orange juice and rind. Gradually beat in flour mixture until smooth. Pour into prepared pan smoothing with a spatula until even and right out to edges.

Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and springs back when touched in the center.

Meanwhile, spread a clean T-towel on the counter and sieve icing sugar generously over towel. Once jelly roll is backed, loosen cake around the edges of the pan with a knife; immediately invert over T-towel. Remove pan then gently ease the parchment paper away from the cake; discard paper.

Use the towel to help roll the cake. Starting at the short end of the T-towel gently roll the t-towel with the cake into jelly roll shape and allow to cool. (Tip: This may be done a day ahead.) If you have more than 8 people to serve, roll the sponge cake lengthwise to get more servings.

Whipped Cream

While cake is cooling, prepare whipped cream. In a deep bowl (Tip: A 750 mL plastic yogurt container works well for this), beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

Gradually beat in sifted icing sugar and vanilla. Continue until stiff peaks are formed. (TIP: turn container upside down and cream will not fall out – then you know it is stiff!)

Slice 2 cups of strawberries and put aside. Take 1 cup of whipped cream and put it aside. Once the jelly roll has cooled, unroll and gently remove T-towel. (Tip: Vigorously shake T-towel outside before washing- it will be full of sugar!)

Using spatula, spread the non-reserved whipped cream on the inside of jelly roll and arrange sliced strawberries on top. Re- roll. Gently place on a rectangular serving tray.

If possible, pipe reserved whipping cream in a row of large rosettes along the top of the jelly roll and garnish each with a strawberry point side up. Garnish around the base of the cake with any reserved strawberries and fresh mint sprigs.

Cover loosely with wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, preferably that day. Makes 8 servings.


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