A student's guide to baking

Posts tagged ‘Strawberry’

Choux Pastry Buns

Strawberry and orange cream choux buns

Ingredients (makes 18):

  • 120ml water
  • 40g butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 orange, zest
  • 150g strawberries


  • Preheat the oven to 220ºC and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  • In a saucepan, heat the butter and water together over a medium heat until the butter melts. Bring the mixture to the boil before immediately removing from the heat.
  • Add in the flour when you take the mixture off the heat and stir vigorously and continuously with a wooden spoon until it forms a soft ball. Cook over a low heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from the heat once more and leave the mixture to cool. Add the eggs, beating each one in fully without adding the next, to create a shiny and smooth paste.
  • Using a piping bag, pipe the pastry into 3.5cm wide discs.
  • Bake at 220ºC for 8 minutes and then at 180ºC for 8 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the pastry inside with door ajar for a further 5 minutes.
  • Once the choux pastry has finished in the oven, take the buns out and leave them on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Whip the cream until it starts to thicken and hold its shape a little. At this point, add in the orange zest and then continue whipping the cream until it forms stiff peaks.
  • Garnish the tops with halved strawberries.

Despite the fact that neither of us had ever made choux pastry before, my girlfriend Ele and I decided one afternoon to have a go at making chocolate éclairs. Sadly we didn’t quite get it right the first time and the pastry didn’t rise as much as it should, so we ended up with éclair buns that were a bit thinner and wider than they ought to have been. We covered them in chocolate ganache and cream regardless and they still tasted just as good.


Choux pastry isn’t too complicated when it comes to the ingredients, so we decided to have another go, which yielded more successful results. Having already used a lot of the chocolate we’d planned on turning into the ganache, we changed tactics and decided to make a more simpler choux pastry bun and use some of the fruit I had instead.

It’s a fairly simple recipe, and a good one for starting off with choux pastry, as it doesn’t require quite the same structural integrity and perfect appearance that you have with an éclair. It’s also one that you can easily tailor to whatever fruit you prefer or just happen to have in the kitchen at the time. Using lighter summer fruit flavours tends to work better with the gentleness of the choux pastry, so I’d recommend at least sticking to that to begin with.

The sadly less than perfect chocolate éclairs.

The sadly less than perfect chocolate éclairs.


Victoria Sandwich

Victoria sandwich


The cake:

  • 200g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

The filling and icing:

  • 100g butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 340g strawberry jam
  • 200g strawberries, chopped
  • 400g fondant icing
  • Icing sugar for rolling


  • As always, start by preheating your oven to 180ºC, and grease two 10” cake tins.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Add in the eggs, one at a time, and sieve in the flour and baking powder. Normally you wouldn’t use baking powder if you’re already using self-raising flour, but here it helps the cake to rise that bit more and give it a particularly light texture.
  • Pour in 2 tbsp of milk and mix until smooth. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for about 20 minutes until golden and the cake springs back when pressed, or until it passes the knife test.
  • Leave the cake to cool and make a start on the icing by beating the butter until smooth and soft.
  • Sieve in the icing sugar. My other recipes usually work with a ratio of 1:2 for butter to icing sugar, but here you don’t need something as stiff and strong as you would for decoration or holding a cake together.
  • Add the vanilla extract to the buttercream for extra taste and leave to cool in the fridge.
  • Once the cakes have cooled, take the bottom layer and spread a generous amount of strawberry jam over the top.
  • Next spread the chopped strawberries evenly over the strawberry jam, making sure that they don’t go over the sides.
  • Spread the buttercream over the bottom of the remaining layer and carefully place it over the strawberries.
  • For working with the fondant icing, dust a work surface with icing sugar just as you would use flour otherwise. Work the fondant icing sugar with your hands and then a rolling pin to make it more pliable until you have a large thin layer.
  • Carefully lift the fondant icing off the work surface, draping it over the rolling pin to help carry it. Lay it gently over the cake, making sure that there are no tears in the surface.
  • Using a sharp knife, gently neaten up the edges, using the natural shape of the icing to help guide any curves you want. It’s up to you how much of the side you show, but I think it’s nice to leave some gaps to make it look like the icing has been poured on and so that you can see the strawberries inside.

(Recipe adapted from: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1997/classic-victoria-sandwich)


With the return of the Great British Bake Off to our screens, it seemed appropriate to write about this one. The recipe for this is very similar to my other Victoria sandwich recipe (see here), but presentation and structure are a little different, and the measurements vary too.

The first time I made this cake was for a college charity event, where we gathered in the common room to watch the final of the Great British Bake Off last year and there was a bake sale at the same time too. There was even a competition going for who could make the most money with their cake, where the winner would win the official Great British Bake Off cookbook. Sadly I ended up coming 2nd, losing out due to a limited quantity, even though I managed to sell out first. The event went really well and we managed to raise a lot for charity!


The state of the bake sale after half an hour... The GBBO Final hadn't even started by this point.

The state of the bake sale after half an hour… The GBBO Final hadn’t even started by this point.

The inspiration for this cake came from Series 4’s Glenn, who came up with the idea and the design of using whole strawberries and icing over the top. For the charity event it was suggested that we’d get bonus points for recreating one of the bakes from earlier in the series, so I naturally turned to cake and found Glenn’s recipe, which seemed elegant and yet not too complicated.

I also made this cake several months later for my friend Tess’ birthday. The only slight difference there was that I kept 2 small strawberries back at the end, and used them as decoration on the top of the icing. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was time between finishing it and presenting to her for me to get a photo without spoiling the surprise for her, so I don’t have a picture of that particular cake!

When I first made this, it was as I was just starting out with baking, so I can certainly recommend it as a fairly simple recipe that looks good and gets you into thinking about presentation as well.



Pimm’s Cupcakes

The perfect treat for a summer evening!

The perfect treat for a summer evening!

Ingredients (makes 12):

The cake:

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 20g cornflour
  • 115g butter
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml buttermilk (see recipe for alternative)
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 100ml orange juice

Pimm’s strawberry jelly filling:

  • 200g strawberries
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp Pimm’s

Cucumber and mint syrup:

  • 1 handful of mint, chopped
  • 12 thin slices of cucumber
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water


  • 120g butter
  • 240g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence


  • Preheat the oven to 160ºC and line a muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, followed by the orange zest and orange juice, and mix gently.
  • Sieve in the flour and cornflour, and then add the buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by adding 1
  • and a half teaspoons of lemon juice to 120ml of regular milk.
  • Beat your mix well to ensure an even consistency. It should be a fairly runny mix, so don’t worry if it seems a bit thinner than normal cupcakes.
  • Split the mix between the paper cases and bake for 30 minutes, or until they have turned a golden colour and pass the knife test.

Once the cakes are in the oven, you can make a start with the filling.

  • Blend the strawberries in a food processor and pour into a small pan through a fine sieve to remove the pips. It’ll still work if you don’t sieve it, but using one will make it much smoother.
  • Add the sugar, cornflour, and Pimm’s to the pan and heat gently.
  • Stir the mix regularly with a whisk until it becomes thick and jelly-like.
  • Leave to cool.

The syrup also requires heating in a pan, so you can make this at the same time as the Pimm’s strawberry filling.

  • Add the chopped mint and cucumber slices to a small pan. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water.
  • Heat until the water starts to bubble, then turn off the heat. Allow it to cool slightly before straining the syrup into a glass to cool fully.

For the buttercream:

  • Beat the butter first to soften it, before sieving in the icing sugar.
  • Once peaks are starting to form, add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and continue beating until the mixture is strong and stiff.
Coring the cupcakes to add the Pimm's strawberry filling.

Coring the cupcakes to add the Pimm’s strawberry filling.

Once you’ve finished making the various components, it’s time to assemble the final cakes.

  • Using a knife or corer if you have one, remove a hole from the middle of each of the cupcakes, saving the removed piece. (see below)
  • Add one teaspoon of the Pimm’s strawberry filling to the hole in each cupcake. Using the removed piece, cover the top of the hole.
  • Using a piping bag if you have one, ice the cupcakes with the buttercream.
  • Drizzle the cucumber and mint syrup over the cupcakes.
  • Decorate with sliced fresh strawberries, orange, cucumber and mint.
For decorating the finished cupcake.

For decoration to give that real Pimm’s feel to it!

The finished cupcake.

The finished cupcake!

(Recipe adapted from http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/535447/pimms-cupcakes)


After my recent endeavours with gin-flavoured cake, I thought it was time for another summery alcoholic cake!

This weekend, I went over to a friend’s house for a night of cocktails and catching up with the three of us. It’d been several months since I’d seen either of them, so it was lovely seeing them again and I decided to bake for the occasion! Off the back of recent inspiration and practice at making drinks, our wonderful hostess suggested a gin-based cocktail evening, and of course we didn’t have any objections.

Given that we were going to be drinking anyway, I thought it best to keep away from the gin drizzle cake recipe. Those who have tasted it will be able to certify that it’s rather boozy!

So instead I opted for another alcohol-inspired cake, but one that’s traditionally a little bit less alcoholic yet still associated with summer – Pimm’s. My love for Pimm’s rivals my feelings towards the mighty G&T. In my book, no summer is truly complete unless you’ve had at least a glass of Pimm’s.

Naturally then, my main worry with this cake was doing justice to the drink, particularly in balancing the various flavours, but I think this works. The different tastes sit well alongside each other and you’re left to sample serenely each of the flavours that goes into the wondrous concoction that is a glass of Pimm’s.

So relax, sit back in the summer sun and enjoy a light fruity cupcake! Cheers!



From another round of Pimm's cupcakes.

From another round of Pimm’s cupcakes.