Lockdown Birthday Strawberry Shortcake (purists look away now)

Today is my birthday, and I admit, it’s a bit of a strange one. The weather has been amazing, the sky has barely seen a cloud. Normally it would be cocktails with the girls, a trip to one my favourite restaurants, maybe a spot of shopping…this year has been unusual but we must follow government advice (and it does give me an excuse for another celebration after lockdown).

I’ve made the best of it, starting with a glass of Bucks Fizz with bacon and scrambled eggs, put on a pretty frock, applied make-up for the first time in forever and made the best of it. There’s been lots of lounging around in the garden, reading through favourite recipe books, plenty of delicious food and drink, and some rather excellent, though entirely inauthentic Strawberry Shortcakes (recipe below) served for afternoon tea with a glass of Pimms.

Now looking forward to dinner, and making a pretty decent effort. The Wild Mushroom and Chicken Liver Parfait is chilling in the fridge, the beef is waiting to be Bourguignan-ed and all that will be finished with a rich chocolate mousse and accompanied by a few glasses of a good red, so really, the day’s been kind and although I’m celebrating under lockdown I am fortunate to have my family about me, the advantage of multi-generational living.

Recipe for Strawberry Shortcakes (Purists looks away now)

Aside from the classic cartoon character from my childhood, I’d never really considered exactly what Strawberry Shortcakes were, I suppose I always thought it was just an American word for Scone, however they are actually quite different.

Most recipes include an egg, however, this is an egg-free recipe, mainly due to the challenge in acquiring eggs these days, but it works very well….and we must all make lockdown allowances.

I made mine using Shipton Mill spelt flour, which I was lucky enough to order in a 25kg sack just before lockdown began. I use spelt for all my baking as I find that it is easier to digest, the Roman army which marched on its stomach, marched on a diet of spelt bread, so it obviously has its advantages.

Makes 6

8oz (227g) white spelt Flour

1 heaped tsp of baking powder

2oz (57g) butter

1oz (28g) caster sugar

5fl oz (150ml) full cream milk (Jersey for preference)

Heat your over to 180 degrees c

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and rub in the butter

add the sugar and bring the mix together with the milk to form a soft dough

Roll out to 1.5 cm thick and using a cutter or a wine glass, cut into 6 (or more) circles

Brush with a little milk and bake for approximately 10 minutes until golden brown and gently risen then cool on a rack until just warm

For the Orange Flower and Vanilla Cream

Whisk 250ml (1/2 pt) of double cream with 1 tsp of orange flour water, 20g (3/4 of an oz) icing sugar 1/4 tsp of good vanilla extract, until thick (be careful not to over whip or you’ll end up with butter)

Slice 150g (5oz) of strawberries and dredge with a little icing sugar, leave to macerate for a few minutes

Split the warm shortcakes and fill with whipped cream and strawberries

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