I have a confession to make. I’m obsessed with Wimbledon. The oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Hosted each year by the All England Lawn Tennis Club. So deep is my obsession that I have just spent the better part of the past two weeks bleary eyed and sleep deprived watching live coverage of all the tennis action through the early hours of the morning. No mean feat considering that here on the other side of the world that coverage doesn’t commence until 11 pm and with rain delays can extend to the breaking dawn of a brand new day.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere we might be shivering through the depths of winter, but over in merry England it’s high summer. Not surprisingly the tournament is also synonymous with strawberries and cream. If popular legend is to be believed this delectable pairing was first introduced to court side crowds by King George V in the early 1900’s. Today the eating of strawberries and cream at Wimbledon has become a quaint but charming tradition. So much so last year alone crowds consumed a mind boggling 28,o00 kilos of strawberries along with 7,000 litres of cream.
How fortuitous, therefore, that this week a bumper crop of luscious strawberries from sunny Far North Queensland have flooded the markets. Inspired by Wimbledon, here is my take on strawberries and cream. Individual Strawberry Shortcakes With Creme Fraiche. Melt in your mouth delicious; the strategy is simple. Bake ahead and store the shortcakes in an airtight container. They are then ready to be easily assembled. At a moment’s inclination. Day or night.
Individual Strawberry Shortcakes With Creme Fraiche
Makes 10 Shortcakes
1 block (250g) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 carton (300 ml) pouring cream
2 2/3 cups (400g) plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 punnets (500g) strawberries, hulled and sliced, to serve
1 cup creme fraiche, to serve
2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted, for dusting
PREHEAT oven to 180 C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.
SIFT together flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl.
USE fingertips to rub butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
COMBINE cream and vanilla extract in a jug. Slowly add to the butter and flour mixture. Using a flat-bladed knife mix until the dough just begins to come together.
TURN dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth and elastic.
ROLL out dough with the palm of your hand or with a rolling pin to 1cm – 1.25cm thickness.
USING an 8 cm (diameter) round cutter, stamp out 10 shortcakes.
PLACE the shortcakes, spaced at least 3cm apart, on the prepared oven trays.
BAKE in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes until risen and lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container until required.
TO SERVE, spread a generous dollop of creme fraiche over each shortcake, top with sliced strawberries and a dusting of icing sugar.