A Psychedelic Strawberry Jubilee
Posted by the Cake Shop
There’s a feeling of festivity in the air as we draw closer to the Jubilee. Is it the extra bank holiday, or is it the return of (according to The Flavour Thesaurus) ‘the most popular berry in the world’?
Though I’ve no strong feelings about the royal family, there’s something about their impact on British food culture that fascinates me. Consider coronation chicken as a concept – or, as I’ve just discovered, the fact that this Jubilee has its own official trifle. The only problem is that I can never remember which Jubilee it’s supposed to be. Gold? Platinum? Palladium? As far as I’m concerned, it’s strawberry.
After all, as a foreigner it seems like the only thing that provokes as much nationwide giddiness as a royal celebration is the arrival of British strawberry season. Those berries are a marker in the year – and though I know for some it’s sacrilege to eat them any other way than fresh, with a simple pouring cream and a pinch of sugar at the very most, I can’t resist the urge to experiment.
Finding ways to bake, pickle, prepare and preserve this special ingredient allows me to prolong its joy and draw out its full capacity for flavour. Strawberries take on a deeper, richer profile when roasted, which works well in both sweet and savoury combinations. You’ll see both currently in the shop – we’ve got roasted strawberry and pickled rhubarb muffins on the counter, and a spinach wrap with roasted strawberry mayo, za’atar, falafel, cucumber and smoky roasted beetroot as a lunch option.
As far as preserving goes, my simple fail-safe is to toss a bunch of strawberries in a big jar with some booze and leave them at the back of the fridge. The preserved fruit and the sweet, boozy liquid make beautiful ingredients which keep for months, so I always have something special when someone comes to me for a wedding cake. I’ve been reading Preserving the Japanese Way for tips on how to make my own strawberry drinking vinegar, and browsing The Flavour Thesaurus for flavour concepts for homemade strawberry jam. We made raspberry and violet jam at the shop in early spring; now the idea of strawberry anise is rocking my world.
To launch the strawberry Jubilee celebrations, we’ll be serving a strawberry special: brioche with roasted strawberries, cucumber and cream, accompanied by a limited edition strawberry drink. I don’t think it should end there though. I want an official banner, with a big psychedelic strawberry on it. I want an official song – I’m thinking ‘Itchycoo Park’ by Small Faces (‘I feel inclined to blow my mind/Get hung up, feed the ducks with a bun’). And I definitely want an official trifle – maybe something with strawberries and lilac cream. I recently discovered someone online who pickles magnolia blossoms, and since then I’ve been dreaming of a pickled lilac. Let’s see where the summer of the strawberry Jubilee takes us. It’s all too beautiful.