On Monday just gone we had tickets to go and see the excellent Bitter Ruin in concert at the Sugar Club. They had appealed via their site for people who would be willing to house them during their time in Dublin. While we couldn't provide them somewhere to stay, I did offer to give them a good old feed. In the end though their hosts were providing them with dinner, so I thought I would bring along a little dessert for them instead.
As it was Bord Bia's National Strawberry Week, I was inspired to make them some mini sponge cakes filled with cream and delicious Irish strawberries. The result was pretty to look at and a little bit of heaven in your mouth. It was nice to see that the band thought so too.
The sponge in this recipe is an older version of Delia Smith's All-in-One Sponge as found in her Complete Cookery Course. It's really simple, and just perfect to showcase the strawberries to their best.
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Sieve (or not, I am very lazy about sieving) the flour into a bowl and add the baking powder.
Add in the butter, sugar and eggs.
Mix together by hand or using a hand blender. Add in the vanilla essence and stir it through the mixture.
Take your baking tray and place the bun cases into the depressions. This recipe makes 12 large buns, so you should only need one tray.
Divide the mixture between the cases and put the tray into the oven for 25 minutes or until the buns have turned golden brown.
When the buns are ready, take them out of the oven and let cool in the tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
While the buns are cooling. Hull and slice your strawberries, keeping to one side 12 nice slices to decorate the top of the cakes with. Whip the cream, I used a balloon whisk as I find I stop at a softer whip than when I use a hand mixer. You want the cream to softly whisked for easy spreading later.
When the buns are cool, remove their paper cases and cut them into two pieces, cutting them closer to the top than the bottom.
Blob a heaped teaspoon of cream on the bottom half and smear a small amount on the underside of the top of the bun. Place some strawberry pieces on the lower part and sandwich the top on.
Put another little blob of cream on the top of the bun and carefully place one of your good slices of strawberry on it. When you have finished all the cakes, dredge or sieve icing sugar over the top.
Sit back and enjoy with a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Perfect for afternon tea on the lawn, if the sun ever comes out again.