Summer fruit drizzle cake

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It seems a little ironic writing this post for a Summer fruit drizzle cake when today has been decidedly autumnal. Yesterday we picked up some cheap strawberries and I decided after months of not having the time to bake anything it really was time to get back in the kitchen. The summer holidays used to be all about baking but these days they are all about play dates and keeping two energetic 18-month olds entertained! After a quick Google I did consider making this strawberry drizzle cake but had seen this BBC Good Food magazine recipe before and thought it be a good opportunity to use up some raspberries and blackberries that were in the freezer too.
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Eton Mess Cheesecake

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If you’re a fan of being British it truly is a weekend to celebrate: the start of the Euro 2016 football championships with England, Wales and Northern Ireland all being represented (let’s not dwell on England’s result too much) and the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations this weekend with Trooping the Colour yesterday and The Patron’s Lunch today. It’s a weekend to feel proud of all that’s good about our country. Yesterday we were off to a barbecue with some of my husband’s friends to watch the England game. Of course I offered to make a dessert and opted for this Eton Mess cheesecake. I first found this recipe when I was looking for recipe for an Eton Mess sponge cake which I made back in April when it was the Queen’s proper birthday for our school tea party.
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A cake fit for a Queen – Eton Mess Sponge Cake

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Thursday 21st April was a special occasion in British history. The 90th birthday of our longest reigning monarch, the Queen, Elizabeth II. We celebrated at the primary school I work at by having a tea party for the children and their parents. Obviously I knew I wanted to bake something and also wanted it to be something ‘British’. I did consider a classic Victoria sandwich but felt something a bit more extravagant would be more fitting for the occasion. After thinking a bit more I had the brainwave that Eton Mess is a typically British dessert so I could combine both a cake and dessert in one! After having a quick search on Pinterest I found a couple of recipes and opted for this one by Daisy and the Fox.
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Almond and plum slice

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Last year I made this yellow plum and vanilla jam and it has sat in the fridge ever since not being used! We are in the process of having a new kitchen and recently bought an integrated fridge/freezer which is smaller than our old one. In the process of trying to cram everything into the new fridge I decided I really had to use this jam. At the time of making it, I had seen this Jo Wheatley recipe which used plum jam. I decided it was time to give it a go. I love Jo’s recipes – there always simple and taste fantastic.
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Victoria sponge with crème patissière and gooseberry compote

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We have a couple of gooseberry bushes in our garden. They’re not looking too good at the moment as unfortunately they were obviously very tasty to some caterpillars. Luckily they still managed to produce some fruit. I was excited at this prospect as last year they produced absolutely nothing. They didn’t produce masses of fruit but I was still very excited!

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I had seen this recipe on the Delicious Magazine website ages ago and knew I wanted to give it a go. As it uses elderflower cordial, in the compote and in the creme patissiere I knew I should definitely try it to make use of the cordial I recently made.
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Chocolate raspberry brownies

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Summer is well and truly here and with that comes lots of delicious summer fruit. We have recently been visiting our local greengrocers and stocking up on lots of reasonably priced fruit. This week’s bargain were two punnets of raspberries for £1. I’d been thinking of making this recipe this weekend and so after spotting the raspberries my mind was made up! I made these brownies a couple of years ago. This is a BBC Good Food recipe.
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Having a cracking time – Nigella’s Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

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We had our friends Emma and John over for Sunday lunch today so it was time to try a new dessert. The lovely Emma is pregnant so that meant cheesecake was out. I am a bit scared of tarts (pastry – eek!) so decided that following the success of my previous pavlova it was time to try a different pavlova. I have been wanting to try Nigella’s cappuccino pavlova that featured in her Nigellissima Christmas special last year (you can find the recipe on the BBC website here or on her website here) but decided that as the sun was shining maybe something a little bit more summery/spring-like was required. After a bit of research I found Nigella’s recipe for chocolate raspberry pavlova and decided that this was the recipe to try. It’s from her Forever Summer book and can be found on her website here.

Ingredients:

For the chocolate meringue base:
6 large egg whites
300 grams caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (sieved)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
50 grams dark chocolate (finely chopped)

For the raspberry and cream topping:
500 ml double cream
500 grams raspberries
3 tablespoons dark chocolate (coarsely grated)

Method: 
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Using a plate (or ruler) draw a fat circle (approximately 23cm in diameter) onto the paper ready for the meringue,
2) Using an electric whisk or free-standing mixer beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form (Now here I ran into trouble – my egg whites just didn’t do what I wanted them to do. I had separated the eggs, wiped and washed the bowl but sadly my confidence evaporated as I was left with a foamy blob rather than satiny peaks! I can only think some rogue egg yolk had sneaked its way in. I persevered anyway but think my meringue suffered.)
3) Beat in the caster sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa, vinegar and the chopped chocolate and carefully fold in.

4) Mould on to a baking sheet in a fat circle to fit the 23cm circle drawn on the baking parchment. Smooth the sides and top. (As my meringue wasn’t quite right this was quite tricky. This was what mine looked like before it went in the oven.)

5) Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150C/ gas mark 2 and cook for about 1 – 1 1/4 hours. When it’s ready it should look crisp round the edges and on the sides and be dry on top. When you prod the centre it should feel slightly squidgy. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly open and leave the meringue to cool completely. As you can see I had some serious cracking issues. I’m not sure what I am doing wrong but I have had this problem twice now – it was cracking during the cooking rather than afterwards. I thought that it might fall apart completely but luckily it held together. If anyone can shed any light on why I am such major cracking issues I’d be very grateful!

6) When you’re ready to serve, invert it onto a large plate (ideally flat-bottomed). Whisk the cream until thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate over the top and sprinkle over.
7) Enjoy! It is delicious and was a big hit. The meringue is chewy and the cream and raspberries are the perfect topping. I would definitely recommend and make this again.

Happy baking,

Dil :-)