Seeing that word on my favourite country market's sign means one thing: summer.
Even though summer officially arrives in about two weeks, to me and other food-loving locals, hearing Trevor's shop is open for the season means that summer is for all intents and purposes...here.
In amongst onions, peppers, apples and other fruits and vegetables which winter well, were signs of warmer weather: asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries. Peas will soon arrive. Next month a whole host of other crops will appear.
But moreso than any other hot weather weather crop, finding local strawberries in punnets and baskets signals a fleeting few weeks of snow-less weather has arrived.
It's still early in the season. The berries aren't quite as sweet as they will be in a couple of weeks, but they are much more like precious little gems than what the chain stores have on their shelves throughout the year.
I couldn't resist. I bought a punnet of berries and a bundle of rhubarb stalks. I've always loved their sweet-sour combination--not to mention the gorgeous deep pink colour they take on when baked in pies or cooked in jams.
This time I decided to make some mini-buckles--fruited cakes with a bit of a streusel topping, thus named for the cake's buckled appearance. The finished cake has a bit of a sweet, crunchy top; a tart soft fruit layer, and a dense vanilla cake base. The combination is (I think) absolutely fitting for an afternoon tea break....in a garden...in the sunshine.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Mini Buckles
For the Topping
50g (60ml/0.25c) sugar
30g (60ml/0.25c) cake flour
30g (30ml/2Tbsp) cold butter
For the fruit:
130g (310ml/1.25c) chopped strawberries (fresh or thawed)
80g (180ml/.75c) chopped rhubarb
2-4Tbsp (30-60ml) sugar, to taste
For the cakes:
2Tbsp (30ml) yoghurt
6Tbsp (90ml) milk
1tsp (5ml) vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
100g (125ml/0.5c) sugar
55g (60ml/0.25c) softened butter
2Tbsp (30ml) flavourless oil
2 eggs, beaten
227g (430ml/1.75c/0.5lb) cake flour
0.25tsp (1ml) salt
Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
Line a 12-bowl cupcake tin with papers. and set aside
For the topping:
Rub together the sugar, flour and butter so everything is combined, but in varied pebble sizes (from grains of sand to no bigger than a pea). Refrigerate until you're ready to bake.
For the fruit:
Combine the strawberries and rhubarb with as much sugar as the berries dictate.
For the cakes:
Mix together the milk, yoghurt and vanilla. Set aside
Cream together sugar, butter and oil. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the the flour and by this point the curdled cream the the usual alternating method (flour-milk-flour-milk-flour), scraping down the bowl's sides between each addition.
Divide evenly between the cupcake bowls and level the batter as best as you can. Spoon equal amounts of the fruit mixture onto each cake. Cover with the topping.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the topping has turned a light golden colour and an inserted cake tester comes out cleanly.
- As with pretty much anything using strawberries, try to use in-season strawberries. Better still, try and find local strawberries. If you're doing this out-of-season, then you may need more sugar.
- If you'd rather turn this into one large buckle to slice, this recipe will proffer a 20cm (8") round buckle