Strawberry season is almost coming to an end so it’s time to make the most of those delicious berries in your baking!
At the moment I’m trying really hard to concentrate on the fruit and veg that’s in season and where possible predominantly cook in a seasonal way if I can. It doesn’t always happen of course (there are definitely certain veg we always fall back on) but with fruit especially the difference in taste is amazing. I’m becoming so much more aware of where all of our shop bought food comes from and it’s a bit scary at times to think of how far items that we call ‘fresh’ have come before they land in our supermarkets (and what has ultimately been applied to them to keep them looking and tasting fresh!). It’s no wonder really that strawberries don’t taste as good out of season!
Over summer one of the best ways to get your hands on fresh fruit is to pick your own locally. There are so many PYO farms near us in Manchester which I just love, but their popularity means they’re popping up all over the country too so definitely check out what’s near you. We visited early one morning for a spot of strawberry picking (although there was also raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, the works) and had such a wonderful day out. We had our lovely friend Rosie come along to take some family photos of us too (blog post on those incoming soon as we’re so chuffed with all of them), the sun was shining (so much so Husband and I got a tad burnt – eek) and Evie had an absolute blast!
We spent an hour or so in the fields picking (obviously it wouldn’t need to take that long, but we were snapping photos and letting Evie enjoy herself) and ended up with two large punnets which cost us £8. Now at first I thought £8 on strawberries was a tad excessive. I mean we’d never spend that much in the supermarket. But, we hadn’t spent anything to get into the farm, took a picnic with us for lunch and had a great family day out. Plus I managed to make a whole host of tasty creations from those two punnets of strawberries, so all in all it was more than worth it. I honestly wish we could buy all of our fruit and veg locally like this, but for us as a family on a budget it’s not always possible. However over summer, combining it with a fun day out like this is a total no brainer.
I used all of our strawberries up in the following recipes as we had friends over that weekend and I was in need of some snack items for Evie and I the following week, but of course you could also freeze your haul for a later date, use them in smoothies or ice lollies, or simply devour them fresh!
I’m currently still on a wheat and dairy free diet right now as I try to get to the bottom of some ongoing dietary ailments so each of the recipes I’ve featured are made without any dairy or wheat products (and no added nonsense either, I like simplicity when baking). You can of course switch back to regular flour/cream etc within the recipe if you need to though.
Here’s my top three ways to use your strawberries this summer…
Gluten and Dairy Free Strawberry Crumble
I love a crumble, it’s such a warming dessert. Using strawberries gives it a summer twist and I’m so pleased to have found a delicious crumble topping recipe that doesn’t include wheat or dairy. My husband didn’t even notice the difference that’s how good it was. You basically subsitute butter for coconut oil and use gluten free oats along with chopped almonds for the crunch (you could use any nuts you’re partial to). It was quick and easy to make and we got around 3 portions out of each of these small dishes.
What you’ll need
1lb of strawberries, chopped
2 tbsp of cornflour
1 tsp lemon juice
2 -3 tbsp of brown sugar (or maple syrup)
50g / 1/2 cup raw almonds
140g/ 1 cup almond meal (you could also use gluten free flour)
100g/ 1/2 cup coconut oil
40g/ 1/2 cup gluten free oats (you could also use coconut flakes)
3 tbsp brown sugar (or maple syrup)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
How it’s done
1. Chop the strawberries and mix in a bowl with the lemon juice, cornflour and brown sugar then arrange in a baking dish (I used two small but you could also make one large). Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Blend the almonds in a food processor until crumbs form, then mix with the rest of the dry topping ingredients
3. Add the coconut oil and bind together into a crumbly texture (you may need to add a drop of gluten free flour if it’s too sticky
4. Spread the crumble topping over your prepared strawberries then bake for 30-35 mins until crumble is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
5. Dish up and serve with your choice of vegan ice cream/ dairy free custard or coconut yoghurt
Alternative: Switch back to butter if dairy free isn’t needed/ you want to avoid too much oil and of course mix things up with any fruit you like. I made these individual pear crumbles a couple of summers ago which were delicious!
Strawberry Pavlova (with Coconut Cream)
Before cutting out dairy, pavlova was always my go to for a quick summer dessert. I’d always rustle one up when friends were coming over or take it to summer get togethers. It’s so easy, everyone loves it and if it doesn’t turn out that well, you’ve always got Eton Mess to fall back on.
When in Amsterdam last year I was served pancakes with coconut cream in one cafe and had been intrigued by it ever since so decided to try and bring pavlova back into my life by giving whipped coconut cream a go instead of double cream. Now I’ll admit, it took three attempts and the final result wasn’t as thick as I’d have liked but when piled onto the meringue and topped with strawberries t definitely worked. There’s a bit of a knack to seperating the can of coconut milk which involves refridgerating overnight (what I didn’t do in take one) and even then it doesn’t always work (take two) as it can depend on the quality of the coconut milk. Next time I think I’ll buy a can of coconut cream and save myself the hassle but once you’ve got the cream seperated it whips fairly easily. The only thing I’d say is that it’s definitely a runnier texture than regular cream, and won’t keep as long as it starts to evaporate back to a milk texture after a day or so. We more or less finished the pavlova on day one anyway between friends, but the slice I did have left over had gone pretty mushy by day two so just something to bear in mind.
What you’ll need
5 egg whites
250g caster sugar
1tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
3tbsp icing sugar
1 can coconut milk
a few tbsp icing sugar
How it’s done
1. Preheat the oven to 150C and cover a circular baking tray with greaseproof paper
2. Seperate your eggs and whisk up the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then whisk in the sugar, a small amount at a time until glossy
3. add in the white wine vinegar, cornflour and vanilla extract
4. Dollop the meringue in a large circle shape on your baking tray, and make a slight dip in the centre with the sides higher (too add your filing later)
5. Bake for 1 hour (try to resist the urge to open the door and check on it as this will release the air and make your meringue flat), then turn the oven off and leave to cool completely inside the oven
6. Chop 100g of strawberries and mix with the icing sugar. Place in a food processor and blitz until smooth, chop the rest of the strawberries
7. For the coconut cream you’ll need to leave your can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, the night before you plan to serve your pavlova. Remove from the fridge, turn upside down and open the can from the bottom. If all goes to plan, you should see the watery section of the coconut milk at the top of the can. Pour this away and you should be left with the hard coconut cream.
8. Place your coconut cream in a mixer and whip until light peaks form, then add the icing sugar to sweeten (if it doesn’t thicken it’s perhaps because some of the water from the can didn’t seperate or because the coconut cream wasn’t quite right – always choose full fat and try to avoid the ones with added gum – you can add some cornflour to thicken of you need to)
9. Spread your coconut cream over the cooled meringue, then top with the remaining chopped strawberries before drizzling with your blended strawberry coulis
10. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve
Alternative: Switch to regular double cream if dairy free isn’t needed (you’ll make your life a lot easier when trying to whip), or if you don’t want a full pavlova then simply make a couple of smaller meringues, crush them up, add some double cream and chuck in your strawberries for an easy Eton Mess.
Gluten and Dairy Free Strawberry Muffins
An ideal snack idea if, like me, you can no longer indulge in many of the biscuits and cakes you used to due to allergies. Also great for littles too (I omitted the sugar and used maple syrup instead to make them a little more toddler friendly), and easy to freeze so you can just take a couple out for lunch boxes etc each day. The first batch of these I made using gluten free flour as I didn’t have ground almonds but I must admit they turned out a little dry so I’d keep the ground almonds in if you can. If you’ve got a nut allergy though, you can use alternative flours, you might just need to add more liquid to the mixture to bring it together (I added a little almond milk to loosen it).
What you’ll need
500g strawberries, chopped
150g sugar (swap this for 3 tbsp maple syrup if making for littles)
200g almond meal
30g coconut oil
2 tbsp baking powder
How it’s done
1. Preheat oven to 180c. Add eggs, sugar, and oil together in a mixer before adding almond meal, and baking powder and combining (if too sticky/thick then add a little dairy free milk to loosen)
2. Fold in chopped strawberries
3. Divide between your cupcake moulds (I got around 12 large and 8 mini)
4. Bake for around 15-20 mins until golden brown and firm to touch
Alternative: You can of course swap to regular flour if you don’t need these to be gluten free, and the addition of chocolate would be delicious if you don’t need to worry about dairy. In fact I previously blogged this recipe for white chocolate and raspberry muffins which were great!
What’s your favourite way to use strawberries over summer? Please do pass on your go to recipes!