The bank holiday was a pretty glorious few days where the sun shone beautifully over London and it seemed like everyone took the opportunity to go out on a long walk, catch up with friends and tried to get some much needed vitamin D soaking up the sunrays beating down.
A few weeks ago we finally got around to bringing one of our wedding presents back to London. It’s awful to think that we were so very spoilt with so many gifts on our wedding day nearly 3 years ago, but due to a lack of space, they still sit in boxes at my parents. Each time we head back, we try to have another look to see what else we can fit in and it was an absolute priority that the BBQ came back with us last time we visited.
There is a long-standing debate over the merits of a charcoal versus a gas BBQ. I know of course that charcoal gives the meat an amazing flavor and blokes feel doubly manly creating fire and burning meat. But. Let’s be honest. Being able to fire up the gas and getting the BBQ on right away is far more convenient. Plus it means I’m not waiting for Will to arrive home to build a fire (because getting a charcoal BBQ going really isn’t in my skill set) and can get on with getting the meat cooked ready for his return from another long day at work.
For the bank holiday Monday we invited a couple of friends round, one being the person who kindly bought us the BBQ in the first place (it seemed only fair) and got the BBQ fired up for the first time. Burgers in buns with slabs of cheddar oozing over the side, sausages with lashings of ketchup and a gorgeous fresh curry egg salad (instead of the usual coleslaw) was devoured in record time. Pretty perfect you might say.
The only thing that topped the lunch was the dessert served up (in my opinion). I’ve written previously that for our wedding cake we decided to have a tower of cheesecakes that not only looked stunning but tasted divine. And with our wedding anniversary in mind in a few weeks time, when my monthly delivery of BBC Good Food Magasine landed on my doormat this week and I saw the front cover, it was inevitable that I was going to have to make it… Strawberry and almond cheesecake sponge.
I can put my hands up and say that it doesn’t look quite as pretty as the picture on the cover, but I don’t think it impacted on the taste. The cream cheese filling made it incredibly light and meant that actually you didn’t need any extra cream on the side, although I’m sure there would be nothing wrong if you did fancy a drizzle of cream to accompany your slice.
The strawberry flavour was still evident even on baking which I know can sometimes drain out the fresh flavour you get from strawberries. And with an springy almond sponge, I think you can never go far wrong.
Perfect end to a lovely few days.
Strawberry and almond cheesecake sponge
Taken from May 2014 BBC Good Food Magasine
175g soft butter
250g caster sugar
4 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
75g full-fat natural yoghurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g strawberries, hulled and sliced
Handful flaked, toasted almonds
For the cheesecake blobs
200g full-fat cream cheese
25g caster sugar
1 large egg
Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line the base of a 23cm cake tin.
Begin by mixing the ingredients for the cheesecake ‘blobs’ in a bowl but be careful not to over mix as it will just become runny very quickly.
In a separate large mixing bowl, add your butter, sugar, eggs, flour, ground almonds, yoghurt, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Beat the mixture together until it has a smooth consistency.
Scrape half of this mixture into your cake tin and flatten out as best you can. Scatter with half your strawberries and then dollop on blobs of half of your cream cheese mixture.
Pour on the remaining cake mixture but try to be as careful as possibly not to disturb your strawberries or cream cheese.
Scatter on your remaining strawberries and dollop on the cheesecake mixture that you’ve got left before scattering on the top a handful of flaked almonds.
Bake for 50 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean.
Cool for 20 minutes in the tin before turning out.
Delicious warm or cold, or the next day if you manage to have some left.