First, let me just say that I, like millions of other people around the world, I cannot WAIT for the World Cup to start. Of course I'll be cheering for Mexico on Friday, but but what I'm really excited about is the England v USA game on Saturday evening. Being an English gal who spent most of her life in the US, I'd like to say I'm a little torn about who to cheer for, but I'm not. That game however, will be the only match that will see me cheering against the States. Unless of course England and the US are both in the final, which let's face it, isn't very likely.
We're going to watch over at my oldest childhood friend's house with her family and we're going to pig out on fish and chips. I'm going to make some red velvet and white chocolate cake balls to take along as treats, so we've got both countries' cuisines covered. I've never made cake balls before, so if they turn out well, I'll post them. I think it might be fun to theme our coming weekly menus on the teams playing that day, but I might get a little opposition from my picky eater husband who doesn't like football. (I know, you're thinking "Tell us again why you married him?")
So anyway, the coming months promises to be exciting and interesting both for the footie and for the food. Historically, I'm not my most productive during the World Cup, but at least I can post recipes during half time.
Now, on with today's recipe....
It's such a shame that strawberries lose their vibrant red colour when they're baked, instead turning into something that looks like it should be bandaged and given antibiotics.
I actually made this upside down cake because I had a can of apricots that were taking up precious space in my store cupboard and I wanted to use them up. I had bought some fantastic vanilla beans at the London Foodie Festival and thought that the three flavours of vanilla, apricot and strawberry would make a lovely, summery combination and I was right.
This is lovely served either chilled or at room temperature and is delicious with ice cream.
Apricot, Strawberry and Vanilla Upside Down Cake
serves 8-12, takes 1 hour, 20 mins +cooling
1 can halved apricots in fruit juice
400g (14oz) fresh, ripe strawberries, hulled and halved
250g (1/4lb) unsalted butter, softened
250g (1/4lb) plain flour
4 large eggs, room temp
250g (1/4lb) golden caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 large vanilla bean
1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
1 tbsp flavourless veg oil
2 pinches, salt
Preheat the oven to 170C (340F) and grease a deep pie dish or casserole with butter.
Place the strawberries and apricot halves round-side-down in the bottom of the dish and heat the juice from the can of apricots in a small saucepan, reducing to the consistency of maple syrup.
Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with electric beaters for 4-5 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs in, one at a time and beat in well between each addition, then beat in the oil and the pinch of salt.
Scrape the contents of the vanilla bean into the bowl and add the vanilla extract, beating well to combine.
Sift in the flour, baking powder and soda and mix well enough to combine thoroughly, but not longer than necessary, so as not to toughen the final product.
Pour the fruit juice syrup over the fruit in the dish and scrape in the cake batter. Spread it out evenly, with a slight depression in the centre, to compensate for the rise.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean and there is no more bubbling.
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely before turning it out onto a large plate.
Put on an Astrud Gilberto CD and have a nibble in the garden.