Since the Platinum Jubilee Pudding Competition made the headlines recently – a trifle made with lemon Swiss roll and amaretti was crowned winner – we asked Charlie Hibbert at Thyme what would be on his list of winning desserts.

Choosing a favourite was tricky.  Dessert tuition was intense in the Hibbert household, and one that has become a perennial favourite is Granny’s meringue cake – the perfect vehicle for seasonal fruit throughout the year, served with lashings of cream.  Chocolate mousse, crème caramel, lemon cream puff and all the tarts (quince, custard, Tatin) were all serious contenders, but it was his strawberry shortcake that won the day.

He thinks that the Queen would rather enjoy eating this.  Nothing says Great British like strawberries, and we have a sneaking suspicion that Charlie may be right.

Charlie Hibbert at Thyme’s strawberry shortcake

Serves 4 (freeze any spare shortcake mix for future use)

For the shortcake

  • 200g butter
  • 125g caster sugar with a little extra to the for dusting
  • 125g plain flour
  • 200g blanched almonds
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Method

  • Grind the almonds in a food processor until reasonably fine – around 1 ½ minutes.  Don’t worry about a few chunky bits… they add to the texture.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until pale and creamy.
  • Add the almonds, lemon zest and flour into the butter and sugar and slowly mix together to a uniform consistency.
  • Using a couple of pieces of greaseproof paper underneath and over the top, roll the mixture into a round “sausage” (or two), about 4cm in diameter, wrap in the paper and allow to chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Next...

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (normal) | 160°C (fan) | gas mark 4.
  • Once chilled, slice the roll into 1cm slices and arrange them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  • Place the tray in the oven and allow the biscuits to cook for 8 minutes, or until they each have a lovely golden ring on the outer edge of each shortcake.  Remove from the oven and scatter with a little caster sugar, then leave them to cool.

For the lemon curd

  • 4 lemons, juiced
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 120g butter
  • 3 large eggs

Method

  • Fill a small pan a third of the way full.  Place it over a medium heat to come to a simmer.  Put all the ingredients except the egg into a heatproof bowl and place it over the pot.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together.  Once the butter has melted in the other pot, quickly whisk the eggs into the rest of the ingredients. Using a spatula, keep stirring the mix until it has become thick and coats the back of a spoon.
  • Transfer the lemon curd into a container and cover with a square of greaseproof paper to prevent it forming a skin, and allow it to cool completely.

To finish

  • 200ml of double cream, whipped to soft peaks
  • 1 punnet of strawberries, stems removed and strawberries halved
  • 1 tub of vanilla ice cream
  • (And a dusting of icing sugar and a couple of edible flowers if you fancy)

Place a small dot of cream on the plate and push a shortcake into it.  The cream will stop any slipping.  Next add a small spoonful of cream and a scoop of ice cream.  Arrange the strawberries around the ice cream, then top everything with a spoonful of lemon curd and an extra spoonful of cream.  Finish with a second shortcake to complete the sandwich, dust with a touch of icing sugar, adorn with a flower or two and serve. Et voilà, your strawberry shortcake may be served.

 

Assuming that other British favourite – the weather – is on side for the Queen’s Jubilee, the Ox Barn terrace at Thyme will be swinging into action.  Tables on the terrace are not bookable – they’re available on a first come, first served basis, but prioritised for people who’ve booked in to dine.  Open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Sunday, book the Ox Barn at www.thyme.co.uk | 01367850174 | reservations@thyme.co.uk

 

To see other delicious recipes, please click here.