There’s nothing quite so depressing as entering and leaving the office in the dark. The shift in seasons in the past couple of weeks has brought about some happy changes (the fiery red trees on my way into work; the increased amount of guilt-free shepherd’s pie I can consume; the emergence of my multi-coloured scarf box from the cupboard under the stairs) but all the same, the cold and gloom can be wearing. I decided to make a stand this weekend against the encroaching winter, and bake something light and summery. And so I turned to the strawberry shortcake, in Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.

(An aside: I watched Nigella’s new TV programme, Nigella Kitchen, the other day. She’s a funny old bean, isn’t she? I never suspected she had so many quirks and mannerisms just from reading her books. It was great entertainment. And honestly, while I have a great deal of fondness for her, I wasn’t at all ready to see her floating around in a silky black dressing-gown. Not at all the proper attire for cooking or entertaining a camera man, I’d have thought.)

Back to the shortcake. This is an American recipe hovering somewhere between scone and sponge, and I’m an enthusiastic fan of both. The ingredients for the dough are straightforward: I had most of them already. The first excitement came with the instruction to freeze and then grate the butter into the flour and sugar, an intriguing novelty. It’s much easier to rub in the butter when it’s in a hundred tiny yellow curls, I discovered. It looked like a bad stage wig, sat obliviously in the mixing bowl.   

I did make one mistake (I didn’t want to break with tradition): the recipe calls for one large egg, beaten, and one egg white, beaten. When the instruction came to stir the egg into the cream, I naturally thought it meant all the egg, and that an extra bit of egg white was required. And then I saw that the egg white was for brushing on the squashy rounds before they go into the oven. Too late: I already had a too-sticky, too-eggy dough in the bowl. I added more flour, scraped the gunk from my hands and forehead, and carried on, and the shortcakes didn’t noticeably suffer. Perhaps they are supposed to be lighter without the extra egg.

The cooking time is wonderfully short – just enough to chop a few strawberries and whip the cream – and then you split them in half, sandwich the strawberries and cream inside, and cram them into your mouth in a delicious, gooey mess. The dough makes ten, and they’re big enough that eating one is pleasant, and eating two is slightly sick-making (you only feel sick afterwards, though, so do carry on).

Deliciousness: Dreamily lovely. Close your eyes and you could be in the garden on a deck-chair in the sun, with nary a scarf in sight.

Complexity: Assuming you don’t over-egg the pudding, it’s not terribly difficult. If, like me, you tend to whip your cream for slightly too long, there is a remedy: save a little of the cream unwhipped, and blend it in at the end. It should loosen enough to get a spoon in…

Washing-up pile: Fifteen items, some of which were for serving (strawberry bowls and the like).

Casualties: My dessicated hands, after washing up three times in very hot, creamy water. I will be auditioning for a bit part in The Mummy next week.

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