Mrs. Elton, in all her apparatus of happiness, her large bonnet and her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, accepting, or talking—strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of.—”The best fruit in England—every body’s favourite—always wholesome.—These the finest beds and finest sorts.—Delightful to gather for one’s self—the only way of really enjoying them.—Morning decidedly the best time—never tired—every sort good—hautboy infinitely superior—no comparison—the others hardly eatable—hautboys very scarce—Chili preferred—white wood finest flavour of all—price of strawberries in London—abundance about Bristol—Maple Grove—cultivation—beds when to be renewed—gardeners thinking exactly different—no general rule—gardeners never to be put out of their way—delicious fruit—only too rich to be eaten much of—inferior to cherries—currants more refreshing—only objection to gathering strawberries the stooping—glaring sun—tired to death—could bear it no longer—must go and sit in the shade.”
Emma, Jane Austen
For this edition of Bookish Bites, we’re talking about a book, and movie, that some people love to hate, Jane Austen’s Emma. Jane Austen is perhaps my favorite author ever, I actually have a quote from Pride and Prejudice tattooed on my back, and my first foray into the world of Austen was through Emma. I first saw the movie version with Gwyneth Paltrow when I was in middle school, and I absolutely fell in love with the writing and the overall feel of the story. I knew I had to find more of Austen’s works and I soon did. I then saw every movie version available and then moved onto the books. I know many people lament that movies are so often not as good as the books they are inspired by (and that definitely seems to be the case for the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma because people love to hate on Gwyneth), but in my case, since I initially learned to love Austen through the movie versions of her books, I’ve been equally enchanted by every movie version I’ve seen.
The scene I’ve included above is one of the funniest in the book. Everyone is gathered to pick strawberries at Mr. Knightley’s garden, and Mrs. Elton, a much hated character if there ever was one, goes on a tirade about the virtues of the strawberry.
Every summer, Joe and I end up with too many strawberries in the house, and I need to find new ways of eating them. Not that just eating them out of my hand gets boring, like ever, but I try to mix it up every once in a while. This recipe was adapted from A Beautiful Plate, and in my original trial I used raspberries as well, but, I think you could do whatever you like in terms of berries. Use all strawberries, all raspberries, all blackberries, or a mixture of all three. I will warn you not to leave the cake wrapped up in the tea towel too long, though. I left mine for a couple hours wrapped in the towel and it ended up with cracks all over the place. Definitely not the recipe’s fault, but my own, so you’ve been warned!
I think this would be an impressive dessert to make for a picnic, a birthday, or for anytime really. Enjoy!
Strawberry Shortcake Roulade (Serves 8-10)
6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
200 grams granulated sugar, separated
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract, separated
120 grams cake flour, sifted
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, separated
1/2 cup strawberry jam
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 1/2 cup strawberries, whole, for garnishing
1 cup raspberries, for garnishing
- For the cake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, with a rack in the middle. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with baking spray. Set aside.
- Place the 6 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk the egg whites on high speed, until light and foamy. Slowly sprinkle in 100 grams of granulated sugar and continue whisking over medium-high speed until the egg whites have reached stiff peaks. Carefully transfer to a separate bowl until ready to use.
- Wipe the bowl clean and combine the egg yolks, the remaining 100 grams of granulated sugar, and 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add a spoonful or two of the egg whites to the beaten yolk mixture, and fold together with a rubber spatula. You don’t have to be super gentle with this part because you’re just trying to lighten up the egg yolks.
- Add the remaining egg whites to the egg yolks, and gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Do not overwork this mixture or you will deflate the egg whites.
- Sprinkle a quarter of the cake flour over top of the sponge batter, and fold in gently. Repeat until all of the flour has been incorporated. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that all of the ingredients have been incorporated evenly.
- Transfer the batter onto the prepared sheet pan and spread into an even layer (the batter should fill the entire pan).
- Bake 8 to 12 minutes, or until very lightly golden in color. As the cake is finishing baking, lay a clean kitchen towel on your counter and dust with 1/4 cup of the confectioner’s sugar.
- Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, loosen the cake from the pan, using a knife if necessary, and carefully invert the cake onto the towel. Carefully peel off the parchment paper, and, while the cake is still warm, roll the cake and towel, narrow end to narrow end, into a tight spiral. Cool on a rack, in the towel, until the cake is cooled to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- For the filling: After the cake has cooled, gently unroll it, and spread the strawberry jam in a thin layer all on the cake.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, the remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until thickened and medium peaks form.
- Spread 1/3 of the whipped cream onto the jam-covered cake, leaving a small border on all sides. Drop the sliced strawberries over the whipped cream, making sure to spread them out evenly.
- Carefully re-roll the cake, without the towel, narrow end to narrow end, into a spiral and place it, seam-side down, on a long serving platter. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- To serve: When you’re ready to serve, either pipe or spoon over the remaining whipped cream all over the top of the cake. Evenly decorate the top of the cake with the whole strawberries and raspberries. Just before serving, dust the cake and berries with a little more confectioner’s sugar and serve.