We’re starting a new series here at WindsorEats called “In the Field”. We’ll highlight producers, artisans, locals who excel in what they do. They could be your local baker, farmer, butcher or brewer. We’ll spend a day to get to know them, tell their story and even share a recipe at the end using their products.
This inaugural start to our “In the Field” series kicks off with one of our favourite producers in the area. If you’ve never met Monica Brandner from Brandner Farms, you should. She’s awesome. Take a trip out to the farm or catch up with her at one of the many farmers markets she participates in, she’ll always greet you with a smile.
We spent the day with Monica at the height of strawberry season. Those of you who have eaten a local strawberry know what I’m talking about when I tell you that it’s an explosion of flavour in your mouth. Red to the core and super sweet. Strawberry season is always a much anticipated time of year in our family. We managed to get through three crates in just over a week. Making jams, baked goods, freezing them to use later in the year and of course, just eating them plain, we can never quite get enough.
Monica and her family have taken advantage of the sandy soil on their farm to grow pesticide free strawberries. During the season you can buy them directly from the farm or one of the many farmers markets Brandner’s participates in. Brandner’s even has “pick your own” own. While we were at the farm, several families stopped in and made the best of the short season.
Now, I could go on and tell you all about Brandner Farms but we think Monica tells it best. Her enthusiasm, spirit, passion and excitement for what she does is infectious.
Strawberry season may be over, but we’ve included a recipe that you can use with any seasonal fruit (hint hint…raspberries are in season at Meleg’s!)
Chocolate Crepe Torte with Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
This recipe is actually an inspiration taken from a recent trip to Ireland. Sean and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Ballymaloe Litfest in Shanagarry, Ireland. While Sean was off engaging in an Irish Whiskey tasting, I took part in a food styling course with Sharon Hearne Smith and Donal Skehan. We photographed Sharon’s Crepe-a-thon Cake from her book No Bake Baking.
The book is not yet available in Canada so I had to make do with coming up with my own version. While the original recipe used raspberries, with strawberry season at it’s peak while we were on the farm, I couldn’t possibly resist making the most of the incredibly sweet local organic strawberries Monica had available at Brandner Farms. This is a great make ahead cake, doesn’t require much effort but looks fancy! Just keep all the ingredients refrigerated, separately, and assemble the day you need it.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons raw cacao (you can also use a really good brand of cocoa powder)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup whole milk
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. If you find your batter to be a bit lumpy, just pour it through a sieve. Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for one hour or up to two days. Over high heat, warm a non-stick sauté pan, lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray, until very hot.
Reduce heat to medium, ladle about 1 ounce of batter into pan, swirling batter until it evenly coats base of pan. Cook the crepe until small bubbles appear. Gently flip the crepe and cook for about 5 more seconds. Place the crepe onto a parchment-lined tray, laying flat to cool, and repeat with remaining batter. You want to try and make each crepe similar in size. Once you’ve finished making the crepes and they’ve cooled completely, you can keep them well covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- 1 pint of local strawberries (have an extra pint of strawberries on hand to decorate the top of the cake)
- 1/2 cup of sugar
Wash and hull strawberries. Put strawberries and sugar in blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
- 2 packages of cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 cup strawberry puree
Place the cream cheese into a mixer and mix until smooth. Add the icing sugar (sift to get out the lumps) and the strawberry puree. Blend until smooth. You don’t want the filling to be too loose but rather have a bit of a firm consistency to it so that it’s easy to spread onto the crepes. Refrigerate until needed.
- 2 cups whipped cream
- Fresh strawberries
- Strawberry Puree
Assembling the cake is….well….a piece of cake. Simply place a crepe on a pretty cake stand or plate. Take 1-2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture and spread over the crepe. Add another crepe and repeat until you’ve used up the filling. Finish up by adding the last crepe.
Voila! You have a really cute summer torte that uses fresh, seasonal fruit. I’ve made it a few times since that styling course in Ireland…and truth be told, Sharon’s cake looked like perfection in comparison to my homemade version here. But no matter what it looks like it still tastes yummy!