This week I’ve been makin’ Whoopie(s)! Sorry, couldn’t resist…
Whoopie Pies, as you may be aware, are an American baked treat that fall somewhere between a cake and biscuit sandwiched with a creamy iced filling (nothing like a pie, in fact). It seems, judging from the brief amount of research I’ve done, that they actually originated in Maine where Amish women would put them in their sons’ and husbands’ lunch boxes whom upon discovering them would exclaim ‘whoopie’!…Yes, it’s true…honest!
They became popular in the UK a few years ago due, in part, to the Hummingbird Bakery in London who famously sold American style baked goods, including cupcakes and the intriguingly named Whoopie Pies. I’d previously read about them but never tasted or cooked them myself. This week I decided to pop my Whoopie Pie cherry and bend it to my very British will.
You cannot have failed to notice (unless you’ve been too busy with your nose in the World Cup) that it’s Wimbledon time; and that also means that strawberry season is in full swing. What better way to consume Wimbledon’s famous strawberries and cream than to sandwich them between a couple of whoopie domes?
Those gorgeous heart shaped berries are everywhere at the moment, including various nooks and crannies in our garden. We began growing a small variety, known as Tumbleberries, a few years ago in a pot on our patio and since then they’ve proceeded to seed themselves all over the place. This year they’ve taken firm residence in our herb patch (little devils) and are going great guns, despite the fact that we’ve done zip-all to nurture them (we’ve not even watered them! In retrospect, we should probably retract any previous smugness at ‘managing to grow’ such wonderful strawberry crops…damn them!).
It’s not just the strawberry plants that are sprouting forth their fruits; our veg patch is a veritable abundance of lush green leaves at the moment. We’ve feasted on the first few courgettes this week and it’s only a matter of days before the various varieties of beans will be ready…exciting times for garden gods and goddesses!
In the meantime, I have it on good authority that we’re due some well-deserved sun this week; hurrah for that. It is therefore your patriotic duty, I feel, to cheer on Mister Murray with a good cup of tea and a cheeky Wimbledon Whoopie – it would be rude not to!
Cooks notes: I used The Hummingbird Bakery’s book for Whoopie cake guidance, as I liked the fact that they use yoghurt and only 1 egg in their recipes. They’re also a successful and very popular bakery, so must know their stuff, right? I tried a lightly spiced vanilla flavour and also a chocolate one, but the general consensus in our house was that the chocolate version wasn’t much cop. Below is an adaptation of their vanilla and cardamom whoopie pie.
Now go forth and make Wimbledon Whoopie(s)!
- 1 extra large egg
- 150g caster sugar (I used Vanilla Caster Sugar for extra flavour)
- 125g plain yoghurt
- 25ml whole milk
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 75g unsalted butter, melted
- 270g plain flour
- ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp caraway seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar
- ½ tsp powdered ginger
- ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- English strawberries – a couple of handfuls
- Pimms – a shot
- Grated zest of an orange and squeeze of the juice
- Pomegranate molasses – a good drizzle
- Sprinkling of caster sugar
- Double cream, approx 250 ml
Begin by whisking the egg and sugar in a large jug or mixing bowl, until pale and fluffy. You can use an electric whisk if you prefer.
In a separate bowl stir together the yoghurt, milk and vanilla extract then add it to the egg mixture.
Pour in the cooled melted butter and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, spices and raising agents, then add it to the wet batter in two stages, stirring only briefly until just combined.
When the batter has come together, refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 170 deg (150 FAN) and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
When you’re ready to bake them, simply spoon the mixture into 16 equally sized mounds (8 on each tray) making sure they’re well spaced out as they spread a little when cooked. Place in the oven and bake for 10-13 minutes. They should be lightly golden and keep their shape when lightly pressed. Light light light!
Leave to cool completely.
Macerate the strawberries
Thickly slice your strawberries (5mm or so, so that you get a decent layer in your whoopie pie) and place them in a wide shallow bowl or plate with a lip.
Sprinkle with a little caster sugar, a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, a splosh of Pimms (very ‘British Summertime’!) and the orange zest and juice. Give them a good stir and leave to one side until whoopie assembly time.
When the whoopie pies have thoroughly cooled sandwich two pies with a layer of juicy macerated strawberries and a thick layer of softly whipped double cream (whisked with a little caster sugar, naturally). You may need to slice a little off the bottom whoopie pie layer so that it sits flat on the plate.
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