For me, spring starts as a slightly awkward season. Though the expectation of longer days and warmer months hang in the air, the cold reality of September always leaves me slightly disappointed. The nights still see me buried beneath layers of blankets while the thick black scarf I’ve worn through winter, occasionally washed, still hangs around my neck. But as this bleary month gives way to October, and the year’s freshest produce appears at the farmers market, it truly becomes time to create recipes that celebrate the season.
Despite the wonder of modern agriculture and international trade that allows the year-round supply of most produce (thank you Coles and Woolworths), there are many good reasons why you should choose fruits and vegetables that are in season. Growing up on a farm I love the idea of buying locally grown and gathered produce. Purchasing seasonal produce has both environmental and nutritional benefits. Fresh produce, grown seasonally, doesn’t journey across the world for months in cold storage to get to you. Which means it can be picked fresh, for taste and not for travel. Most importantly, purchasing locally grown produce supports your local food industry and its communities.
This recipe is close to my heart for that very reason. I purchased the strawberries from the farmer that picked them. He lives down the road from my parents and I’ve known his family for years. The thyme, thick and tangled, was pulled from the garden by my husband, a few months after being lovingly planted by my mum. The ingredients weren’t methodically purchased. Instead they were lovingly grown and gathered. So embrace the season you’re in, experiment with new flavours and purchase locally grown and seasonal produce.
My favourite spring produce includes asparagus, artichokes, avocados, peas, spring onions, leeks blood oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, tangelos and pineapples just to name a few (or many!).
- 90 grams dairy free butter
- 90 grams coconut sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
- 2 eggs
- 120 grams almond meal
- 40 grams brown rice flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 150 grams strawberries, hulled and halved
- Preheat oven to 160C. Oil a 25cm springform or tart tin with vegetable oil and line the bottom with baking parchment.
- Cream the dairy free butter and sugar until soft. You could do this by hand or use a freestanding mixer.
- Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring they're incorporated into the mix, before adding the almond meal, rice flour, baking powder and thyme. Lightly mix together until combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and even with the back of a dessert spoon. Dot the strawberry halves over the batter and finish with a sprinkling of coconut sugar.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the cake has risen slightly and is firm on top.
- Put on a wire rack to cool.