I like cooking food with a fancy foreign name; it just seems more impressive somehow. “Mille feuille” means a thousand leaves, which is rather a poetic description and sounds more impressive than ‘cream slice’. But I do love the trickery of the English language, with all its homonyms and synonyms and illogical spelling system. I enjoy trying to help students make sense of the language, but I also remember how hard it was for me to get to grips with some aspects of it myself.
I have a vivid memory of when I found out that there was a homonym of “heroine” – the front page of my grandma’s tabloid newspaper one Sunday morning featured a scandal about Paula Yates and I asked my mum, “But I thought it was good to be a heroine?”. She explained that minus the ‘e’, it’s a very different thing. Likewise I only knew a seal to be the sea animal, so when I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and they kept warning each other not to “cross the seal”, I thought the picture on the floor (the seal, in fact) must be a picture of a seal. I was bright enough to find it odd that an ancient church would have a picture of a seal on the floor, but, alas, dim-witted enough not to consider that there could be another explanation.
Language may be complicated, but treats are not – or the eating of them, at least. I had a bit of a disaster with the icing – I ran out of fondant icing sugar and had to whip up normal icing which ran everywhere – but that just made the finished articles stickier and gooier, which I think is no bad thing. Dig in!
Makes 6, from Squires Kitchen Bake School
250g puff pastry
200g fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
500ml double cream
30g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g fondant icing sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
2. Roll out the pastry to a rectangle that will fit your baking sheet. Divide it into three strips.
3. Prick each strip with a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven, place another sheet of greaseproof paper on top followed by another baking sheet and push down to flatten the pastry. Leave to cool.
5. Lay the strawberry slices over two of the long pastry strips.
6. Use an electric whisk to beat together the cream, icing sugar and vanilla until thick.
7. Spoon the cream into a piping back and pipe cream on top of one strip of strawberries. Push the other strip of pastry and strawberries on top and pipe more cream on there.
8. Gently place the remaining pastry strip on top. Leave it in the freezer for one hour to set.
9. Make up the fondant icing according to packet instructions (I’d run out, so I just used normal icing and it didn’t set well – fondant all the way for best results). Pour it on top of the slice, reserving a little.
10. Colour the remaining fondant pink and drizzle it on top.
11. Return to the freezer for a while to set (if you use fondant icing, you shouldn’t need to do so – it will set very quickly).
12. Gently trim away the side/end bits dribbled with icing (it will be easier to do this with fondant icing, as mine still dribbled and ran). Slice into six, and serve.