One of my favourite places to have some cake and tea is in the Great Cloister overlooking the gardens of Horace Walpole’s Gothic fantasy at Strawberry Hill House. It’s a charming museum café from which you can stare across the Walpolian gardens where Georgian London’s great and godly once partied. Or when the sun is out, you can grab a pew and sit in the garden under the trees of Walpole’s “enchanted little landscape” in Twickenham.
The Garden Cafe at Strawberry Hill House
The garden café at Strawberry Hill has a seasonal range of cakes and bakes with plenty of vegan, gluten and dairy-free options available. Favourites include the orange, lemon and lime drizzle cake (gluten-free), the courgette and avocado (gluten and dairy-free) and the rich salted caramel brownie (gluten and dairy-free).
Hot drinks include the white chocolate mocha, the Ferrero Rocher hot chocolate and a matcha latte (with plenty of alternative milk options for vegans). You could also opt for refreshing juices, champagne, wine, cider or premium beer.
The café serves up tasty snacks including the Avo Good Day (smashed avocado on toasted sourdough with feta and a chilli lime kick) or get Get your Grill on (grilled halloumi flatbread with chargrilled peppers, Moroccan couscous and a mint yoghurt dressing).
Strawberry Hill House re-opens
Strawberry Hill House re-opens on May 17 with a new treasure in its collection: a rare portrait of Catherine de’ Medici which it has acquired 247 years after she first hung there. A group portrait of Catherine de’ Medici with her children, originally bought by Horace Walpole, is returning home. The monumental 1561 work (measuring 198 x 137.2 cm) is by the Workshop of François Clouet, a highly successful portrait painter at the French court. It has only been publicly displayed three times in the past 126 years and is now on permanent display in The Gallery.
You can read more about Strawberry Hill here.
Strawberry Hill House Historic Garden Tour
Discover the history of Horace Walpole’s gardens throughout the summer (Tuesdays to Thursdays) at Strawberry Hill. The historic tour includes a wander around the grade II listed garden which stretches into a woodland glade beyond. Amble down to the riverside where you will see some of the most beautiful willow trees in London. You will also discover some of the other celebrities who lived in the area during Walpole’s time and who visited the house during some of his fabulous parties. Anna Pavlova and an elephant were amongst the guests. Yes, you read that right.
Book the Strawberry Hill garden tour here.
Courgette and Avocado Cake recipe (gluten and dairy-free)
I’m gluten and dairy-free, and it’s hard to find decent bakes in London’s museum cafés. Strawberry Hill House café has one of the tastiest ranges of gluten and dairy free cakes you’ll find in any museum café in London. And their avocado and courgette cake is so tasty, I thought I would have a go at making it myself. Let me know how you get on if you make it yourself, or even better, go and try a slice in the Strawberry Hill Café!
– 300 g courgettes (grated)
– 75ml sunflower oil, plus a little extra for greasing (you could substitute with coconut oil)
– 75g ripe avocado flesh
– 175g caster sugar
– 3 eggs
– 2 limes (zest)
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 350g gluten-free self-raising flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Grease and line two 8-inch round cake tins with baking paper.
Grate the courgettes and squeeze out as much liquid as you can (this is really important). You can do this with your hands.
Using a handheld mixer or a food processor, beat the avocado with the oil until smooth.
Combine the avocado mix, sugar, eggs, lime zest and vanilla. Fold in the flour and baking powder.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
– 125ml caster sugar
– 125ml water
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil until all the sugar has dissolved and then remove from heat. Let it cool. Using a toothpick, prick the cake layers and drizzle over the simple syrup. Make sure you let the syrup soak into the cake before you add the icing.
Avocado cream icing:
– 1 ripe avocado
– 50g dairy-free butter
– 120g vegan cream cheese
– 150g icing sugar
– Pistachio nuts and edible flowers (optional)
Add the avocado flesh, cream cheese and butter into a medium bowl and beat together until well blended. Beat in the icing sugar and mix well (do not overbeat or it will become runny). Roast the pistachio nuts for about in a warm oven (about 10 minutes at 170oC) and once cooled, sprinkle on top of the cake. Decorate with edible flowers.