Strawberry Summer Cake

My colleague told me about this fantastic recipe. I was looking to make something special for my son and his girlfriend. I didn’t want to make a double layer cake, or the usual chocolate chip cookies. I wanted something summery, so this seemed perfect. Here’s the original recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I opted to use only all-purpose flour, instead of the suggested barley flour. I don’t like buying ingredients I won’t use again. The cake is a wonderful texture and has a lovely flavor. More importantly, it’s delicious. You can use any berry of your liking. While the cake is baking, the berries get a jammy texture from the sugar topping. I reduced it to just what covers the berries. The amount varies deciding on the size of the berries. If they are smaller, I use more strawberries, and more sugar to cover them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter/prepare the springform, cake pan, or whatever you chose to use. I have an Emile Henri pie plate that is deep and it works perfectly. Smitten Kitchen discusses what to use in detail. You have to remember that the cake rises a lot.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray with Pam in a 9 inch spring form pan or a deep pie plate. I use an Emil Henri deep pie plate and it fits perfectly in it. You have to remember to cake rises a lot and you don’t want the batter to overflow. Smitten Kitchen discuss pan size at length on her blog.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy, with an electric mixer. This should take about 3 minutes and is an important step in any cake recipe. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined in a large measuring cup or bowl. I added this step. I like to mix the wet ingredients together to avoid over mixing the batter. Blend in the egg mixture until just combined with the sugar/butter mixture. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth. The batter will be thick.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberry slices, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sometimes you don’t always use all the strawberries. I found it depends on the size of the strawberries. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar (or less) over berries.

Bake cake 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50-60 minutes. My deep pie plate takes about 50 minutes. If it’s not quite done, it will continue to cook in the ceramic pie plate. I suggest start checking a little before 50 minutes. The strawberries will bubble and get gooey. Let cool in pan on rack. Cut into wedges. You can serve with whipped cream. I like it plain. I found this cake is better the second day. The cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, and longer in the refrigerator, if there’s any left over.

Enjoy! Happy Summer!

For the love of Strawberries

fullsizeoutput_20bWe go through a lot of strawberries. Hubs is sent to work with fruit to accompany his lunch. This time of year it’s strawberries and blueberries. In the cooler months it’s homemade applesauce. I’ve found there are two ways to keep strawberries fresh and not rot in the plastic container. Either you roast them (I KNOW!), or wash them with a vinegar-water bath. I put one cup of vinegar in a bowl with three cups of cold water. I pull out any that are already rotting. I let the berries sit in the vinegar-water bath, as I slosh them around gently.  The vinegar kills the spores and bacteria. After about 5 minutes I drain and rinse the berries. I put them on a paper-toweled line baking sheet. Pat them dry and let them air dry on the counter for a bit. I wash and line the plastic container with a paper towel and put the strawberries back in the container and put into the fridge. It really does work.  Don’t worry, there is no vinegar flavor, as long as you rinse them well.

My new way of “preserving” these delicious nuggets is to roast them. They are amazing. I put them over store-bought meringue cookies. I ran out of time to make my own meringues. I should have bought some Brigham’s vanilla ice cream. They would be so wonderful on top of ice cream. Sigh.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cut one pound of strawberries into quarters, if they are large, or halves if they are smaller. In a medium-sized bowl, toss the strawberries with a scant 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Each time I’ve made these, they have come out differently. I used a heaping 1/2 cup of sugar with very ripe berries. I kept adding strawberries because it was too sweet. This led to the strawberries bubbling up and leaking under the parchment paper. There was a delicious gooey mess to scrape off the pan. The second time the berries were smaller and not as ripe. I used a 1/4 cup of sugar, and lined the pan with foil and parchment paper. The berries weren’t as juicy and could have used a little more sugar. This is why I suggest a scant 1/2 cup.  Nothing ever turns out like they show online!

Arrange the strawberries in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and if you are not daring, aluminum foil.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes. The berries will release a beautiful red juice. Cool  slightly and then transfer to a container. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate in a covered container.