Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Taste of Summer: Simple Strawberry Cake

When it comes to food there are few things I like more than strawberries. During my college years I worked for Carriage House, a cannery in San Jose that my godmother’s family owned. Their bread and butter, so to speak, was jams, jellies, peanut butter and pie fillings. I loved working on the days they were running strawberry jam; the scent heavy in the air made my workday all that more pleasant.

Because of my love of strawberries, we planted several varieties in our raised beds last year and since early May, they have been producing some really yummy berries. Often when I harvest the garden, they don’t even make into the house; they go no further than my mouth. But I was able to save enough this week to make a very simple strawberry cake, one that has a dense base with halved berries covering the top. Quick to make and served with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, it is a delicious dessert, sure to please everyone.

This recipe, which originated with Martha Stewart, does not require any special ingredients and reminds me a bit of clafouti, although without sooooooo much butter. Using really ripe berries, they will almost melt into the cake like jam; firmer berries will retain their shape but soften up nicely. And although I have yet to try it, I think this cake would be really good with any type of berry.

Simple Strawberry Cake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon 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°F. Butter a standard 10-inch pie pan, deep-dish 9-inch pie pan, or 9-inch springform pan. (I used a fancy quiche pan.)

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, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack.

Serves 8

No comments: