Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday April 16, 2011
I’m not exactly sure when my love of strawberries began but it has reached a fever pitch in the last few years. I eat them almost every day.Not just for their multiple health benefits but also for their taste and versatility. At first I increased my consumption of berries in general because of their antioxidant preoperties but now it has almost become a force of habit.
Whether in a smoothie, a barbecue sauce or syrup the uses for this berry are too numerous to list here. The problem with my fascination for strawberries is that when not in season they can be very pricey and the frozen alternative is not always very tasty, in my opinion. Frozen fruit is a good substitute for fresh in desserts and sauces when it doesn’t matter if the berry holds it’s shape and you are pressed for time. When fresh is on sale out of season you have to wonder why. Sometimes the quality is not up to par or they will not keep long in the refrigerator.
So when the warmer breezes of spring come rolling in the first thing I think of is that strawberries and asparagus are coming in season and will be for sale at farmers markets and groceries in the area. I scan the ads for great deals and I stock up. Like this week, I have found several stores with great berry buys. I have made 6 consecutive items using the strawberry in some way. I use some and freeze some. It is convenient to throw a handful in a yogurt parfait or a morning smoothie. I freeze them on cookie sheets after I have washed them and sliced them. Then all you have to do is put them in baggies and they are ready to be used as needed.
In the last several years I have picked my own strawberries at a few local farms and that has been very hit or miss for me. It’s not quite the sure thing that blueberry picking can be. It seems like I always plan a day to pick that follows a rainy day. Nothing says family fun like crawling through muddy fields only to yield a few quarts of strawberries.
Now that my kids are older I bribe them with offers of spongy shortcakes covered in macerated strawberries with a cloud of fresh whipped cream. Occaisionally that does the trick. I am sure that the days of dragging my kids to u-pick farms are waning but for now I am going to enjoy our time together as well as the fruits of our labors.
So like many other family favorites I have collected several trusty recipes over the years that make use of the strawberry. This one in particular is perfect for Easter. This cake represents what you love about strawberry shortcake especially when you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I have also made this using blackberries and blueberries so it can be a seasonal go-to cake depending on what is available at the time.
This dessert is a cinch to whip up and I mean that. Take your time when mixing each ingredient to ensure a fluffier texture to the cake. Don’t skip the last step when you sprinkle the top with Turbinado sugar. It makes the prettiest , sweetest crust on the top. I loved the way the strawberries just sink down in the cake!
This cake is good warm but I thought it had the best flavor at room temperature served with a little cloud of fresh whipped cream. It is good for 2 days under a glass dome (to show off it’s beauty) if it lasts that long. I made 2 of these last week and we polished off one of the them that night and the other went with my husband to work the next day.
6 TB unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top of cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan or pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in egg, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
Gradually add in flour mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Arrange strawberry slices on top of batter. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over berries.