If you put a little whipped cream on this strawberry-studded cake and garnish it with blueberries, you could call it Fourth of July Cake, and I like the idea of coming up with one that doesn’t need frosting. Or you can just eat it anytime for dessert. Actually, it would be good with more strawberries dumped on top, with their juice soaked into it. And I suppose the whipped cream is a good idea because there is something divine about the combination of cream and strawberries.
Normally in strawberry season I just gorge myself on fresh berries. On a sunny day, I can stand in the strawberry patch and smell ripening berries. On a good day, I stand in one spot and pick a quart without moving.
We have been devouring them dipped in sour cream then in light brown sugar. That has been dessert several nights in a row now. But a week of rain, plus the daily afternoon deluge we have had, turned the strawberry patch into a soggy mess, and I am desperate to use the berries before they rot. I suppose it is a nice kind of problem to have. I’ve made jam, frozen lots of them, and whirled quarts into puree to freeze for sorbet for another time.
So I am feeling a little profligate about them, and when Toby suggested a cake, I thought, why not? Normally I would resist the idea of burying all that delectable, juicy, sweet-tart strawberry-ness in batter. It would be like adding water to a $60 bottle of wine.
I looked on the Internet for a recipe, since my berry crisis came up just this week and there wasn’t time to ask you all for your ideas and recipes. I found several, and the one that follows is an amalgam of them. If you have a better one, please share.
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1¼ cup sugar
⅔ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 scant quart of strawberries, hulled and halved
Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle, optional
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch cake pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Beat the butter and sugar together until it is fluffy, then add the egg, milk and vanilla and beat. Gradually add the dry ingredients, beating just enough to make a moderately stiff batter. Pour the batter into the pan, and place the halved berries on top. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top of the cake if you wish. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
Yields a 10-inch, one-layer cake
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