Tuesday, June 11, 2013

strawberry fields forever: summer strawberry cake

Strawberries. Rhubarb. Something dessert-like.

How to decide? I turned to the internet for some spring dessert inspiration, looking for a simple recipe for a pint of strawberries and bunch of rhubarb, waiting patiently in the fridge. I searched through some reliable blogs, and instead of turning up one recipe, I'm faced with a difficult choice: there are 20 tabs open on my browser, each one a promising and tantalizing dessert. Impossible!

In the end, I chose a strawberry summer cake, from smitten kitchen - a recipe I ment to make last year, but stumbled across after strawberries were long gone. What better way to celebrate the beginning of strawberry season? I made a few minor changes to her recipe: I added rhubarb and substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose. It's a delicious, simple cake. The strawberries melt into pockets of jam, the cake is fluffy and light, despite the whole wheat flour. Next time, I might add in some citrus zest or a vanilla bean.

As noted in her recipe, use a deep 9-inch pie plate, or a 10-inch pie plate. It seems like the batter would fit in a smaller dish, but it rises a lot. Like, overflowing batter in the bottom of my oven. Which smells delicious when it first happens, then turns into a awful burning smell next time you use the oven. So don't use a 8x11 pan, like I did.

summer strawberry cake
adapted very slightly from this recipe on smitten kitchen.

6 tbsp (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature + extra for greasing pie plate
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 lb strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 lb rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch chunks

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 10-inch or 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Cream sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy. Add in egg, milk and vanilla, and stir until just combined. Mix in flour mixture, stirring until smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Cover batter with strawberries, cut side down, in a single layer. Scatter rhubarb pieces around strawberries. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp sugar.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350, then reduce temperature to 325 and bake another 50-60 minutes, until centre of the cake is set, and a tester comes out clean.

Done! Delicious with whip cream, yogurt, or vanilla ice cream.

Here's my shortlist of recipes that didn't make the cut for tonight. I''ll report back, since I still plan on working my way through them.

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits - Smitten Kitchen
(like a strawberry shortcake with the strawberries baked right into the dough.)

Rustic Rhubarb Tarts - Smitten Kitchen
(little rhubarb galettes with a cornmeal + corn flour crust.)

Rhubarb Cordial - Food 52
(a pretty pink colour, a tart taste, the only drawback is the month-long wait.)

Rhubarb Chutney - Food in Jars via Food 52
(small batch, easy as pie, delicious on grilled cheese or tossed with garlicy greens.)

Roasted Rhubarb and Strawberries - Food 52
(inspired by 101 Cookbooks, roasted strawberries are out of this world.)

Strawberry Brown Butter Betties - Smitten Kitchen
(a crust made out of bread, brown butter, jammy strawberries, what could be bad?)

Rhubarb with Earl Grey, Cardamom and Orange - Food 52
(what a grown-up, intriguing combo of flavours, can't wait to try!)

Strawberry Cupcakes with a Brown Sugar Buttercream Icing - Not Without Salt
(a cupcake batter with pureed strawberries? sounds amazing.)

Rhubarb Snacking Cake - Smitten Kitchen
(is it a buckle, a streusel or a bar? it can't decide, but it's filled with rhubarb.)

Strawberry Shortcakes - Food 52
(a classic recipe from a classic man - James Beard - with a bonus secret ingredient.)

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