Friday, April 12, 2013

Whole Foods Friday: Strawberry Cake

This cake is based on a caramel apple cake that I made quite some time ago, with a few tweaks. Instead of a caramel topping, this one has a crunchier sugary buttery crust.

And instead of being an upside-down cake, this one has strawberries throughout the cake. The berries get a little denser and somewhat jam-like as the cake bakes, concentrating the flavor.

A dollop of whipped cream is a great garnish, but this cake just fine served plain or with a sprinkle of powdered sugar to dress it up a bit.

This cake isn't overly sweet, so it works as a breakfast item, and it's just as appropriate for dessert.

For something even more special, top it with fresh sliced strawberries and creme fraiche or whipped cream.

Strawberry Cake

2 sticks butter, divided
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup creme fraiche, sour cream, or Greek-style yogurt
1/2 pound frozen whole strawberries (medium and small)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1/2 stick of  butter in a 10-inch* cast iron frying pan. Cook on medium heat until the butter just barely begins to brown. The pan will stay hot enough for the butter to brown a bit more - you don't want it to burn. Add 1/4 cup of sugar to the pan, spreading it evenly.

Meanwhile, prepare the cake batter. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream the remaining 1 1/2 sticks of butter and the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Add the vanilla and continue beating until it is incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until they are thoroughly incorporated.

Add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the creme fraiche/sour cream/yogurt. Mix until well combined.

Pour the batter into the pan. Spread it so it's fairly even. You'll be messing it up again, so you don't need to be precise.

If the berries are large, you'll want to cut them in half or in quarters they should be small enough to submerge into the batter.

Arrange the strawberries over the top of the cake evenly. Once they're all arranged, press them into the batter, then spread the batter over the berries as best you can. If the batter is a little thin or there's a little bit of the berry peeking out, that's fine.

Bake at 350 degrees until the cake springs back when touched, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes (Because you've added frozen strawberries, this recipe will take longer to bake than the original.)

Remove the cake from the oven, let it rest for five minutes or so, then invert onto a wire rack or plate. You could also let it cool in the pan and serve it from there, if you prefer.

*If your cast iron frying pan isn't exactly 10 inches, that's fine. A little larger or a little smaller will work.