Glorious, glorious summer strawberries.
Has anyone ever had a farmstand strawberry? I am blessed to live in Sonoma County: known for vineyards and wineries, yes, but also home to a myriad of small farms that sell produce so fresh that your fruits and veggies usually still have dirt clinging to them. (washing before eating… not an option!) At a job I had before my current one, I would drive right by a strawberry field every day on my commute. When I finally pulled over and bought a basket of the little red berries for the first time, I could not believe how sweet and incredible they tasted.
I do still mostly buy strawberries from the grocery store out of convenience, but tasting a strawberry from a farm stand is a testament to eating produce that is in season. There’s a reason that farm stand fruit is so good: it’s only available when it is in season! In a typical grocery store, although the fruit/veggie may be adorned with a “USA” sticker, I still have no idea how far across the country it has been shipped. No guessing games are played when you visit a farm stand and you can actually see where their growing field is.
I saw the recipe for this strawberry cake pop up last week, and the author stressed the importance of using very good strawberries… I couldn’t believe how easily my blender turned the strawberries (store-bought, but so in season) into a puree without the addition of any additional liquid to help it along! Strawberries are sweet and soft and ripe right now… and I’m not sure how long they will be this good, so I plan on enjoying them liberally while I can!
Strawberries N’ Cream Cake
(ironically, as I made it, it was dairy-free… so I guess putting “cream” in the title is a stretch!)
halved and de-dairyed from this recipe found on “Healthy Delicious.”
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 T + 1 1/2 t. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 stick butter, softened (or 4 oz butter substitute- I used Earth Balance coconut spread)
- 1/4 cup buttermilk (or 1/4 cup soymilk with 1 tsp. vinegar)
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup (fresh!) strawberry puree*
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease bottom and sides of a round cake pan.
- Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter and strawberry puree, and beat with an electric mixture for about 2 minutes.
- Mix your egg whites and milk together in a separate bowl, and gradually incorporate into the large-bowl mixture.
- Pour your batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (mine was done at 25, I would check at that point)
- Allow to cool in the pan for at least half an hour, then gently and carefully remove and allow to sit on a wire cooling rack until completely cool.
Seven-minute vanilla bean frosting
- 3/4 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 egg white
- 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
- In a double boiler, combine all ingredients except for the vanilla extract and bean seeds, and whisk together for a good 30 seconds. Place bowl on top of simmering water, and beat on high with electric beaters for about seven minutes, or until soft peaks form. Remove from boiling water, add vanilla extract and bean seeds and continue to beat for an additional two minutes.
Because fruit in the middle of a cake always makes it a hundred times better, I chose to torte my cake and fill it with chopped strawberries and frosting.
The cake itself was very moist, and the frosting is extremely sweet. Honestly, because the cake was so moist, I wished that I had paired it with a firmer frosting. My seven-minute frosting was a merangue-like consistency and felt slightly too wet an already moist cake. However, I still enjoyed it, and I’m assuming that most everyone else did too- it was 4/5 gone by the end of the night!
*strawberry puree can be made by throwing strawberries in your blender, turning it on, and watching them turn into liquid! Mmm. If you have good strawberries, you shouldn’t need to add anything!