Friday, June 3, 2011

.strawberry cake forever.

to clear my conscience, i need to be honest right up front. i cheated on you. for many years, we had such a special relationship, really formed our bond in a back yard in seattle. you were so sweet to me and that makes admitting this that much harder. oh raspberry, there is now another. a new favorite. i'm sorry.

for so long now, my berry affair was raspberry all the way, my top fruit pick above all else. i've always loved strawberries and blueberries, but there was a unique bite to the raspberry that allowed it to hold the top spot for such a long time. however, i was right in the middle of baking this cake when a revelation washed over me. i love strawberries, i've always loved strawberries and it is the type of fruit that i will love forever and ever. strawberries have such a subtly, soft sweetness that makes it impossible to resist for me. not only do i enjoy the fruit on its own, but i also veer towards strawberry-flavored anything.

the deep red hue of this berry couldn't be more stunning for our memorial day cookout. with that, i set out to make martha stewart's strawberry cake and you can see the recipe here:


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.
Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.
Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer batter to buttered pie plate. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.
Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack. Cut into wedges. Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, up to 2 days.

making the batter felt natural and almost robotic. there was nothing particularly different about it compared to most batters i have blended. nevertheless, the smell of the cake as it began to take shape from a hodgepodge of dry and wet ingredients was still a gratifying scent.

while i had halved strawberries before, i had never hulled them. at first, i tried scraping the centers out after cutting each berry in half and then realized this would take me quite a bit of time with a whole pound of these. so, i had to try a different, more time-efficient method. i chopped the stem end off each berry and then made a circular path down into the center of the berries with my knife and removed the hull that way. from there, i split the berry in half.

as the recipe suggested, i laid each one cut side down and they looked beautiful atop the anxious batter. once in the oven, i hoped my cake, all-done-up in my pie plate, would turn out to be scrumptious.

after removing the finished product from the oven and letting it cool, i sifted some confectionery sugar on top and it drifted down like a light flurry on a beautiful field of strawberries. the beatles have a song, 'strawberry fields forever' that may start climbing on my list of favorite beatles songs just because of its delicious subject matter.

i cut the cake into unforgivably small slivers in order to have enough for our cook-out guests. in the future, i'll just bake two because this was one delicious red devil that should be eaten in indulgent amounts.

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