(Or tea cake, since Alex devoured
I love strawberry season in Canada. Strawberries were the only fruit that I missed terribly when we were traveling, despite the abundance of tropical delicacies in Taiwan and Thailand. Even though you could get imported grapes from Chile, cherries from California, and lychees from China, there just didn’t seem to be an overwhelming enthusiasm for summer berry season in Asia. Plus, unless you peeked into a Starbucks, things like berry crumbles or squares just aren’t part of the sweets lineup over there.
So I’m making up for the lack of strawberry lovin’ in my life now, especially because it’s a short season. Ever since I saw the strawberry summer cake over at smitten kitchen, I’ve been itching to try it out. My mom, on the other hand, seems to have perfected the Asian attitude towards berries. Sure, she bakes with blueberries and raspberries because it’s her job and all, but she has a vendetta against strawberries in baking, and isn’t terribly fussed about the little local beauties to begin with. She ranted for a good three minutes on how strawberries lose their colour and taste, not to mention texture, in baked goods. All I could picture in my head as she ranted, was an image of an army of strawberry ninjas attacking her, for her to have such strong feelings against them.
I plunged ahead with my plan to use up the last of the berries while my mom napped. It was a little difficult as I’m an intruder in her kitchen these days, and she’s kind of the guardian of the ingredients. Nonetheless, victory was mine as I plopped the cake pan into the hot oven. The end result was amazing. Strawberries dotted the warm, sweet, and buttery cake, and it definitely is one of the best tea time snacks I’ve ever made.
Strawberry Summer Cake – adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 85g softened unsalted butter
- 188g all-purpose flour*
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 170g granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 400g strawberries, hulled and halved
- 2 big spoonfuls of sugar for sprinkling (about 2-3 heaping teaspoons)
- 2 big spoonfuls of chopped roasted nuts (I used a mix of almonds, pecans, and walnuts)
*Deb’s suggestion: swap 94 grams all-purpose flour with 75 grams of barley flour if you have it
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter, flour, and line a 9″ cake pan or a 8″ square pan with parchment paper.
- Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
- In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and 170g sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. It may look a little curdled at this point if your milk and egg are cold, but not to worry, it will work itself out as you continue to beat.
- Add flour mixture in, mixing until just smooth.
- Pour into prepared pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar and nuts over berries.
- Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack.
The cake is best served warm, freshly out of the oven, with a dollop of cream (or ice cream if you’re feeling extra-indulgent). Alex may or may not have heaped a healthy-sized scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the warm cake. Although the original recipe did not include nuts, I found that the chopped nuts really added a bit more of a coffee cake taste to them – something a little more complex, and nutty of course. The taste also inspired me to try swapping in some ground almonds for flour in my next batch, whenever I make this again!